Jimmy Kimmel Gives Ellen DeGeneres a Pass for ‘Toxic’ Behavior
In her first major sit-down TV interview since the revelations about her “toxic” workplace culture, Ellen DeGeneres didn’t get one question about the scandal.
Jimmy Kimmel and Ellen DeGeneres were all smiles during their late-night 4/20 sit-down on Tuesday. But just beneath the surface, things were fraught.
Beyond the tightly controlled set of her daytime talk show, which has seen its ratings plummet in recent months following the backlash against her “toxic” workplace culture and eventual public apology, DeGeneres has almost completely avoided any interactions with outside interviewers who may have asked her an uncomfortable question or two about her behavior.
Hardly the toughest interviewer in the mediasphere, Kimmel was especially soft on DeGeneres, who is attempting some image rehab ahead of the premiere of her new HBO Max furniture show, Ellen’s Next Great Designer. They joked about smoking “wacky-tobacky” and even played a quick round of “Who’s High?” with pedestrians on Hollywood Boulevard.
After all of that silliness, it would not have been easy to pivot into the serious allegations against her guest. And Kimmel didn’t try. Instead, he set DeGeneres up for a simultaneously endearing, humorous and concerning story about how she had to drive her wife Portia de Rossi to the emergency room for an appendectomy while very stoned. “It’s probably not safe, I shouldn’t be saying any of that,” she admitted at one point.
The second half of their interview was dedicated to DeGeneres’ love of furniture and charity work to help endangered species. From there, the two hosts related to each other by trying to see if they remembered various strange things they have done on their talk shows over the course of many years.
In fact, the only sketchy behavior that did come up was something that Kimmel did on the air. Ending the game, DeGeneres read from her card, “Did you ever surprise a guest—oh my god!—did you ever surprise a guest by showing him or her your penis on air?”
“Yeah, I did do that,” Kimmel told her. “I did that to George Clooney and Hugh Laurie.” After playing a clip of that moment from a past sketch with the two actors, the host ended the segment.
Now, obviously, Kimmel—who’s hosting DeGeneres’ buddy George W. Bush on his show this Wednesday night—is not Anderson Cooper or Oprah Winfrey. And a late-night comedy show is not necessarily the best place for DeGeneres to address the allegations, which included sexual misconduct by her top producers and the host herself accused of secretly being “one of the meanest people alive.” But for it to not even come up reveals just how much celebrities tend to give their celebrity friends cover when low-level staffers suffer abuse.
And it also raises the question of whether DeGeneres only agreed to the appearance under the condition that her scandal would be ignored—or if she just knew it would be.
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