Wednesday, April 24, 2024

“Young and the Restless” Exec Producer Ousted as Actress’s Sexual Harassment Trial Looms in March


Anthony Morina, co-executive producer of CBS soap “The Young and the Restless,” has been ousted from his job after many years. For the time being, the show’s headwriter will serve as sole EP.

No reason was given for Morina’s exit, but here’s what’s going on: Last year Morina and CBS were sued by a background actress named Briana Thomas for sexual harassment. Thomas is not really known to the audience. She played a barista in the show’s coffeehouse, the kind of person you don’t notice. She said in her complaint that she appeared on the show more than 150 times between 2018 and 2019.

The audience might not have noticed her but Thomas says Morina did. Now her lawsuit is coming up for trial in March 2023. CBS either settled with her and Morina’s exit was part of the deal, or the reality of the trial has forced the network’s hand. Morina has been with the show on and off for years. His wife, Sally Sussman Morina, had been a long time writer there as well. But in 2017 she was let go.

Thomas says in her complaint that Morina offered her private acting lessons and made inappropriate comments to her about her appearance in a bikini. That sort of thing. She alleges there was touching involved, and veiled threats about her continued employment if she didn’t get with the program. Thomas says when she didn’t respond and continually brushed Morina away, he began to retaliate finally she was fired.

If Morina did that in 2018 it’s clear he could not “read a room.” The #MeToo movement started only a year earlier. Not too smart.

Also, very weirdly and presciently, the soap had a sexual harassment lawsuit story in the summer of 2017 that preceded the #MeToo revelations of late fall 2017 in real life. He must have missed those episodes.

“The Young and the Restless” has had a lot of issues with sexual harassment in the last few years. Another popular actor, Michael Muhney, was fired after rumors swirled that he’d harassed a younger actress, Hunter King. The rumors started when the husband of then head of CBS daytime, Angelica McDaniel, a comic named Brian McDaniel, repeated them on “TMZ.” No charges were ever filed, and no one else reported what McDaniel said, but Muhney was out. Maybe not so coincidentally, CBS gave King an additional job on a prime time series. She’s no longer with the network.

You can read Thomas’s complaint here in a public document that Deadline has watermarked as if it’s their own.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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