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The college admissions bribery scandal is getting the (perhaps inevitable) TV treatment.
Annapurna Television is the first to plant its flag on the juicy story. The company has optioned rights to Accepted, a forthcoming book about the scandal from Wall Street Journal reporters Melissa Korn and Jennifer Levitz. Emmy winner D.V. DeVincentis (The People v. O.J. Simpson, High Fidelity) will adapt the book as a limited series. No outlet is attached yet.
The book, to be published by Portfolio, a division of Penguin Random House, details the admissions scandal in which 50 people — including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin; Loughlin’s husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli; and film financier Bill McGlashan — were indicted in a scheme to influence the admissions of their children into a number of prominent universities. Several college officials and athletic coaches were also indicted.
The case, dubbed Operation Varsity Blues by federal investigators, involved parents rigging entrance exams and paying bribes to school officials to have their children admitted as student-athletes (even if the kids didn’t play sports). The alleged ringleader, William “Rick” Singer, ran a college admissions business and arranged the transactions. Singer, who promised a “side door” to parents for getting their kids into the schools they wanted, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the investigation.
Huffman has said she intends to plead guilty to paying $15,000 to have someone else take the SAT for her oldest daughter and disguising the payment as a charitable contribution. Loughlin and Giannulli, who allegedly paid as much as $500,000 in bribes to help their daughters get into the University of Southern California, have pleaded not guilty; they were charged with a separate count of money laundering conspiracy (along with 14 other parents) after the initial filing.
Following the indictments, Loughlin lost roles on Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart and Garage Sale Mystery movie series and will not return for the final season of Netflix’s Fuller House. A Netflix film starring Huffman had its release date pushed from April to August, while When They See Us, a limited series from Ava DuVernay that features Huffman, will keep its late May date.
Sue Naegle, Ali Krug and Patrick Chu will produce the college admissions bribery scandal project on behalf of Annapurna Television.
Korn and Levitz are repped by Eric Lupfer of Fletcher & Company and Linda Lichter of LGNAF. DeVincentis is repped by UTA and Barnes Morris.
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