Kelly Clarkson Faces Accusations of ‘Toxic’ & ‘Traumatizing’ Workplace

Kelly Clarkson

Heavy/Getty A new report reveals the complaints of nearly a dozen current and former staffers at "The Kelly Clarkson Show"

Days after news broke that “The Kelly Clarkson Show” and its host, music superstar and “The Voice” coach Kelly Clarkson, are moving to New York, one current and 10 former staffers at the talk show have come forward in a scathing report by Rolling Stone on May 12, 2023, with claims of being “overworked, underpaid, and that working at the show was traumatizing to their mental health.”

About to wrap up its fourth season for NBC, “The Kelly Clarkson Show” took over the afternoon time slot of the long-running “Ellen DeGeneres Show” — 3 p.m. across most markets — in the fall of 2022, after DeGeneres ended her show amid accusations of fostering a toxic work environment.

Thrilled to be given the coveted time slot, Clarkson told Variety at the time, “I hold the Oprahs and the Ellens in such high regard. Very few people can conquer what they conquered. My team is very stoked, and I believe in my team. But by no means am I filling anyone’s shoes — I don’t want that pressure.”

Those interviewed for the Rolling Stone exposé maintained that Clarkson herself is “fantastic” but that she likely has not been aware of the toxicity occurring behind the scenes. Meanwhile, NBCU issued a statement denying the accusations.

Kelly Clarkson’s Executive Producer Described as a ‘Monster’

Carole Burnett, Kelly Clarkson

NBCCarol Burnett appeared with Kelly Clarkson on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” in April 2023

The staffers interviewed for Rolling Stone’s report requested anonymity out of fear of retribution, but the outlet called them “veterans in the entertainment industry who know the potential downsides of working in a high-pressure environment like daytime television.” Those interviewed said they were “confident” that Clarkson has been unaware of how unhappy employees at the show are.

“NBC is protecting the show because it’s their new money maker, but Kelly has no clue how unhappy her staff is,” one former employee said.

“The Kelly Clarkson Show,” which is up for 11 Emmys in 2023 and has been renewed for two more seasons, is overseen by executive producer and showrunner Alex Duda, who has been with the show since 2018, per Deadline, and has already committed to moving to New York with the show this summer. According to Rolling Stone, the staffers interviewed say she is primarily at fault for the toxic environment.

One former employee told the outlet, “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.”

According to Rolling Stone, the current and former staffers say it’s clear some employees are “favored by executive and senior producers” and that, despite numerous complaints to HR, unhealthy behavior by leaders behind the scenes continues.

One former employee, for instance, said they recently quit after “Duda yelled and cursed at them multiple times onstage,” saying that the working environment caused so much anxiety that they would “regularly vomit and exhibit physical signs of sickness.”

Another former employee who’s worked on a number of different shows said working on Clarkson’s show was “by far the worst experience I’ve ever had in my entire life” and that they “truly couldn’t handle it mentally.”

“It deterred me from wanting to work in daytime ever again,” the person told Rolling Stone, adding that they sought help from a psychiatrist. “When I say I was traumatized, I was really traumatized.”

Those interviewed described an environment in which there was frequent yelling, cursing and bullying — especially by Duda. Others mentioned a production manager who would throw a “temper tantrum” whenever he wasn’t satisfied.

Seven of the former staffers say they shared their negative experiences with NBCUniversal during their exit interviews. One said that the two producers they specifically complained about later received promotions.

Staffers Say Kelly Clarkson Is ‘Fantastic’ as NBCU Denies Allegations

The current and former staffers interviewed by Rolling Stone all said they doubted that Clarkson was aware of mistreatment and toxicity behind the scenes, saying it’s the antithesis of what she stands for.

One of them said, “Kelly is fantastic. She is a person who never treats anyone with anything but dignity and is incredibly appreciative. I would be shocked if she knew.”

The person added, “I’d be floored if she knew the staff wasn’t getting paid for two weeks of Christmas hiatus. The Kelly that I interacted with and that everyone knows would probably be pretty aghast to learn that.”

Rolling Stone said it had reached out to Clarkson and Duda but has not received responses from either. But NBCU issued a statement in response to the report hours after its publication, according to The Wrap. 

“We are committed to a safe and respectful work environment and take workplace complaints very seriously and to insinuate otherwise is untrue,” the statement said. “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.”

According to one employee who spoke with Rolling Stone, “The Kelly Clarkson Show” was scheduled to tape new episodes through May 20, but because of the writers’ strike that began on May 1, it’s not likely that the current season will be completed. Employees were told, the source said, that they’ll still be paid through the next few weeks.

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