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By Suzanne
Y&R's Real Life Soap Opera
1/4/14

Michael Muhney

Sometimes the soap opera behind-the-scenes is juicier than what's been written for the show. That's certainly the case right now with the firing of actor Michael Muhney, who plays Adam.  Muhney is very popular with fans because he's a fantastic actor and has always been very outspoken on Twitter. He's been very good about responding to fans and good about letting us "press" interview him. Until now, anyway.

He was fired right before Christmas and gave this interview about what happened. At the time, I wondered why he would go on just the Canadian version of Huffington Post, but the interviewer is Nelson Branco, a Canadian soap opera writer (formerly working for TV Guide Canada). He's also very outspoken and has long been a Muhney fan. I wondered if perhaps Muhney was Canadian, but it turns out, he's from Chicago.

Hunter KingNow it appears that no one else would interview him before the facts came out (or else he wouldn't let anyone else interview him that might ask about the rumors).  Right after his firing, rumors leaked out that Muhney had gotten in trouble for groping actress Hunter King (Summer) and possibly another younger actress on the show.

I didn't want to believe it was true, and neither did any of his other fans. He's just such a good actor and so darn likable. He really put everything into playing Adam. Adam did despicable things and yet Muhney made us love him.  The first actor who played Adam (Chris Engen) was also good, but he left the role in a storm of controversy, too. He didn't like it when the writers had Adam kissing and having sex with Rafe (most of us hated that story, anyway, since it was not consistent with Adam's history and seemed very contrived).  Muhney came in and did a great job of making us both love and hate Adam. A lot of rumors are always going on about the actors and the TV shows, particularly when one of them gets fired. The shows seldom tell us what's going on, and the actors rarely do, so fans are left to speculate.

It certainly seemed evident right away that something weird was going on, since he was fired so quickly, and he was very popular. Adam was right in the forefront of the stories and is the son of one of the show's patriarchs, Victor Newman. It doesn't help that the show's executive producer, Jill Farren Phelps, has long been seen as someone who hires the actors she likes (usually from other shows she's been on) and fires ones she doesn't.  Hunter King, for instance, had been on JFP's previous show, "Hollywood Heights", as had Robert Adamson (Noah) and Melissa Ordway (Abby). JFP was the former executive producer of General Hospital for many years, and she also recently hired Steve Burton (Dylan), who played Jason on GH for years.

JFP has done this for many years (bringing in people she's worked with on other soaps), so much so that the actors are called Friends of Jill or FOJ.  I suspect that it's fairly common to hire people you like when you move from one producing job to another, and she may not do it any more than others.  Sometimes sexism can be involved in castigating a woman in a suit more than people would for a man who does the same thing. She is definitely someone who is hired to cut costs, and that often involves firing highly-paid actors.  That won't make you very popular.  For whatever reason, there are far too many "new" people on Y&R lately. It makes it difficult to watch and difficult to care about the characters or the stories.

However, even Muhney said in his interview that his firing was not JFP's fault, nor that of CBS or Y&R. He speculated that his firing may have had to do with the fact that he has been so outspoken, and he also said that they told him they were letting him go for storyline reasons. They're writing Adam out and bringing him back later with another actor. This, of course, made no sense whatsoever. You don't fire an actor just because he says some things on Twitter. If that were true, Eric Braeden (Victor) would have been long gone.

It also doesn't help that several major actors have left the show lately, such as Billy Miller and Michelle Stafford. I think Stafford may have left due to money, but Miller reportedly left because they wouldn't give him enough time off to do other projects (what they call "outs").  It's kind of weird that Miller and Muhney's characters have been facing off on Y&R this year, and now they're both leaving.  Both have been giving outstanding performances as fathers going through hell.

Right after the rumors started, a few of the Y&R cast members, Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki) and Doug Davidson (Paul) hinted that there was a very good reason for Muhney's firing. The only one who seemed to stick up for Muhney was Sharon Case (Sharon) who had shared many stories with him. She made a nice little video about the two of them together. The whole thing was very strange, and it was hard not to wonder what the heck was going on. The holidays came along, so there was no more news about it.

Meanwhile, some of his fans started petitions to get him re-hired, and they argued about it on message boards (as fans always do). Until now.  TMZ has reported that the rumors are true. Michael Muhney was fired for sexually harassing Hunter King. According to the report, he bullied her and groped her breasts twice.  There isn't much else they said about it, but it seems clear that he was, indeed, fired for this reason, unless some other news comes out that says otherwise. Every major soap site is reporting this, so it's probably true.

When it comes to sexual harassment, there is no tolerance. You don't get put in jail, like you might for a more violent assault, but it is a type of assault and a person can be fired for it.  If it was just Hunter King's word against his, my guess is, he probably wouldn't have been fired. She must have some sort of proof, or he admitted it. Either someone else witnessed it, or she recorded it, or he admitted it, or he did it to someone else as well (possibly he has a history of it). Otherwise, they would not have fired him. (This is all speculation on my part, of course)  Companies are sensitive to legal problems, but I don't think they would just fire him based on her word (unless there is something in his contract that lets them just fire him for no reason). They would risk his suing them otherwise. Even so, I doubt they would just take her word for it, since he's so popular and is a major character.

It's a shame that Muhney felt that he had to cover this up, but I guess I can understand that he didn't want to look bad or didn't want to jeopardize his career. Sometimes these things don't come out into the open, but with the paparazzi and the internet, it is less and less the case.  If he did do this, it's very sad and pathetic. What a waste of great talent. I feel bad for his family. I hope he is able to get counseling and solve these problems he has. If he didn't do it, he should definitely speak up and sue Y&R/CBS/Sony.

If he is guilty, good for Hunter King for standing up for herself and exposing him as a predator.  I'm guessing it was not easy for her. Sexual harassment is, unfortunately, very common still in the workplace, and young women are often preyed upon because men know they often will not report it. Being young and inexperienced, it's hard to come forth and risk your job and reputation, and the wrath of the predator (not to mention his fans). It's quite an ordeal for anyone. It's very easy to just say, okay, just ignore it and move on, and that happens far too much. Even now, I doubt there are too many women who can say they've never been sexually harassed in the workplace (not necessarily physically).  I really admire Hunter King for coming forth. She did the right thing and deserves our praise, not our scorn.  She's probably saved some other young women from getting harassed and probably inspired some others to come forth and tell their tales.

I enjoy watching Y&R, but it's difficult to watch the show when there are so many turbulent behind-the-scenes problems. There have been many problems in the show for the past year. I hope they are able to settle down now and stop hiring and firing people, and write good stories.

Update: here's more on the story from Tommy's column.

Here's a really good article that lays all this out better than I did, plus she does make some excellent points I hadn't thought of. (Sorry, I had the wrong link here before)

From Kristoff St. John

Muhney Breaks Silence

Jerry Douglas thinks Muhney is high strung and emotional

Eric Braeden speaks 

The opinions in these articles are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The TV MegaSite or its other volunteers.

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