Some viewers were surprised when Lifetime’s made-for-TV movie about the real-life college admissions scandal that aired Saturday didn’t include a single reference to the real-life celebrities involved in it: Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.
Speaking to Los Angeles magazine, director Adam Salky explained that the film purposely avoided depicting any of the real-life families involved with the scam. However, the man allegedly behind it, William “Rick” Singer, was apparently fair game.
“The film is not about any of the real families,” Salky told the outlet. “We looked at all the families involved and we kind of said to ourselves, ‘What kind of people were part of this? There were people connected to Rick, people who want the kids to go to those kinds of schools, people who had a certain socioeconomic level,’ and we really actually tried to avoid any similarities to anyone specific with regards to the families. But Rick Singer is a real character in our film.”
According to Us Weekly, the movie, titled “The College Admissions Scandal,” follows fictional interior designer Caroline and single mother Bethany as they deal with the fallout from paying the real-life scam mastermind to help get their kids admitted to the college of their choice.
Singer, who was arrested in March after being paid by several wealthy parents to facilitate their kids’ admission into elite schools, was one of the only real-life people dramatized for the film. Huffman and Loughlin, the two most high-profile parents swept up in the scandal, aren’t featured. However, their stories are alluded to throughout the film.
Huffman pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud earlier this year. She confessed to paying an admissions consultant $15,000 to have a proctor correct her older daughter's answers on the SAT. She considered the same for her younger daughter but decided against it.
In addition to having to self-report to prison on Oct. 25, she also received one year of probation, was ordered to perform 250 hours of community service and pay a $30,000 fine.
Meanwhile, Loughlin, 55, and her husband were accused of paying $500,000 to Singer to get their daughters Olivia Jade and Isabella recruited onto the University of Southern California's crew team despite neither girl ever being a rower. USC put the girls' enrollment statuses on hold amid an internal investigation into the scandal.
The pair rejected the plea deal that other parents allegedly involved in the case – including Huffman – accepted. Giannulli, 56, and Loughlin then were hit with additional charges of money laundering and conspiracy and could face up to 40 years behind bars if convicted on all charges.
Fox News' Jessica Sager contributed to this report.