What the heck is going on at CBS’s long running soap opera, “The Young and the Restless”? It’s starting to sound like a real life soap opera. Over the weekend, TMZ ran a story claiming that actor Michael Muhney was fired from the soap–allegedly–for sexually harassing actress Hunter King. Allegedly. He’s 38, married with three kids, and very popular. She’s just turned 20. The TMZ story was as quick a way to tar and feather Muhney’s career if not his life, all with unnamed sources. King was thrown under a bus, whether the story is true or false.
How would such a story wind up in TMZ? Put aside the main nut of the story– that Muhney allegedly groped King’s breasts on two occasions. Stories about soap opera actors aren’t generally the world of TMZ, which bases most of its material on video and photo ambushes, overheard comments from minor celebrities, and following people until they do something.
It does turn out that CBS Daytime chief Angelica McDaniel is married to Brian McDaniel, a comedian who works with TMZ and often appears on their syndicated television show. Wikipedia lists him as a TMZ “editor” and he is repeatedly referred to in published reports as a regular on the show. It’s a pretty narrow coincidence that the “Young and the Restless” story turned up on TMZ at all, of all the “gossip” columns — including the soap opera press– in the world.
The TMZ story was loaded with information that could only have come from a real insider– including King’s name. Ordinarily in such matters, the so-called would be protected at all costs. Muhney may have triggered all this when he tweeted–before CBS could announce it– that he’d been “fired” from the show.
Usually the network simply says an actor is “moving on” or some other innocuous comment. But Muhney’s own surprise Tweet may have riled someone– perhaps allegedly McDaniel– to give TMZ more than just a tip for a story. Each actor may be considering what to do next as their privacy has been violated. If Angelica McDaniel passed along information about an ongoing sexual harassment issue at one of her shows to her husband, that may be a bigger issue than what may or may not have happened between Muhney and King.
I’ve sent an email to Brian McDaniel, and will let you know how he replies.