This is the story that can knock most other stories out of the way on cable news channels looking to fill hourly airtime for days. Unlike the President’s budget stories or bickering over the deficit, the Operation Varsity Blues story brought to us by the FBI includes wealthy elites and Hollywood actresses, too. Not to mention the fall-out the kids involved will have to live with the rest of their lives.
The L.A. Times published a piece on Felicity Huffman’s involvement and arrest. The author was absolutely beside herself. Not Felicity Huffman! Huffman’s is a finely crafted every-working mom kind of image for many female fans. Her monetary involvement in this corrupt pay-for-play college admissions con game seems small compared to say, fellow actress Lori Loughlin. Huffman allegedly shelled out $15,000 for someone to be a proctor either providing correct answers to admission tests or to take the test for her child. She was arrested at home at gunpoint and later released on $250,000 bond. Her husband, actor Willam H. Macy is not a part of this mess. Huffman turned over her passport.
The Edge College & Career Network went above and beyond the tutoring and multiple practice-test-taking typical of most private prep classes. According to federal prosecutors, owner William “Rick” Singer oversaw a full buffet of collegiate chicanery. In some cases, school officials were bribed to mark certain students as super-athletes, often in sports the student didn’t even play. In others, students’ SAT or ACT test results were rigged, with proctors who provided the correct answers or simply impostors who took the test in the student’s place.
On the other hand, television actress Lori Loughlin and her wealthy fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli paid $500,000 for their two daughters to be admitted to college. I can only imagine that her husband’s customers at Target, where he has a reasonably priced fashion line for sale to the middle-class masses, had the same reaction I had to this story. It’s insane. Also, the only shocking part is that a couple of well-known actresses got caught up in the headlines. Loughlin’s husband was freed on a $1M bond as Lori Loughlin flew back to California from Canada where she was filming to turn herself in. She, too, was released on a $1M bond. Both relinquished their passports.
A tennis coach at the University of Texas has already lost his job. Coach Michael Center was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud. He was freed on a $50,000 bond.
“After working with campus leaders to review the recent situation with Michael Center, we have decided to relieve him of his duties as our men’s tennis coach,” said Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte.
According to court documents, a witness told investigators that in 2015 Center agreed to accept approximately $100,000 from the witness as a bribe, in exchange for Center to designate a student as a UT tennis team recruit, thereby facilitating his admission to UT.
One of Loughlin’s daughters, Olivia Jade, is a social media star in her own right. She and her mother appear in an ad for tech company HP and now that relationship is over.
Olivia Jade, currently a USC freshman, appeared with Loughlin in a 2017 advertisement for one of HP’s photo-products. In a statement to Variety, the manufacturer noted it was “a one-time product campaign,” and that it was removing the ad. As of Wednesday, it was still live on Olivia Jade’s Instagram account, which has 1.3 million followers.
Are the careers of Huffman and Loughlin over now? Probably. I would wager to say that Loughlin’s is definitely over now. At least in the current roles, she plays. Loughlin is working for the Hallmark Channel, which is a squeaky clean, family-friendly channel. I watch the channel for the romantic comedy movies and the network’s second channel that airs mystery-themed movies. Women like me tune in for distraction from everyday news and political stories. Loughlin is also in the Netflix reboot of Full House, now called Fuller House. The fifth and final season of that show is set to film soon. I think that both Hallmark and Netflix will be far too concerned with the potential financial loss of advertisers to risk continuing on working with Loughlin.
Huffman has also been in the entertainment business for a long time. I first remember watching her as a cast member in Sports Night, Frasier, and Desperate Housewives on television. She’s also appeared on Broadway and in movies. She may be able to eventually return to work if the public forgives her. I seriously doubt she’ll serve any jail time so she’ll just have to wait it out.
Frankly, I don’t even think Loughlin or her husband will serve jail time, either. Unless maybe they are to be made examples of and that would be legit. An interesting tidbit did appear on TMZ’s website Wednesday evening. Guess where Miss Olivia Jade was when her mom was outed in this scandal? She’s on spring break with her friends in the Bahamas on a yacht owned by the Chairman of USC’s Board of Trustees, Rick Caruso. No, really. She’s friends with his daughter. Olivia Jade wisely decided to leave the yacht and go home when the news of her mother and father’s troubles went public. Awkward.
Caruso, a billionaire who has major real estate holdings including The Grove in L.A., tells TMZ, “My daughter and a group of students left for spring break prior to the government’s announcement yesterday. Once we became aware of the investigation, the young woman decided it would be in her best interests to return home.” Olivia is off the yacht.
Caruso was elected Chairman of USC’s Board of Trustees last year. We’re told the Board will NOT decide the fate of Olivia and other students involved in the case. That decision is left squarely in the hands of the University’s President.
By the way, Caruso came out strong Tuesday in the wake of the indictments, saying, “The charges filed today against employees of USC are disturbing and the alleged activity is absolutely wrong. I am saddened that these people would abuse their positions of trust and, as the government has alleged, victimize USC in the process. There is no option other than zero tolerance for this type of behavior. As a result, USC has fired the alleged wrongdoers.”
Both actresses are set to appear in court later this month in Boston. They’ll have to be prepared to use all the acting skills they’ve acquired over the years to perform for the judge. We’re all just waiting for more shoes to drop. There will be lots of other stories to tell.