Just as she promised, Ellen DeGeneres addressed multiple reports about a “toxic” work culture on her eponymous show when the daytime program returned on Monday (Sept. 21).
After sarcastically sharing that she had a “great…super terrific” summer, even offering a double thumbs up, DeGeneres went right into the reports of a toxic workplace and the WarnerMedia investigation in her first monologue back.
“I learned that things happened here that never should have happened,” DeGeneres said. I take that very seriously and I want to say I’m so sorry to the people that were affected. I know that I’m in a position of privilege and power and I realize that with that comes responsibility. I take responsibility for what happens at my show.”
Wearing a white blazer and turtleneck over jeans, DeGeneres was joined by her DJ and new co-executive producer in Stephen “tWitch” Boss, who will guest-host some episodes this season, at her studio on Warner Bros.’ Burbank lot, with an audience made up of individual video screens, featuring viewers from all over the world.
The season 18 premiere also saw Tiffany Haddish return as a guest.
Pledging that the new season marks the beginning of a “new chapter,” DeGeneres said of reports that she’s not the woman people see on TV, “I am that person that you see on TV. I am also a lot of other things.”
The high-performing and Emmy-winning daytime show has made multiple changes since Buzzfeed News first broke two stories about the show’s “toxic work culture” and reported sexual harassment and misconduct on set in July. Amid an investigation of the reports, WarnerMedia parted ways with executive producer Ed Glavin, head writer and executive producer Kevin Leman and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman, all of whom were named in the two initial stories.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show is additionally now providing staffers with five days’ paid time off, birthdays off and paid time off for doctors’ appointments and family events. And WarnerMedia has consolidated its television labels, merging the company behind The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Telepictures, with Warner Horizon Unscripted and Shed Media into the Warner Bros. Unscripted TV Division.
In an all-staff video Zoom call in August, DeGeneres apologized to the workers on the show, first by addressing claims that she is standoffish at work: “I’m a multi-layered person, and I try to be the best person I can be and try to learn from my mistakes,” she said. Then she discussed her commitment to employees: “I care about each and every one of you. I am grateful for each and every one of you. I feel like I’ve kind of let the ball drop a bit because I’m focused on the show, I go in and I do the show, and I’ve just let everybody to do their jobs – to run different departments,” she said. “And it just became a well-oiled machine, and I think that is the problem.”
Watch Ellen’s opening monologue from her season 18 premiere, in which she addresses the toxic workplace reports, in the video below.
This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.