Dark secrets these ABC stars tried to hide

When it comes to cranking out hit shows, ABC continues to perform year after year, but that doesn't make the Disney-owned network immune to trouble behind-the-scenes. From ugly contract disputes to shady criminal pasts and sad family drama, these stars have dealt with it all. Let's take a look at the darker side of some of the alphabet network's biggest names.

Michael Strahan's infamous exit from Live!

You would think that when Michael Strahan decided to leave Live! With Kelly and Michael, his first call would have been to Kelly Ripa. Sadly, this was not the case. In fact, Ripa was kept so out of the loop, she allegedly found out about Strahan's departure on the same day it was announced to the press, according to TMZ.

Ripa skipped work the next day, then went on a "pre-planned vacation," only to return with a new title as executive producer of Live!. She assured the audience that the network had recommitted to the show, and that a conversation had taken place regarding "communication, and consideration, and most importantly, respect in the workplace." Ahem, wink, nudge.

Later that same day, ABC put out a statement that said Strahan's exit from the show would actually occur four months sooner than previously planned. This was said to be in accordance with "a plan that best advantages both shows for the future" and, of course, had nothing to do with those pesky rumors that the co-hosts literally could not stand each other.  

Outwardly, both Ripa and Strahan lovingly praised one another as they said their good byes. He called her "the queen of morning television," and she said she was "thrilled" for his new opportunity with Good Morning America—but the whole incident has been widely regarded as an all-around debacle that never should have played out like it did.

Laurence Fishburne does't want to talk about his daughter's adult film

Black-ish star Laurence Fishburne has dealt with some turbulent off-camera drama. In 2010, his daughter, Montana Fishburne, became a tabloid fixture after she starred in an adult film. According to TMZ, Laurence's "friends" hired attorney Yale Galanter to approach Vivid, the company that distributed the film, in an attempt to purchase every copy of the film for $1 million dollars. Unfortunately, the DVDs had already shipped. Fishburne was reportedly mortified.

At the time of this writing, Laurence has never spoke publicly about his daughter's foray into XXX films. He once responded, "I haven't heard" to a reporter's question about his daughter having "been in the news." Montana told TMZ that her father told her, "I'm not going to speak with you 'till you turn your life around." 

She has continued to generate negative press, including an alleged altercation with her boyfriend's ex-girlfriend in which Montana was accused of battery, false imprisonment, trespassing, and assault with a deadly weapon. Again, there was no public comment from Laurence, but sources told TMZ that he quietly hired Montana's lawyer and paid the legal fees to fight the case.

Montana avoided jail time by taking a plea deal, went to rehab, and later told TMZ, "Me and my dad are okay, we're talking about things and we're just trying to stay real private right now." Whether that's true or not, don't hold your breath waiting for Laurence to shed any light on it.

Zach Braff supposedly beat up a kid on Punk'd

In 2005, Scrubs co-stars Zach Braff and Donald Faison temporarily loaned their comedic talents to MTV for an episode of Ashton Kutcher's prank show, Punk'd. In the episode, Braff gets conned into believing some youngsters have spray painted his new Porsche. The prank supposedly went sideways when Braff attacked one of the kids in a sequence that ultimately got edited out of the episode.  

The secret beatdown became something of internet lore, with one outlet even quoting Braff as saying, "They choreographed the whole thing and I wasn't supposed to catch the kid, but I caught him… I just started pummeling him…(but) part of the punking was that it was, like, a 12-year-old." During an interview on Brand X, Braff again admitted, "I just punched him a couple times in his stomach, but he was fine." 

Braff didn't specify the kid's age, but HuffPost identified the prankster as a teenager and claimed Braff's swings actually missed the kid and landed on the arms Chris Elwood, a "Punk'd field agent" who was "playing a security guard." According to Elwood, "He basically hit my arm as he was trying to hit this kid. He definitely wanted to stomp the ever-living crap out of this kid." 

This whole debacle perhaps sheds some light on why Faison told Parade, "I love watching pranks, but I hate talking about the one I pulled on Zach. I'm afraid karma will bite me back."

Columbus Short's rapid downward spiral

While Scandal was pulling in sky high ratings in April 2014, series star Columbus Short's life was falling apart. A month before Short was fired from the show, he was arrested for allegedly knocking a man unconscious in a bar fight. According to TMZ, the brawl was the latest in a string of violent incidents, including allegations from Short's wife that he had physically abused her.

After leaving the show, Short fled Los Angeles for Atlanta, where he laid low for a while and generally shirked questions about his turbulent personal life. "My side of the story is that I was involved in a domestic abuse case and it's over now," he told The Insider With Yahoo in October 2014.

Speaking with Access Hollywood in December 2014, Short expanded on his chaotic year, saying that his problems began when he started abusing cocaine and alcohol to cope with the suicide of a friend. He also claimed showrunner Shonda Rhimes knew of his problems and tried to shield him. "They protected me and they held me down," he said. "They just wanted me to get my stuff together, and sometimes, you know, the bottom really has to get dropped out for you to really get it."

Vienna Girardi has an allegedly shady past

Vienna Girardi's time on The Bachelor was the stuff of reality TV producers' dreams. Not only was she a poorly regarded underdog who eventually came out on top, but her off-camera relationship with Jake Pavelka proved to be so tumultuous it kept viewers talking about the show long after the lights dimmed on the final rose ceremony. Some skeptics, like Lily Sparks at TV.com, even believed Girardi and Pavelka "milked their engagement for free invites and photo opportunities," knowing full well that it wasn't going to last.  

Though it would be tough to prove Girardi and Pavelka conned anyone with their romance, her ex-husband, Josh Riley, leveled an allegation against her that definitely makes it seem like that's something she might do. Speaking with Us Weekly, Riley, who is a Marine and an Iraq War veteran, said that Girardi "slept with one of my buddies I was deployed with… I'm 99 percent sure she cheated on me." His mother, who also spoke with the tab, claimed that on top of the alleged infidelity, Girardi "took every bit of [Riley's] money," an alleged $5,000 dollars which she supposedly spent on a boob job. "Marrying her was a mistake," Riley told Us Weekly. Yikes.

Mark Halperin's secret history of sexual harassment

Former ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin saw his career literally vanish before his eyes after five women spoke to CNN about Halperin allegedly harassing and assaulting them. The women chose to remain anonymous, but they all told similar stories, claiming he propositioned them for sex, groped them, and rubbed his genitals on them while they were his colleagues at ABC News.

Days later, even more women came forward, eventually totaling 12 accusers (as of this writing.) In a statement, ABC News said "no complaints were made during [Halperin]'s tenure." Halperin echoed that claim, and although he denied some of the specific allegations made by his accusers, he did release a statement, via Twitter, acknowledging his past behavior: "For a long time at ABC News, I was part of the problem," Halperin wrote, adding, "I acknowledge that, and I deeply regret it. As I said earlier in the week, my behavior was wrong. It caused fear and anxiety for women who were only seeking to do their jobs."

Halperin subsequently lost his job as a contributor for MSNBC and NBC News. He also lost a book deal with Penguin Press, an HBO project connected with a book he'd written, as well as a part in an upcoming Showtime series, according to USA Today.    

Kelly Ripa's rumored rift with Ryan Seacrest

For as rocky as Strahan's exit from Live! was, it almost pales in comparison to the tabloids' account of what happened when his replacement, Ryan Seacrest, came on board. Sources started spilling the tea about Ripa's rumored displeasure with Seacrest after it was announced that he would return as host for the reboot of American Idol. "She doesn't want a repeat of the Michael Strahan situation," a source told Fox News. "She wants to make sure her show is Ryan's first priority, not Idol."

On top of that, rumors flew that Ripa was "butting heads" with Seacrest because he isn't someone less famous who "she could boss around." Seacrest also supposedly attempted to pull a power move by trying to move the show to Los Angeles, where he lives. Ripa allegedly "exploded" over that idea. She even supposedly torpedoed an appearance Seacrest was supposed to make on Good Morning America to promote American Idol. Keep in mind, said appearance would have diverted attention away from her show and put Seacrest in a position to rub elbows with Strahan.

Of course, Ripa and Seacrest have maintained all along that there is no merit to any of the scuttlebutt. An ABC official even told Page Six, "Everything is categorically not true." 

This begs the question: What is it about Ripa that either makes her inner circle willing to anonymously tip off the press about her backstage rage, or worse, blatantly lie to make her look bad?

Robert Carlyle was abandoned by his mother

Once Upon a Time star Robert Carlyle spent a long time avoiding questions about his estranged mother, a tactic he could no longer employ after the Mirror interviewed her in 1995, according to the Independent. "I didn't even know what she looked like, and then these bastards dug her up. Imagine what that does to you. I know it's part of the job these days, but it's a f***in' dirty part," Carlyle reportedly said of the interview.  

Ten years later, he briefly spoke about his mother again while reflecting on his turbulent teenage years. He told The Guardian, "I was an only child. My mother had gone—and it's f***ing boring and I don't want to talk about it—but all of that came to me at that time in my life. The injustice of that, suddenly, when you're a teenager."

More recently, Carlyle seems to have made peace with his childhood abandonment. In a 2015 interview with The Telegraph, he said he "came to the conclusion that some women just aren't maternal, and my mum was one of them." He added, "I'm sure I hated her at one time, but as I've gone through my twenties, thirties, forties and now my fifties, I feel sorry for her more than anything because she missed out on so much. She missed out on me and, especially, she missed out on her grandchildren—and that's punishment enough, isn't it?"

Julianne Hough was abused as a child

In a 2013 Cosmopolitan interview, Julianne Hough revealed that while she and her brother, Derek, studied dance at the Italia Conti Academy of the Arts in London, she suffered mental and physical abuse. 

"I was 10 years old looking like I was 28, being a very sensual dancer," Hough said. "I was a tormented little kid who had to put on this sexy facade because that was my job and my life." As she matured, she said the abuse worsened. Hough claimed she felt trapped in the situation because she was told that if she left she would "amount to nothing," become "a slut," and end up "going to work at Wahtaburger."

It was later revealed that her London caretakers were Corky and Shirley Ballas, parents of fellow Dancing With the Stars dancer Mark Ballas. Sources close to the Ballas family told Star (via Radar Online) that they were "livid with Julianne" over the accusations, suggesting that Hough "interpreted Corky's encouragement as abuse, and wound up leaving England prematurely."  

Hough refused to provide additional details about the allegations, but in a 2014 piece in USA Today, she said, "Let's just put it this way. I'm very grateful for my time in London and with the Ballases and what I've learned and I've had fun times. People tend to only remember negatives because that's what drives them. But at the end of the day you have to see the joy, too." 

Jeff Garlin was involved in a road rage incident

The Goldbergs star Jeff Garlin seems like a jovial guy, but in 2013, he was sued by a woman who claims he went nuts on her in a CVS parking lot in an apparent road rage incident. According to the lawsuit (via The Hollywood Reporter), the woman claims Garlin "refused to move his car so she could park." Garlin then allegedly followed her to another spot and "slammed his fist against the driver's side window so hard that it broke the glass."

Garlin was subsequently arrested and charged with felony vandalism. The charges were later dropped in exchange for Garlin's agreement to "sit for a meeting with the L.A. City Attorney," according to TMZ.  

As of this writing, it's unclear if Garlin paid any kind of settlement, but he did vaguely address the incident in an interview with The New York Times. "Look, I can't talk about it because, even though there are no charges, I still have to meet with somebody from the city," he said. "So I don't want to be glib about something that's serious. But I can tell you that it's just so not sexy. And not what was portrayed. It was horrible being in jail, although I'm gonna have a great routine about it. But the greatest stress, for my family and myself, was that what was being written and talked about truly wasn't true."

Kevin O'Leary has a history of bad business deals

Kevin O'Leary is arguably the biggest star of Shark Tank. He's always seated in the center chair and always willing to take the hardest swipe at a hopeful entrepreneur's questionable pitch. Mr. Wonderful, as he's called, exudes the confidence one would expect from a self-made millionaire, but a failed bid for political office in his native Canada has led to renewed scrutiny of his business history. It turns out O'Leary's track record hasn't been…wonderful.  

According to Canadian Business, several businesses run by O'Leary faced serious issues under his leadership, including a management shakeup at StorageNow Holdings and the abrupt failure of O'Leary Mortgages after just two years of operation.

The biggest asterisk on O'Leary's biz stats comes from the deal in which he actually made his fortune. In 2010, O'Leary shepherded the acquisition of his software firm, The Learning Company, to toy giant Mattel. Within six months, O'Leary was reportedly "pushed out of the company" after Mattel lost between $50 and $100 million on its new TLC division. As a result, Mattel's stock price plummeted, "wiping out billions in shareholder value." The shareholders later filed a class action lawsuit, alleging TLC "used accounting tricks to hide losses and inflate quarterly revenue" ahead of its acquisition by Mattel. The shareholders eventually won a settlement of $122 million dollars, but we have to assume if they could turn back the clock on O'Leary's acquisition pitch, we imagine they would reply with a resounding, "I'm out!"

Jana Kramer was in an abusive relationship

Hoping to encourage other women in similar situations, country star and Dancing With the Stars contestant Jana Kramer opened up to People about the terrifying abuse she allegedly suffered at the hands of her first husband, Michael Gambino. 

Kramer claimed Gambino repeatedly abused her physically and emotionally, even threatening to leave her dogs "on the freeway" if she walked out on him. One night, Gambino allegedly "choked her into unconsciousness and left her bleeding on the gravel outside their L.A. home," the magazine reported. Gambino was convicted of attempted murder and served five years in prison. Two years after his release, he committed suicide.

Unfortunately, that was not the final chapter in Kramer's dark history with men. Four years after Gambino's death, she married former NFL tight end Matt Caussin in May 2015. Less than a year later, their daughter, Jolie, was born. According to Us Weekly, everything seemed wonderful until Kramer discovered that Caussin was reportedly cheating on her "with multiple women." As of this writing, Caussin has apologized and completed rehab for sex addiction. The couple says it is "taking it day-by-day."

Viola Davis dug through garbage in search of food

Oscar-winner and How to Get Away With Murder star Viola Davis brings an unparalleled level of gravitas to every one of her roles. She also applies that passion to working with Hunger Is, the charitable organization that seeks to "eradicate childhood hunger in America," a hardship with which Davis is all too familiar.

In 2014, Davis was recognized during Variety's Power of Women event for her work with the organization. During her remarks (via The Washington Post), she spoke of her family impoverished existence, including times when her only meal was school lunch. "I have jumped in huge garbage bins with maggots for food. I have befriended people in the neighborhood who I knew had mothers who cooked three meals a day for food, and I sacrificed a childhood for food and grew up in immense shame," she tearfully confessed.

Food scarcity wasn't the only issue Davis dealt with growing up. In 2016, she told The New Yorker that her childhood homes were squalid, "dilapidated" structures; that she was the victim of constant racist bullying; and that her father was an abusive alcoholic. "There was no peace in my household," Davis said.

Though she's clearly opened up about her painful past, it wasn't easy for her to do so. "Our whole lives were about hiding, not sharing the secret," she said, adding, "Because you're afraid of being judged. You're afraid of the shame. I just wanted to get out, to be somebody. I was always so hungry and ashamed. I couldn't get at the business of being me."