Ellen DeGeneres defends staying on the air


Registered User
Jan 26, 2005
For a woman who has built recent success on serving as a perky, non-controversial daytime TV alternative to the likes of Rosie O'Donnell and Star Jones Reynolds, Ellen DeGeneres has been taking a disorienting thumping in recent weeks.
First came her mid-October on-air breakdown on her eponymous syndicated talk show over adopted dog Iggy, which was taken away from her hairdresser's family by the rescue organization because such a placement violated their rules. And now she has been rebuked by the Writers Guild for not shutting down her talk show during their strike.

"It's just an interesting time for me right now," DeGeneres says. "I try not to pay attention to anything, and I try not to read or watch TV or pay attention to what other people's opinions are. I know a lot of people are talking about a lot of things, but I'm just trying to do my job and trying to explain my support for my writers."

DeGeneres says she's baffled as to why she has been attacked by the union but other syndicated hosts who have not suspended production — including Rachael Ray and Oprah Winfrey — have not. She did suspend production for one day in solidarity and has canceled some shows to be filmed in New York, but she's still filming in Los Angeles.

She says she's in a tough spot as a syndicated program, obliged by contract to provide programming to stations that air her show. Also, she says, she has 135 staffers she wishes to keep employed. "What's sad is I support my writers 100%, I love my writers and I miss them, and it's hard coming to work right now.

For her part, DeGeneres is trying her best to navigate the storms and focus on her latest project, the first "Ellen's Really Big Show" variety production, which will be filmed before a live audience tonight in Las Vegas. The show is a marquee attraction of The Comedy Festival, a week of comic concerts that this year also features Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Wanda Sykes and many others.

For DeGeneres' show, which is being taped for airing Monday on TBS (9 p.m. ET/6 PT), she'll be joined by Mary J. Blige, Sheryl Crow, magician Lance Burton and several lesser-known acts.

"I've been wanting to bring variety television back for a really long time," says DeGeneres, who suggests this may be the first of a series of specials. "I grew up watching them, and I like them, and I think we have a form of that now with American Idol and America's Got Talent. We're all searching for new and exciting things that we don't see all the time."

DeGeneres is quick to note that the comedy she performs in the Vegas show was largely written before the strike began last week. The comedian, 49, had largely stayed out of controversy since her messy 2001 breakup with actress Anne Heche and her decision to come out as a lesbian on the cover of Time magazine.

Noting that that cultural watershed was 10 years ago this year, she says she barely recalls what life was like before that. "Once you're open and honest, you look back and you realize the scariest place to live is in fear," says DeGeneres, who has been in a stable relationship with actress Portia de Rossi for the past three years. "I don't really remember it because all I know is honesty now in every aspect of my life."

That approach, though, brought ridicule when she wept on air over the Iggy incident. "There's no good that can come from talking about that," DeGeneres says now. "If I regret one thing, then I regret, well, you can't pick and choose … it was what it was and, you know, it's opened up a lot of judgment with a lot of people, but whatever. I did what I did. I guess I can't regret it."

Nov 15,2007
Jan 3, 2006
In Fleas Mom's Box
I can just see it now. Once this strike is over after Thanksgiving, Ellen will become the next Rosie. All of her dirty laundry will come out. Her writers will all quit. She will have another meltdown, enough for corporations to stop sponsoring the show. She will lose her syndication deal with Telepictures by January. Then she'll be forced to work the comedy circut. Serves her right for flipping out about giving away a dog and then crossing the picket lines.


Why yes, I am an asshole, so what?
Mar 10, 2005