It's a screenplay that writes itself: wealthy parents, including celebrities, pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for their children to attend some of the most prestigious colleges in the US. And then they get caught. Except in this case, Operation Varsity Blues, as federal investigators called the wide-reaching scheme, was real.
In March 2019, the month when many prospective college students were anxiously waiting to hear whether they had been accepted to the school of their choice, 50 people including parents, celebrities (actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman among them), athletic coaches, university officials, test administrators, and others were charged in the largest college admissions bribery scandal ever in the US. Parents were charged by federal authorities with paying a man named William "Rick" Singer from $200,000 to $6.5 million to secure their children’s admission to higher institutions including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, the University of Southern California, the University of Texas, and the University of California, Los Angeles. He did so in part by funneling payments through his charitable foundation. Singer, a college admissions consultant, either helped the students cheat on the SATs or ACTs, or bribed college coaches or officials to advocate for the students as gifted athletes. Most of them had never played, and didn't play once they reached college, the sport for which they were recruited. Singer became an FBI informant and agreed to plead guilty to federal charges. The parents and others indicted in the case have entered varying pleas.
Annapurna Television plans to make a limited series based on a book about the scandal being written by two Wall Street Journal reporters. So who will play all the players in this tale of alleged college admissions crime? These hypothetical casting choices focus on some of the key people involved.
Lori Loughlin is an actress best known for starring as Aunt Becky on the ABC sitcom Full House and the Netflix sequel Fuller House.
In April 2019 she and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, pleaded not guilty to paying $500,000 for their two daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose, to get into the University of Southern California as recruits on the school's crew team.
Mossimo Giannulli is a fashion designer who created the clothing company Mossimo.
In April 2019 he and his wife, actress Lori Loughlin, pleaded not guilty to paying $500,000 for their two daughters to get into the University of Southern California as recruits on the school's crew team.
Felicity Huffman is an actress known for her Emmy-winning role on the ABC series Desperate Housewives and her Oscar-nominated role in Transamerica, and for starring in the series American Crime.
In April 2019 she pleaded guilty to paying $15,000 for SAT administrators to boost her daughter's score. Huffman's husband, actor William H. Macy, was not charged.
Igor Dvorskiy is the director of West Hollywood College Preparatory School, which served as a test administration site for the SAT and ACT. Dvorskiy was charged with accepting payment from William "Rick" Singer to help students, including the daughter of actress Felicity Huffman, cheat on the college entrance exams.