How Ellen can ‘come back from the dead’
A top US public relations expert has weighed in on the Ellen DeGeneres crisis, saying that the star can revive her shaky career on one condition - that she take a stand.
"The perception of Ellen was as this funny, dorky, naive, non-threatening person and to find out that she is not that in real life is very disappointing to the folks who fly across the country to sit in her audience and get up to dance in the aisles," Cathy Renna of top US PR firm TargetCue told News Corp Australia.
"Ellen did a brave and extraordinary thing coming out in 1997 and it had a powerful impact. But the backlash from that giant leap forward prompted her downfall in the late '90s. This is a very different situation. We're now living in a time where toxic behaviour is beyond unacceptable and once uncovered it can really be something that is impossible to come back from."
But Renna, who has also worked in crisis management, thinks DeGeneres can come back - because she has done it before.
"Ellen came back from the dead in the late '90s," says Renna. "She came back roaring as a kind, lesbian version of Oprah."
But as her popularity and privilege grew the award-winning TV host lost touch with those who stood by her.
"She never got involved in the LGBTQ community as an activist. She was seen hanging out with George Bush at that football game. She compared isolation in a $45 million mansion to being in prison. She is a little bit tone deaf to politics and the perception of things," Renna says.
"One way to come back from this is to be more engaged and vocal and to be seen taking a stand on things. At the end of the day that's what it's about."
It comes as DeGeneres will reportedly address fans over allegations she enabled a toxic workplace environment.
The 62-year-old was filmed leaving a restaurant in California where she was asked by a reporter how her show would change following the sacking of her three top producers, Ed Glavin, Kevin Leman and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman.
"I will be talking to my fans," she said in the video posted to the Daily Mail.
In recent months, a growing tide of backlash against the star proliferated on social media as former and current employees of the show came forward with grievances.
The show's parent company, WarnerMedia, launched an internal investigation into the allegations.
On July 30, DeGeneres attempted damage control by issuing an apology email to current staffers but many felt she did not take full responsibility for the alleged unkind culture of the show.
Instead, DeGeneres was viewed as having thrown her own top executive producers under the bus.
Last week, DeGeneres addressed staff via video conferencing to announce the firings of the three executives and to promote DJ Stephen Laurel 'tWitch' Boss to executive producer. She also apologised to staff and last week Variety reported that DeGeneres had offered employees better workplace benefits.
While she is under contract to continue hosting The Ellen DeGeneres Show through 2022, and signed a new deal to develop three shows for WarnerMedia's new streaming platform, HBO Max, this week Channel 9 announced it would stop airing the show.
The top-rated talk show had been broadcast on Nine since 2013 but repeat episodes have been taken off air during the ongoing investigation into workplace toxicity.
"We are resting Ellen repeats on Nine and have replaced with Desperate Housewives," a spokesman confirmed to news.com.au.
Repeats will continue to air on multichannel 9 Gem and Fox Arena.
Discussions between Channel 9 and Warner Bros. regarding broadcast rights for the upcoming season, which begins next month, are said to be "ongoing".
Originally published as How Ellen can 'come back from the dead'