Celebrity news: Producer investigates complaints that Ellen show is a ‘toxic workplace’

The producer of Ellen DeGeneres’s talk show has told employees it is looking into reports of a toxic workplace, including complaints of intimidation and racism.

Telepictures, a unit of Warner Bros. Entertainment, informed staff on the show last week that it was enlisting WarnerMedia’s employee relations team and a third-party consultant to interview current and former employees about their experiences, according to a memo seen by the Los Angeles Times.

The memo asked those approached to participate openly in the confidential process so it could improve the environment on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

A Warner Bros. spokesman declined to comment. A representative for DeGeneres and the show was not immediately available for comment.

DeGeneres faced a litany of criticisms for bad behaviour in a Twitter thread started by comedian Kevin T. Porter, complaints from crew about being abandoned during the pandemic shutdown, and an investigation by BuzzFeed News into allegations of intimidation and racism on the chat show,.

The employees interviewed by BuzzFeed spoke of being fired for taking medical or bereavement leave; one said she was a victim of racial discrimination.

In April, “Ellen” producers told the union crew to expect a 60 per cent cut in pay while a non-union, outside tech company was hired to assist with production as DeGeneres tapes shows on a set constructed at her home, Variety reported.

Los Angeles Times

Inside Out Festival moves from real world to web

Inside Out is going online in October.

Billed as one of the largest LGBTQ film festivals in North America, the fest announced Tuesday that it’s going digital for its 30th anniversary edition this year, following “a great deal of consultation” with public health authorities and its partners.

Between Oct. 1 and 11, the festival will host screenings, Q&As and other events on the Cinesend platform, which will be available across Ontario, effectively combining the Toronto and Ottawa festivals.

The full lineup will be released on Sept. 8, with details about tickets and passes in the coming weeks. The festival has announced its short-film slate, with 115 entries from Canada and around the world. See insideout.ca for more information.

“Although we are unable to gather in person to share what we’ve seen and network with filmmakers in the ways we are used to, we remain committed to bringing you the best in queer cinema from our literal backyards and around the world,” Andrew Murphy, director of programming, said in a news release.

The festival will also present a night of free programming July 29 at the CityView Drive-In, including a screening of “Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall.” See cityviewdrivein.com to reserve tickets.

Andrea Bocelli ‘humiliated’ by COVID-19 lockdown

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, who had COVID-19, says the pandemic lockdown made him feel “humiliated and offended” by depriving him of his freedom to come and go as he wanted.

Bocelli spoke Monday in an Italian Senate conference room, where he was introduced by right-wing opposition leader Matteo Salvini, who has railed against the government’s stringent measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

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Bocelli told the conference that he resented not being able to leave his home even though he “committed no crime” and revealed, without providing details, that he violated that lockdown restriction.

Dismayed, Health Ministry Undersecretary Pierpaolo Sileri said on Tuesday that perhaps Bocelli “wanted to express the inconvenience of every Italian who, because of lockdown, stayed home.”

The Associated Press

It’s a baby something for Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas

Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas have had their first child.

The 24-year-old “Game of Thrones” star and the 30-year-old singer announced the birth Monday but gave no details about the baby.

Turner, the English actor who played Sansa Stark on “Game of Thrones” for eight seasons, and Jonas, the Arizona-born musician who came to fame with his brothers on the Disney Channel, began dating in 2016 and married last year.

The Associated Press

Eight new Ken Burns documentaries are coming our way

What do Ernest Hemingway, Muhammad Ali, Benjamin Franklin and Leonardo da Vinci have in common?

All are getting the Ken Burns treatment in the next few years. The PBS documentarian said Tuesday that he has eight projects in the works, half of them in-depth looks at the four personalities. The da Vinci project is the first one Burns has done on a non-American subject, he said.

The next great conflict that the maker of “The Civil War” is turning to is the American Revolutionary War, a project he hopes to have ready in 2025. He’s also doing documentaries on the United States’ actions during the Holocaust, the comeback of the buffalo and the history of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.

PBS also announced a series of projects planned in part as a reaction to the discussion of social justice issues in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

One will be a PBS Kids half-hour special, premiering on Oct. 9, about talking to youngsters about race and racism.

Alicia Keys is the executive producer of a documentary, “American Masters: How It Feels to be Free,” that will premiere early next year. It will tell the story of six Black female entertainers: Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier.

Also next year, PBS will air a two-part documentary from Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on Black churches, spotlighting their history and music.

The Associated Press