Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres took Youtube viral sensation Greyson Chance under her wing when he was only 12 years old. She signed him to her Interscope imprint, eleveneleven records as her first act, introduced him to managers and staff. But once his star began to fade, Greyson tells Rolling Stone in a new interview that she completely abandoned him.
The singer is 25 years old now, and has just released a new album. But when a video of him singing Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” during a school assembly in Oklahoma blew up on Youtube in 2010, Ellen invited him on to her popular talk show. She gifted him with a new piano and $10,000. She took his mother aside and declared that she’d never have to work a day in her life and promised to protect her son. “I’m going to be here for you. We’re going to do this together,” she said.
Ellen became a controlling presence in Greyson’s life
But once she signed him to her record label, she immediately became a controlling presence in Greyson’s life. She believed she was investing in the next Justin Bieber, and she was going to make sure things were done to HER specifications. Unfortunately, Ellen didn’t know anything about the music business.
After releasing his first mini EP in October 2010, the American Idol judge was only a phone call away. But as Greyson began his touring schedule, Ellen increasingly became “really invested” in the singer, but also she “became domineering and way too controlling,” Greyson told RS.
Greyson claims Ellen was like a “hidden eye” over his career. “My whole week, my whole month, my whole year could change [with] one text message from her,” Greyson told RS. “That was horrible.” For instance, after watching a video of a performance his team put together for a television show, she made them redo the entire thing. “If she had an opinion of any sort, the whole thing changed,” he said.
Greyson claims Ellen berated and manipulated him, his mom and team
On another occasion, Ellen sent him a copy of Bieber’s Never Say Never documentary. In the midst of a tour, and exhausted, Greyson didn’t make watching it a priority. “I’ll never forget this,” Greyson said. “I just remember hearing on the other side of the phone, just yelling [and] beratement: ‘What type of mother are you? Do you realize that I went out of my way to get this for you, and he can’t sit down and watch it?’”
After screaming at his mom, Ellen spoke to Greyson. “Disappointed isn’t even remotely what I’m feeling right now,” Greyson remembered her saying. At that point, the singer began to feel like a pawn in her game. ” So I watched the movie.”
Greyson’ mom Lisa told RS how Ellen controlled the clothes Greyson wore. He was specifically never allowed to wear leather, due to Ellen’s veganism at the time. “She would come in and look at a rack, yell at stylists, berate people in front of me and say, ‘This is what you’re wearing on the show,’” he remembered. “She was just degrading to people.”
After Greyson’s career began to slide, Ellen abandoned him
After Greyson’s career began to underperform at the end of 2012, Ellen basically ghosted him. He appeared on her talk show a few times after that, but it was all business. When he tried to reach out to her personally, she would not return his calls.
“I couldn’t get ahold of her. Couldn’t talk to her,” Greyson told RS. “Whenever I would come on the show, it was such a fake smile. She wouldn’t even ask, ‘How are you doing? How are you holding up?’ It was just like, ‘Here’s what we’re going to talk about. We’ll see you on there.’”
After the label dropped Greyson, he moved back to Oklahoma and finished high school online. Then he enrolled in the University of Tulsa and studied History. It was during college when he decided music was the career he really wanted pursue. He’s been in charge of his own career ever since.
Rumors of Ellen’s nasty backstage temperament swirled for years. But they finally came to the forefront when, in 2020, staff members on her talk show accused producers of emotional abuse and racism. Ellen fired people and promoted SYTYCD alum tWitch as an executive producer. And then the following year, she announced that after 19 seasons she was ending the show. Her staff now producers The Jennifer Hudson Show.