Ellen DeGeneres reflects on her bumpy road to talk show glory

Endured hard times between coming out on ABC sitcom and start in daytime

Ellen DeGeneres reflects on her bumpy road to talk show glory
23 August 2012

When looking at the career of Ellen DeGeneres as a whole, it would appear she’s had a charmed existance.

Her sitcom, Ellen, ran for four seasons on ABC and she won an Emmy for writing the famous episode in 1997 in which her character came out – at around the same time DeGeneres came out publicly.

Then since 2003, she has won many more Emmys for daytime’s The Ellen DeGeneres Show which beings its 10th season next month.

But DeGeneres confesses in the current issue of The Hollywood Reporter that the years between her sitcom and her talk show were far more lean than she could have imagined when she decided to declare to the world ‘Yep, I’m gay’ on the cover of Time magazine.

‘I assumed there would be some fallout, but I didn’t realize the amount,’ she says, her welling up. ‘I was that person before, and I thought, ‘How did I lose my entire fan base?’ It’s not like all of a sudden I ripped some mask off.’

The sitcom’s ratings fell and the show was soon canceled after the coming out episode. DeGeneres was so upset that she retreated from showbiz for awhile by moving to Ojai, California, with then partner Anne Heche.

‘I was heartbroken. I thought, ‘I don’t want to be a part of this business. It’s shallow and superficial,’ she recalls. ‘I work my ass off and do something that I think is important and this is how I’m rewarded?”

She didn’t work in television for three years and because she didn’t own any part of the show named after her, she nearly ran out of money.

‘It felt like it was the end of the world, like nothing was ever going to change, and I was never going to work again,’ she says now.

She eventually began to write stand-up material and went on tour then her voice was featured in the wildly successful Pixar film Finding Nemo (she’s in talks to participate in the sequel). She starred in a sitcom for CBS during the 2001-02 television season called The Ellen Show and was a big hit as host of the post-Sept. 11 Emmy Awards in 2001.

After the Emmys success, she was asked to host Saturday Night Live then her own talk show.

She was back in a big way.

Her journey has taught her that no matter the risk, to always be herself.

‘I know that every time I list something that I am, I am potentially alienating a whole group of people,’ she says. ‘Publicists and managers will encourage you not to say what political party you belong to, what you eat, what you don’t eat, who you sleep with and all that stuff.’

‘I just think it’s dangerous. People need to have all kinds of examples and heroes on television who stand for something.’



No thumbnail available

Gay Star News partners with Student Pride

The national event included a careers fair, panel discussions, performances, and a club night.
No thumbnail available

US track star wins silver medal in Russia, dedicates win to LGBT friends back home

Nick Symmonds: 'I do have respect for this nation. I disagree with their rules'
No thumbnail available

Shonda Rhimes: I'm not diversifying TV, I'm 'normalizing' it

Scandal producer receives HRC award for her portrayal of LGBTI people
No thumbnail available

Christian lawyer: Gay marriage will cause 900,000 abortions

'The two are closely linked in a short and simple causal chain'
No thumbnail available

Neil Patrick Harris reflects on 2014: "The most glorious year of clusterf***s"

He juggled sitcom with Broadway show, two movies and writing a book
No thumbnail available

Gay couples can get married in Idaho starting Wednesday

US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issues order after Supreme Court rejects state's request for a stay
No thumbnail available

Woman throws paint at gay sauna, manager responds perfectly

‘I've dealt with enough of these morons in my life that I am not affected by it. But I am really annoyed that she used a boring off-white. I would have much preferred fluorescent green'
No thumbnail available

Thorpe enjoys wave of support after coming out as gay

Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe, who announced he is gay on TV interview, is enjoying a wealth of support after his long-awaited coming out 
No thumbnail available

Political claims and counter claims on same-sex marriage in Australia

Deposed Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd has denied telling LGBT activists that same-sex marriage would have been legalized if he was still leading the country and that his successor’s opposition on the issue is pure politics
No thumbnail available

First openly gay politician in Kenya seeks senate seat

David Kuria wants to legalize homosexuality and be known as the 'HIV politician'