Ellen DeGeneres has decided that her upcoming nineteenth season will be the last one hosting her daytime talk show. She informed her staff yesterday, and will sit down with longtime pal and daytime predecessor Oprah Winfrey to discuss the news on Ellen‘s show tomorrow, May 13.
The Hollywood Reporter interviewed DeGeneres about the news. She said, “When you’re a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged – and as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore.”
This past year has not been without controversy, for DeGeneres. A July Buzzfeed News exposé detailed allegations of a toxic workplace. DeGeneres said, “Unfortunately, I learned that through the press. And at first I didn’t believe it because I know how happy everybody is here and how every guest talks about, ‘Man, you have a great place here. Of all the talk shows I’ve done, everyone here is so happy.’ That’s all I’ve ever heard.” The host, who’s built her brand on the motto “Be Kind,” opened season 18 in September with a lengthy apology, telling viewers, “I learned that things happen here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously. And I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected.”
63-year-old DeGeneres said there was an internal investigation, calling the current culture we live in is “one where you can’t learn and grow.” She said that it broke her heart when she learned that people working for her had “anything other than a fantastic experience — that people were hurt in any way. I check in now as much as I can through Zoom to different departments and I make sure people know that if there’s ever a question or ever anything, they can come to me and I don’t know why that was never considered before. I’m not a scary person. I’m really easy to talk to. So, we’ve all learned from things that we didn’t realize — or I didn’t realize — were happening. I just want people to trust and know that I am who I appear to be.”
According to The New York Times, viewers tuned in for the apology that gave the opening show the highest ratings its seen in four years, but they didn’t stay, tuning out soon afterward. Ellen has lost more than a million viewers since September, according to Nielsen ratings, averaging 1.5 million viewers over the last six months, down from 2.6 million in the same period last year. The one million viewer loss translates to a 43 percent decline, representing a steeper drop than any of its competitors.
Still, Unscripted TV President Mike Darnell stands by DeGeneres saying, “Ellen was and is an indelible piece of the television landscape, and it will be sorely missed.” DeGeneres will remain a part of the Warner Bros. fold, with Fox’s The Masked Dancer, NBC’s Ellen’s Game of Games and HBO Max’s Ellen’s Next Great Designer.
DeGeneres revealed in her interview that she was going to stop after season 16. “That was going to be my last season and they wanted to sign for four more years and I said I’d sign for maybe for one. They were saying there was no way to sign for one. ‘We can’t do that with the affiliates and the stations need more of a commitment.’ So, we [settled] on three more years and I knew that would be my last. That’s been the plan all along. And everybody kept saying, even when I signed, ‘You know, that’s going to be 19, don’t you want to just go to 20? It’s a good number.’ So is 19,” she said laughing.
DeGeneres said after almost 20 years, “I just needed something to challenge me. And as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore. I need something new to challenge me.”
The producers didn’t want to see her go, and her brother Vance also pointed out, “People look forward to this show every day, and there aren’t many shows out there that are just pure joy like this.”
As for her next move, Ellen says she has some ideas but her agent suggested that she “just sit still for a minute. You probably don’t even know how exhausted you are and what it’s going to be like to sit still.” Ellen doesn’t think she will be back on a sitcom, calling them “a walk in the park” compared to her 180 shows a year. Movies, however, are a different story, as Ellen wants to do movies “for sure. If there were a great role, I’d be able to do that, which I’m not able to do now. I’m opening up my campus in Rwanda next year and I want to be more involved with conservation and everything that matters to me as far as the environment and animals.”