Reports of Ellen DeGeneres mistreating her staff and behaving in an aloof, unapproachable fashion toward all but her most famous guests came as a shock to millions of viewers who had come to accept the daytime host's kindly onscreen persona as a reflection of her true self.
These days, Ellen is in damage control mode, attempting to rescue both her wildly successful talk show and the reputation she's spent decades creating.
Insiders say a Warner Bros. investigation into DeGeneres and her staff has been concluded, and execs have not found sufficient reason to cancel the show entirely.
Three producers have now been fired in connection with unprofessional behavior.
So it seems that Elle has managed to convince her bosses that she's not too toxic to continue as the face of a TV franchise.
But now, she's faced with the equally difficult task of convincing her audience that she's worthy of their continued loyalty.
And apparently, Degeneres has decided that earning the forgiveness of the people she allegedly mistreated is the first step on the road to redemption.
According to a new report from Page Six, Ellen addressed her remaining staff in an emotional Zoom call on Monday.
Insiders say the host explained that she was unaware of many of the abuses of power which her top-tier producers reportedly engaged in.
In defense of her own stand-offish behavior she stated that she's "introverted" and has "bad days," but insisted that she harbors no ill will toward any of her staff and was shocked to hear herself described as a bully.
DeGeneres also addressed the rumor that her underlings are often instructed not to address her or even make eye contact with her.
“I don’t know where it started,” she said of the report.
“Please talk to me. Look me in the eye.”
Actually, there's no great mystery regarding the origin of that particular rumor.
A producer on Australia's version of the Today show revealed that he received the instruction when the comic made an appearance on the show back in 2013.
“‘She’ll come in, she’ll sit down, she’ll talk to Richard and then Ellen will leave,'” Neil Breen recalled Ellen's staff telling him.
“And I sort of said, ‘I can’t look at her?’ I found the whole thing bizarre," Breen added.
Several anonymous Ellen staffers later confirmed that the host is notoriously skittish about eye contact.
Reports of DeGeneres' rude and at times abusive behavior have been surfacing non-stop for several months now.
Most recently, a former employee likened working for Ellen to the film The Devil Wears Prada, in which Meryl Streep's fashion magazine editor delights in tormenting her employees.
"It's kind of like The Devil Wears Prada," the anonymous former staffer explained.
She added that employees were denied "basic human rights" such as "being paid overtime" and "water on a hot day."
According to this former employee: “If you ask for that, you’re told, well, there’s the door.”
So while it's nice that Ellen decided to address her employees directly this week, her personnel issues clearly go well beyond a lack of eye contact.
Only time will tell if the once-beloved host will be able to repair her battered reputation.
But at the moment, it seems unlikely that she'll be able to convince audiences that she's the fun-loving humanitarian she once made herself out to be.