Just days after it was announced that “The Kelly Clarkson Show” would be officially moving production from Los Angeles to New York City for its fifth season this fall comes word of toxicity behind the scenes at the daytime talk show, according to a bombshell report by Rolling Stone, published on Friday.
While staffers say Kelly Clarkson herself is “fantastic,” some of her producers, including executive producer/showrunner Alex Duda, get the brunt of the accusations. “I think Alex Duda’s a monster,” a former employee told Rolling Stone. “I have a friend who’s an executive producer who warned me about taking this job, because apparently she has done this on every show she’s worked on.”
Among the 11 current and former employees interviewed for the piece, they all seemed to agree that Clarkson was unaware of any problems for lower-level staffers, who the outlet claims have had to take on additional work outside of the show to help them pay their bills, including as Uber Eats drivers, dog walkers, and even babysitters, among other work. There’s also frustration that despite some leaving the show for other careers, the “toxic” culture still remained despite a number of complaints to Human Resources about the behaviors.
A former staffer who had taken a leave of absence from the show due to mental health matters stemming from the treatment they received by producers, including bullying and intimidation, says they went to see a psychiatrist for the first time in their entire life because they “truly couldn’t handle it mentally.” Additionally, the same staffer noted that despite working in the entertainment industry for several years, their time at “The Kelly Clarkson Show” was “by far the worst experience I’ve ever had in my entire life.” They added, “It deterred me from wanting to work in daytime ever again. When I say I was traumatized, I was really traumatized.”
Some of the accusations brought against “The Kelly Clarkson Show” draw eerily similar to those brought against “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which led to the firing of three executive producers and the eventual end of the daytime talk show. There were also similar complaints of toxicity at Telepictures, the production company behind some of the longest-running daytime talk shows in daytime TV history, including “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” and “The Tyra Banks Show,” the latter of which is where Duda worked before taking the job at “The Kelly Clarkson Show.”
In the Rolling Stone piece, the continuation of similar patterns at all those shows is blamed on the recycling of the same executive producers and showrunners who go from show to show while bringing their experiences and behaviors along with them.
While Clarkson and producer NBCUniversal are said to have not provided comment ahead of Rolling Stone’s publishing its investigation, the two parties have since issued formal responses.
In a lengthy post on Instagram, Clarkson said, “In my 20 years in the entertainment industry, I’ve always led with my heart and what I believed to be right. I love my team at ‘The Kelly Clarkson Show,’ and to find out that anyone is feeling unheard and or disrespected on this show is unacceptable.” She noted, “I have always been, and will continue to be, committed to creating and maintaining a safe and healthy environment at ‘The Kelly Clarkson Show.’ As we prepare for a move to the East Coast, I am more committed than ever to ensuring that not only our team that is moving, but also our new team in NY, is comprised of the best and kindest in the business.”
Stating that those in leadership positions need to do better, always, Clarkson revealed that she and her senior staff will partake in leadership training so that everyone can be/become “the best version of ourselves.” She says, “Part of that build will include leadership training for all of the senior staff, including myself. There is always room to grow and ensure we are all being/becoming the best version of ourselves in any business, especially when it comes to leadership, to ensure that any notion of toxicity is eradicated.”
As for NBCUniversal, a statement from the company says, “We are committed to a safe and respectful work environment and take workplace complaints very seriously, and to insinuate otherwise is untrue. When issues are reported, they are promptly reviewed, investigated and acted upon as appropriate. The Kelly Clarkson Show strives to build a safe, respectful and equitable workplace that nurtures a culture of inclusivity and creativity.”
For more information on the Rolling Stone investigation, including further implications cited by current and former employees of the talk show, read the full story.