Inside the MTV Awards Clash Over a Joke Writer Once Accused of Rape (Exclusive)

Writer has maintained his innocence

Last Updated: June 25, 2019 @ 10:44 AM

The morning after the MTV Movie & TV Awards last week, actor Harold Perrineau tweeted a pointed question to the network and the show’s host: “Did you really hire Murray Miller as a writer after [he was] accused of raping a minor?”

Perrineau, the star of “Lost” and “Claws,” had a very personal stake in the matter: One of his daughters was the minor in question. But prosecutors have declined to prosecute Miller, a writer whose credits include HBO’s “Girls,” and he has denied any wrongdoing.

Miller’s situation raises questions about what should happen to Hollywood men publicly accused of serious crimes, but never convicted or charged: Should they be blacklisted forever? Or allowed to go back to work?

But MTV’s hiring also raised questions from people inside the production who were blindsided by his involvement. Several show insiders said Miller didn’t work with other writers, and that they only learned of his participation after the event aired.

“I do not like that I share credits with him,” one writer for the show told TheWrap, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “I don’t like the idea that people might think that I actually worked with him. And I know for a fact that L.A. isn’t running low on comedy writers — there are a lot of people who never sexually assaulted anyone who would love to have that job. A lot of them are women.”

Miller was hired by the show’s director and producer, Joel Gallen, who has known Miller for 20 years, a representative for Miller told TheWrap. The representative said Miller “wrote content independently from his own office.”

“The DA dropped all charges,” Miller’s representative added.

Miller’s accuser, whose name is being withheld by TheWrap, went to police in November 2017 and said he had raped her years earlier, when she was 17. Prosecutors declined to press charges in August 2018 after investigating the possibility of charging Miller with two crimes: rape, specifically with an unconscious victim, and statutory rape. Prosecutors said the three-year statute of limitations had expired on statutory rape and declined to prosecute on the other rape charge, citing “inconsistencies and the delay in reporting.”

MTV did not respond to requests for comment on Monday. TheWrap also made several attempts to reach Gallen by phone, text and email.

At one point, a man using Gallen’s phone called a reporter and asked for “Wendy” — no one named Wendy had called for Gallen — then hung up in the apparent belief that he had reached a wrong number before the reporter could ask his name. Gallen did not respond to follow-up requests for comment.

Among those caught off guard by Miller’s involvement was the show’s host. “Zachary Levi had no involvement with the hiring process of the writers and was unaware of this,” a rep for the “Shazam!” star said.

Several writers on the show expressed their disappointment in the situation in a Twitter exchange in which Perrineau tried to ascertain who had hired Miller.

One writer, Eliza Skinner, wrote: “Gross. Very unhappy to be associated with him at all. I’m sorry.”

Another writer, Nick Wiger, added: “It was an unpleasant situation we were blindsided by.” He later told TheWrap he recalled Miller attending “a short kickoff meeting for the show,” but that he “didn’t realize who he was until after.”

Wiger also told TheWrap in an interview that Miller was “kind of a phantom peripheral presence” and that he believed Miller was “only in direct email communication with the showrunner,” referring to Gallen.

He said he wished the show hadn’t hired Miller: “There are so many other people who they could’ve hired instead,” Wiger said.

The show’s head writer, Dave Ferguson, tweeted: “I wasn’t involved in the hiring, and on this show the producers have different people/rooms working on different aspects of the production independently.”

Perrineau thanked them all, and said MTV had been aware of the situation beforehand. The Perrineau family declined to comment for this story.

“Because I sat through my child’s DA victims interview, and heard the LAPD evidence, it’s my job to make sure we keep abusers from working. And to continue to seek justice for her that the statute of limitations took away,” Perrineau wrote.

Another writer, Mike Lawrence, told TheWrap: “I do not know how he was hired.”

Miller’s case first gained widespread attention when his executive producers on “Girls,” Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, issued a statement in November 2017 saying they had “insider knowledge of Murray’s situation [that] makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3 percent of assault cases that are misreported every year.”

That led to swift blowback from critics who noted that Dunham had previously said all women who make accusations of misconduct should be believed. They accused her and Konner of a double standard because the accuser is African-American.

Since then, Dunham has repeatedly apologized, saying she had no inside information. Konner has not apologized.