"What's a small-town girl turned L.A. businesswoman to do when her high-profile, high-finance start-up Internet company goes belly up? And when her social life out west is not doing so great either? Well, as played by Emmy winner Ellen DeGeneres, she reacts by saying goodbye to her dot-com world and heading back to her hometown to put her life together. It remains to be seen, however, whether the best way to do that is by becoming a counselor at her old high school--they still teach Home Economics, for crying out loud--and by moving in with her eccentric mother and unlucky-in-love sister."
"Ellen Richmond (DeGeneres)...decides to trade the stresses of her fast-track, big-city lifestyle for the slower pace of her quieter hometown, where she is known and loved. It remains to be seen, however, whether or not returning to her hometown, a fishbowl of a place, and her eccentric mother, Dot (Cloris Leachman), and scatter-brained sister, Catherine (Emily Rutherfurd), is the best course of action. At home, Ellen becomes reacquainted with her senior prom date, Rusty (Jim Gaffigan), who thinks they can pick up where they left off, and her befuddled high school teacher, Mr. Munn (Martin Mull). Though worlds apart from the people who love her, Ellen begins to adjust to a very different way of life." (CBS press release)
DeGeneres bounced back from the cancellation of her ABC sitcom with this star vehicle, previously titled Ellen, Again. Like her ABC sitcom, her character was, yep, gay. (The series was nominated in 2002 for a GLAAD award for Outstanding Comedy Series.) Unlike her ABC sitcom, it was actually funny. Ellen was in good company, surrounded by a supporting cast full of actors from a wide array of failed CBS TV series. The chemistry was great, the scripts were good. All the cards seemed to be in place. Except for the audience one. A roaring ratings failure from Day 1, The Ellen Show was on just about every pundit's list as one of the sure-thing casualties of the fall -- especially after its lead-out bit the dust after two weeks -- with many of them speculating that CBS was waiting until Ellen's gig hosting the November, 2001 Emmy Awards (that it was their turn to broadcast, and that were postponed a couple times thanks to 9/11) was over and done with before rendering the show over and done with. That way, Ms. DeGeneres -- never one to accept rejection graciously -- couldn't get even by hosting them the Whoopi Goldberg way. But then a funny thing happened. Ellen did a fine job hosting the ceremony, winning lots of critical raves and managing to make people forget about what was going on in the world. And while The Ellen Show probably should have been cancelled anyway, CBS followed up her hosting performance with something even better than a standing ovation or a bouquet of roses. They awarded her show a 22-episode full season. Those same pundits were stunned, and the ailing sitcom seemed like it had a new lease on life when the network followed up the announcement with one stating that it would get a 3-week trial run Mondays at 8:30, a time slot that was nothing if not better than the dead-air equivalent it held on Friday. Unfortunately, after the Monday tryout was over, it returned to Friday -- as if CBS CEO Les Moonves had forgotten when the same exact programming move worked wonders for the languishing ratings of a certain self-entitled Gregory Hines vehicle four years earlier. Ratings even worse than they had been before it moved to Monday, coupled with limp numbers when it was on Monday, prompted Moonves and company to wish they hadn't been so magnanimous, and after the cast and crew managed to shoot 18 of those 22 episodes, the plug was pulled. As was the show itself, so as not to do damage to the Don Bellisario project, First Monday, scheduled to air following it. CBS had 5 episodes of The Ellen Show at their disposal, and chief CBS spokesman/B.S. artist extraordinaire, Chris Ender, swore that they'd air in March and April, 2002 -- going so far as to insult everybody's intelligence by claiming that the series was under consideration for the fall, and production was only stopped because they didn't "have room" for 4 more episodes (crapola nonsense that they'd later rehash for another lame duck, The Stones). Of course, the only thing they didn't have room for anymore were the huge defecits. Advertisers had their fill, and those 5 episodes went straight to the nearest trash can. Curiously, although Ellen's complaints about ABC's supposed mistreatment of a show given four and a half seasons, great time slots and a huge send-off could fill volumes, her complaints about CBS' actual mistreatment of a show given three and a half months, terrible time slots and no send-off couldn't even fill a postcard. Perhaps this was because she had already set her sights on her daytime talk show, which would debut to big hoopla, if not big ratings, two seasons later.
A little trivia: The Ellen Show was originally proposed as a show-within-a-show that lampooned the TV industry, featuring Ellen as the host of a fictitious variety series (The New Ellen Show). Practically no one at CBS was interested, and so instead, we got this. Ellen said she got the idea of The Ellen Show while watching Ed. The series was originally set to be produced by Michael Ovitz's production company, the Artists Television Group, who did make the pilot. However, the editor bankrupted them, and CBS took over their ownership stake before the first episode aired. The other ATG show picked up for Fall, 2001, WB's Lost in the USA, was not so lucky. When ATG died, so did it.
Theme song "The Ellen Show (Main Title Theme)" written by Jude Christodal
The Ellen Show is produced by The Hurwitz Company / CBS Productions, in association with Columbia TriStar Television
Broadcast History -----------------
Sep 2001, Mon 9:30-10:00 Sep 2001-Oct 2001, Fri 8:00-8:30 Oct 2001-Nov 2001, Fri 8:30-9:00 Dec 2001, Mon 8:30-9:00 Dec 2001-Jan 2002, Fri 8:30-9:00
First telecast: September 24, 2001 Last telecast: January 11, 2002 Show type: Multi-Camera Sitcom Number of episodes: 18 Media: 35mm filmmoreless