Ellen DeGeneres fans learned Wednesday that the talk show host will end her syndicated daytime program in 2022. Now, she’s addressing them directly about her decision to end the show after 19 seasons.
In a four-minute monologue that will be broadcast on Thursday’s program, DeGeneres said: “Two years ago, I signed a deal for three more years and I always knew in my heart that Season 19 would be my last.”
“Nineteen is a great number. First of all, the 19th amendment gave women the right to vote. This may be controversial, but I believe women should be allowed to vote. I said it,” DeGeneres said in the clip, mixing serious thoughts with the meandering beats and strategic pauses that are signature of her comedic style. “Also, on the periodic table, 19 is the atomic number for potassium.”
DeGeneres, who noted she recently reached the 3,000-episode milestone, went on to explain her decision to end the talk show, which premiered in 2003.
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“The truth is, I always trust my instincts. My instinct told me it’s time. As a comedian, I’ve always understood the importance of,” she said, pausing: “timing. In all seriousness, I truly have felt like next season was the right time to end this amazing chapter.”
She added that in 1997 she also relied on her instincts when she came out as lesbian on her ABC sitcom, deciding to “live my truth.”
DeGeneres revealed the decision Wednesday in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “When you’re a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged – and as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore,” DeGeneres said.
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Although DeGeneres’ show has been one of the powerhouses of daytime TV, the move isn’t surprising considering the age and cost of the program. DeGeneres is said to make $50 million a year in a contract that expires next year and she has spoken publicly in the past about possibly ending the show.
Ratings have tumbled 43% this season, averaging 1.4 million viewers, down from 2.5 million at this point last year.
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DeGeneres, 63, said she “meditated” on the decision to end her show, including having discussions with her wife, Portia de Rossi.
“I talked to Portia. I talked to myself. A few times, I was talking to myself and Portia thought I was talking to her. One time I was talking to Portia, but she thought I was talking to myself because of the other times when I was talking to myself, and she thought I was talking to her,” she joked. “One time, I was talking to Alexa and Siri answered, and then another time I was talking to the TV, and I accidentally texted my eye doctor. The point is, I need to take a break from talking.”
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She thanked fans for the bond formed over the long run of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
“So, the past 18 years, you have to know, has changed my life. You all have changed my life and I am forever grateful to all of you for watching, for laughing, for dancing … sometimes crying,” she said. “This show has been the greatest experience of my life, and I owe it all to you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
DeGeneres does not mention in her monologue the controversy that swirled around her show last year after allegations of toxic workplace conditions and mistreatment came to light. Three executive producers were ousted as a result of an internal workplace review and DeGeneres apologized privately to her staffers and publicly on air last September. Although every talk show has dropped in the ratings this year, the decline for “Ellen” has been steeper.
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DeGeneres told the The Hollywood Reporter that her decision to end the show was not related to last summer’s allegations. “It almost impacted the show. It was very hurtful to me. I mean, very. But if I was quitting the show because of that, I wouldn’t have come back this season,” she said. (Local stations across the country have contracts guaranteeing the show through 2022.)
Thursday’s program will feature an appearance by Oprah Winfrey, another daytime talk show legend, and Pink, who sings the “Ellen” program’s theme song.
Contributing by Kelly Lawler