By Richard Hack
So everyone seems to be talking about Ellen, which is a whole lot different than talking to Ellen which is her normal place in the pecking order of comedy divas. While there is some truth being mixed into the drone of noise, you have to know where to listen to hear the real facts.
— Clout News (@CloutNewsMedia) August 6, 2020
Fact 1) Ellen DeGeneres is NOT the new queen of mean. She is exactly the same funny woman who we came to deify when we named her one of our LGBTQ Heroes last December. Same woman—only three quarters of a year later. And trust us when we say, nobody’s personality changes front to back in that amount of time.
Fact 2) There was some nasty stuff going on in the back rooms of the studio lot out in Burbank at Warner Bros. Not Harvey Weinstein open bathrobe exposé stuff, but more touchy rub-a-dub back massage stuff originating at the alleged fingertips of former producer Ed Glavin. Just because it’s soft core doesn’t make it right however. It just means that it’s Glavin’s alleged issue to work out.
Fact 3) While it is Ellen’s name atop the marque, that doesn’t mean she is aware of every dark corner in every hallway behind the laughs going on on-stage. Let us not forget this is, after all, Ellen we’re discussing her. Ellen. You remember. The one who got her career cut off at the knees right there in primetime on “Ellen,” the ABC ratings winner on which she announced to the world that she was gay. Let’s not forget that the year was 1997. And while that may not seem all that long ago in dog years, it was a completely different world. It was such an anticipated event that 44 million viewers tuned in (three times the normal audience), and, for an instant in time, it was a hallelujah moment.
Fact 4) No good deed goes unpunished. Yes, Ellen was gushed with excitement; yes she was on the cover of TIME magazine; yes she was on top of the world—until she wasn’t. It didn’t take long for the likes of Rev. Jerry Falwell, fellow evangelist Pat Robertson and at least two dozen others to condemn the outing and Ellen’s happiness by labeling it a “blatant attempt to promote homosexuality.” But America’s self-righteous took more than pot shots at Ellen. Before every episode of the following season of the show, there studio was swept for incendiary devices due to the numerous bomb-threats the show received. Despite the fact that that particular episode of the show received Emmy and Peabody Awards, the series was cancelled the following year. Ellen went for heroine to the unemployment line, having been brought down by the very people who once thought she was so brave to proudly claim her sexual identity.
Fact 5) Out of the ashes of a seemingly dismantled career, Ellen’s talent won out. “Ellen”—the syndicated talk show from TeleFeatures and WarnerMedia—was created not because the comic was gay, but because she was funny. And funny in a way that even those who didn’t want to really laugh, had to admit that her warm and friendly likeability could not be denied. While she had led the way for “Will and Grace” to follow her into a largely LGBTQ ignorant television landscape, there can be no denying that she was the explorer who macheted the path. Having gotten a second chance at success, this Ellen—provocateur of humor and crazy dance steps and I’m goofy but I’m real—was not about to screw up the opportunity. This Ellen was going to make things as legitimate and as equal in a one-for-all manner as she could.
Fact 6) There is a certain amount of notoriety which itself seems to bring entitlement. There is also an almost obligatory resentment of the intrusion of fans whose enthusiasm to reach out and touch the illusion of fame becomes its own brand of aggression. Yet, we have witnessed Ellen being overwhelming kind and tolerant to her base and those who just happen upon her in public. We have watched as she has advocated for the marginalized and stood up against bigots and racists. We have clapped as she was saluted by GLAAD and won award after award. Yet Ellen herself said it best in a letter she wrote last week to her staff.
“I’m also learning that people who work with me and for me are speaking on my behalf and misrepresenting who I am and that has to stop. As someone who was judged and nearly lost everything for just being who I am, I truly understand and have deep compassion for those being looked at differently, or treated unfairly, not equal, or – worse – disregarded. To think that any one of you felt that way is awful to me,” said DeGeneres. “It’s been way too long, but we’re finally having conversations about fairness and justice.”
Fact 7) Last May, Ellen announced that she had signed to guarantee her show would continue to be taped for the next three years. At the time, she mocked: “I’m excited to announce that I’ll be doing my show for three more years,” said talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. “Mostly because I love doing it so much every day, but also because that takes me to the end of my car lease.”
“Ellen is, quite simply, a force of nature,” said Peter Roth, President and Chief Content Officer, Warner Bros. Television Group. “Her energy, intelligence, kindness and creativity know no bounds. Whether it’s her instant connection to her guests on her flagship talk show, her warm and funny hosting on ‘Game of Games,’ or the infectious enthusiasm she shares in producing everything from ‘Little Big Shots’ to the animated antics of ‘Green Eggs and Ham,’ it’s an honor to work alongside her. We’re thrilled to continue this fun and friendly journey with her.”
Fact 8) Ellen just received $20 million for a single Netflix comedy special. Yes, Ellen is kind, Ellen is gracious, Ellen has been pushed into the gutter and rose up to show us all how to do it with wit and humor. And even as she laughs all the way to the bank, she gives away millions of dollars to those who don’t have her talent or her ability to love despite it all, and because that’s the Ellen we know.
So, let them say their worst. We know you, and we’ve got your back.