“The Ellen DeGeneres Show” will stay dark next week amid the growing alarm about rising COVID-19 infection rates in Los Angeles County and the rest of California.
The syndicated daytime talk show has been airing reruns since Dec. 10 when DeGeneres announced that she had contracted coronavirus. The show had hoped to resume production on a Warner Bros. soundstage on Monday. But in a memo sent to “Ellen” staffers on Thursday, producers told employees to work from home next week and that no new episodes would be produced.
“Due to the current surge, we have decided that we will not do any shows next week and instead work from home,” producers wrote. The message also noted that “all staff and crew will be paid for the week” and that a COVID-19 testing schedule will be worked out for next week.
The decision on “Ellen” comes as California Gov. Gavin Newsom has asked Hollywood studios to consider pausing production activity amid the public health crisis that has left the state with precious few available hospital beds. A spokesman for the show reiterated, “because of the surge in L.A., the show is taking an additional week off for the safety of crew and staff.”
California has averaged 251 daily deaths from coronavirus over the past week, a rise of 24% compared to two weeks ago, according to the Los Angeles Times. Reports of dire conditions in the state’s hospitals have prompted a tightening of shut down and stay-at-home orders.
DeGeneres and her long-running talk show have weathered a number of controversies during the past 12 months. Early on in the pandemic lockdown, crew members complained that communication was patchy especially as it related to payroll concerns during the forced hiatus. There were also larger allegations of a toxic work environment on the highly-rated Telepictures Prods. series.
Those allegations, revealed in part by Variety, led to an internal investigation of the show by Warner Bros. That probe resulted in three longtime executive producers being forced out after specific allegations were found to be concerning to the studio.
The allegations were a sharp contrast with the “be kind” message that DeGeneres has championed since she moved into the daytime arena in 2003. DeGeneres addressed the controversy in the first episode of the 2020-21 season in September, saying that she had taken the complains to heart and promised to begin “a new chapter” for the show.