MANILA – American TV host Ellen DeGeneres returned for the 18th season of her talk show on Monday, but the setup was a little bit different due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Instead of having people in the studio, her team set up rows of screens to make up her live virtual audience.
“For those of you watching at home, many have noticed that there is no audience. Obviously that’s because we can’t have people physically here, but what is stopping me from putting a whole bunch of TVs in the audience having people virtually here? Nothing at all. So that’s what I did,” she said.
Among the lucky ones who got to be a part of it was Pinoy actor JM Rodriguez.
On his Instagram page, Rodriguez shared a screenshot of himself on a television screen as part of DeGeneres' virtual audience.
He wrote: “Was lucky to be part of the Ellen show virtual audience. It was the first episode of the new season which started at 5 a.m. Manila time, and I was wide awake of course. I also won a TV YAY!”
The TV was courtesy of DeGeneres, who gave away 65-inch 4K TCL TV to every virtual audience member as a prize.
“This is like a regular audience except now I’m watching you on TV while you’re watching me on TV and the people at home are watching me on TV watching my audience on TV who are watching me on TV. So everything is normal. I can talk to my virtual audience like a normal audience,” DeGeneres said.
During her opening monologue, DeGeneres publicly addressed for the first time the controversy surrounding her, after BuzzFeed News published a report over the summer detailing a culture of fear among her employees that included accusations of sexual misconduct, racism and intimidation from the show's management.
The scathing reports followed rumors and anecdotal posts on social media that DeGeneres was difficult to work with -- and not nearly as nice as her feel-good show portrayed her to be.
"I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected. I know that I'm in a position of privilege and power and I realized that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show," DeGeneres said.
The TV host said her program was kicking off a "new chapter" after "necessary changes" following an internal investigation from parent company Warner Media, though she did not go into detail on any of the restructuring. – With Agence France Presse