If you were a prominent, Academy Award-winning celebrity who wanted to do something really scandalous, you couldn't have picked a better week.
While the press has been frothing over Mark Sanford's indiscretions, Sarah Palin's career meltdown and Michael Jackson's continued demise, "Shawshank Redemption" septuagenarian Morgan Freeman has apparently skipped out on his wife and mistress to hook up with 27-year-old E'Dena Hines. Funny story how they met: She's his step-granddaughter.
The story of the unorthodox relationship first broke late last month via the National Enquirer and has been slowly seeping into more mainstream outlets ever since. Yesterday, however, the story took another turn when reports emerged that the duo are planning to get hitched once the actor's divorce from wife Myrna Colley-Lee is final.
While what goes on between two consenting adults of legal and Social Security-collecting age is, in theory, a private matter, it's nevertheless tough to summon up a mazel tov for a prospective groom who, in 2001, donated $250,000 to his "granddaughter's" high school for her graduation. Hines, the granddaughter of Freeman's first wife, Jeanette Adair Bradshaw, has been part of Freeman's family since childhood. According to the original Enquirer story, Hines and Freeman have been having an affair for nearly a decade.* (The story doesn't specify when the relationship started but quotes a source claiming it "began when she was a teen.") Though Freeman is currently maintaining a "no comment" policy, he's been squiring Hines around in public for over a year.
The story, with its unsettling echoes of the Woody Allen/Soon-Yi Previn affair, likely won't make much of a ripple in the actor's still-robust career. Yet reading the Freeman news on the heels of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee's eager reminder to the world that a man who admitted he slept in the same bed with children was "innocent until proven otherwise" and 16-year-old Miley Cyrus' Elle magazine seductive,"hooker boots" spread, it's hard not to feel a weary wave of sadness. The line between being an innocent child and a knowing, sexual adult is a blurry and highly individual one. But it's a good rule of thumb that it shouldn't be crossed with the guy you call grandpa.
*An earlier version of the post mistakenly stated that the affair had been going on for "more than a decade." We apologize for the error.