Five years ago, Jill Farren Phelps broke the hearts of die-hard The Young and the Restless fans – me included – when she suddenly fired Michael Muhney, the beloved actor who played Adam Newman. Muhney, a fantastic actor with emotional depth who starred on Y&R from 2009-2014 and was nominated for an Emmy in 2013, played Adam Newman as a charismatic, ruthless yet sympathetic character.
His firing was a gut punch, both to Muhney and Young and Restless fans, and one that we didn’t see coming. A vicious yet untrue rumor was spread that Muhney had sexually harassed fellow co-star, Hunter King. This claim has since been proven to be a lie, and in that sense Michael has been vindicated. Another story that made the rounds was that Eric Braeden, who plays Victor Newman, despised Muhney, and as Y&R’s longest and biggest star, he worked hard to get rid of Muhney who had perhaps stolen some of his spotlight. This claim is easy to believe, since Braeden has made a point of badmouthing Muhney in numerous interviews and on Twitter, including blocking me and others on Twitter when we complained. I believe his exact words to me on Twitter were, “Kim Morgan, you are a bitch!”
For five years, fans begged Y&R, CBS and parent company, Sony, to rehire Muhney. The powers that be responded by hiring Justin Hartley, who has since left the show for a role on This is Us. After Hartley’s departure in 2016, rumors gained traction on the possible rehiring of Michael, particularly since he was sited on the Y&R set and also because Muhney, who tweets on a regular basis, has recently gone silent on Twitter.
Now we learn that an actor named Mark Grossman has been hired to play Adam. It appears that even though fans have made it clear that they want Muhney and only Muhney back, head writer Josh Griffin has other ideas.
Here’s where this is a marketing opportunity lost: ratings for soaps have fallen over the years, leading to some decades-long running soaps such as All My Children and One Life to Live to go off the air. Even Y&R’s rating have declined. Rehiring Muhney would be marketing genius. The spike in ratings and the deepening of loyalty among long-standing fans would be the stuff other soaps only dream of. And it would show loyal Y&R fans that their opinions and preferences matter.
Instead, Josh Griffin and Y&R have given the middle finger to viewers who have stuck by the show, despite being unhappy with story lines under Phelps and Mal Young in recent years. It appears that Griffin and Y&R assume we will always be around, even in our disappointment.
This would, however, be the perfect opportunity for a competitor, like General Hospital, to scoop up Michael Muhney. After all, GH has already hired two of Y&R’s most popular stars – Billy Miller and Michelle Stafford. Why not the most favorite one of all – Michael Muhney?
I may be a 30+ year fan of The Young and the Restless, but I’m willing to depart the soap if it means watching Muhney make his magic on another daytime TV show. I’m starting to feel a little taken for granted by Y&R and I know I’m not the only one.