Pop Culture

‘The Kelly Clarkson Show’ Employees Describe ‘Toxic’ Workplace

Kelly Clarkson on The Kelly Clarkson Show

The Kelly Clarkson Show is the latest daytime talk show accused of fostering a toxic work environment. It’s a disappointing allegation against the popular talk show (and de facto successor to The Ellen Degeneres Show), which Clarkson has hosted since in 2019. The beloved singer and talk show host first rose to prominence in 2002, when she won the first-ever season of American Idol. Clarkson remains one of the franchise’s most successful stars, selling over 25 million albums and 45 million singles worldwide. One of the most popular artists of the 2000s, Clarkson has garnered multiple Grammy wins and countless accolades for her music.

Given her star power and likeability, it wasn’t surprising that her enormous fan base flocked to her talk show in 2019. In its four seasons, TKCS has racked up 13 Daytime Emmy Awards and positive reviews. Clarkson makes for a refreshing, energetic, and relatable host, drawing celebrity guests and generating viral moments with her covers of popular songs during her “Kellyoke” segment. The show has been renewed for a fifth season, and was granted the coveted former time slot of The Ellen DeGeneres Show after Ellen concluded in 2022.

However, Clarkson’s show has now joined the ranks of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Dr. Phil, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, and TMZ on TV in a less appealing way, amid allegations of a toxic workplace environment from former and current employees.

The Kelly Clarkson Show staffers allege toxic workplace

Kelly Clarkson on The Kelly Clarkson Show
(NBC Universal)

Rolling Stone spoke with 10 former and one current staff member on The Kelly Clarkson Show and reported on their troubling allegations of a toxic workplace environment on set. The allegations included instances of bullying, harassment, and retaliation, as well as a lack of action from Human Resources. Staffers detailed how they were overworked, underpaid, and subjected to mistreatment by the higher-ups and executives on the show. Many staffers took part-time jobs to supplement their meager income from the series. However, the staffers did express a shared belief that Clarkson herself wasn’t aware of what was happening on the set, and would be appalled if she did know. Instead, they pointed to executive producer Alex Duda as the main source of toxicity on the set.

Employees alleged that Duda is part of the reason these complaints and issues don’t reach Clarkson. They accused Duda and her fellow executives of verbally and emotionally abusing the show’s employees, and of retaliating against staffers who reported these incidents to HR. The explosive article details bullying, mistreatment, and a volatile work environment. One employee suggested the show address the wave of anti-Asian hate, only to be reprimanded by Duda and then punished after reporting the incident to HR. And despite multiple complaints and internal investigations, said executives remained on set and even received promotions.

NBC responds to allegations against The Kelly Clarkson Show

A spokesperson for NBC released a statement to PEOPLE addressing the troubling allegations and staunchly denying them. The statement read:

“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.”

Clarkson herself responded to the allegation via Instagram, writing “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 added that both her new and senior team will undergo leadership training “to ensure that any notion of toxicity is eradicated.”

The recurrence of these allegations suggests a brutal cycle in the realm of daytime television, where these executives make abusive work environments the industry standard. Duda herself has worked on The Tyra Banks Show, Steve Harvey, Talk Soup, and many more, with little to no accountability. One former employee said, “I think Alex Duda’s a monster, … 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.” Hopefully this exposé will inspire a culture and regime change at The Kelly Clarkson Show.

(via The Rolling Stone, featured image: NBC Universal)

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