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College admissions scandal mastermind Rick Singer’s wire-tap conversations feature in Netflix doc


Netflix released a new trailer for its upcoming documentary ‘Operation Varsity Blues’, which profiles the story of Rick Singer, the mastermind behind the 2019 college admissions scandal that sent actresses Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman and several other prominent parents to prison.

Named after the FBI probe that exposed the scandal, the film will focus not on the convicted celebrities like Huffman and Loughlin, but on how Singer persuaded them and many other wealthy clients to cheat their children into the country’s most esteemed colleges.

The film, which is due to premier on March 17, uses ‘an innovative combination of interviews and narrative recreations of the FBI’s wiretapped conversations between Singer and his clients,’ Netflix previously said.

In a new trailer released Monday, the streaming giant offered a glimpse of some of those real interactions between Singer and the parents – recordings of which that would later go on to indict more than 50 people on federal charges.

‘We help the wealthiest families in the US get their kids into school,’ actor Matthew Modine, who plays Singer, is heard bragging in the clip. ‘So I’ve done 761 of what I would call side-doors. The front door means getting in on your own. So I’ve created this sort of side door in, because my families want a guarantee.’

The fictional Singer later adds: ‘I’m gonna’ do 730 of these side doors this year.’ The real Singer faces up to 65 years in prison; he has not been sentenced.

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William 'Rick' Singer leaves the federal courthouse after facing charges in a nationwide college admissions cheating scheme in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., March 12, 2019

Netflix released a new trailer (left) for its upcoming documentary which seeks to tell the story of Rick Singer (seen right), the mastermind behind the 2019 college admissions scandal that sent actors Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman and several other prominent parents to prison

'We help the wealthiest families in the US get their kids into school,' actor Matthew Modine who plays Singer is heard bragging in the clip

‘We help the wealthiest families in the US get their kids into school,’ actor Matthew Modine who plays Singer is heard bragging in the clip

The trailer also features an interaction between Singer and a parent, who is heard asking, ‘Is there any risk that this thing blows up in my face?’ if it’s discovered the ‘polo team is selling seats into the school for $250,000’.

‘Well no, because she’s a water polo player.’ Singer responds, before his client, sounding more skeptical, replies, ‘But she’s not.’ 

Interviews with real investigators and prosecutors also recount the blatancy of the scheme, which typically saw students pretending to be athletes in sports they had never played.

‘There aren’t many federal cases where you’d have 50 people indicted for a crime. It truly is amazing what people will say on the phone when they don’t know the feds are listening,’ one featuree, who wasn’t identified, says in the trailer.

Another adds: ‘It seem like [the scandal] would be hard to miss. There was a five-foot-five basketball player, [and] a cheerleader who was made to look like a lacrosse player.’

The documentary is from Chris Smith and Jon Karmen, the filmmakers behind Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened. 

Smith also executive produced Netflix’s wildly popular docuseries Tiger King, which was released at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic last spring.

Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli (both seen left) went to jail as part of the scheme after admitting to paying Singer $500,000 to get their daghters into USC as rowers.

Fellow actress Felicity Huffman (above with husband William H. Macy) was charged for paying $15,000 for someone to resit her daughter's entrance exam

Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli (both seen left) went to jail as part of the scheme after admitting to paying Singer $500,000 to get their daughters into USC as rowers. Fellow actress Felicity Huffman (right) was charged for paying $15,000 for someone to resit her daughter’s entrance exam

Olivia Jade is shown in one of the bogus photos

Isabella is depicted in another

Loughlin and Giannulli took bogus pictures of their daughters Olivia Jade and Isabella (left to right) to back aid their fraudulent efforts

The trailer also leans heavily into some dramatic irony, with one parent heard asking Singer, 'Is there any risk that this thing blows up in my face?'

The trailer also leans heavily into some dramatic irony, with one parent heard asking Singer, ‘Is there any risk that this thing blows up in my face?’

More than 50 people were charged in the scandal that saw parents pay bribes to have someone cheat on their children’s entrance exams or pretend their kids were star athletes for sports they didn’t play

More than 50 people were charged in the scandal that saw parents pay bribes to have someone cheat on their children’s entrance exams or pretend their kids were star athletes for sports they didn’t play

The film, which is due to premier on March 17, uses 'an innovative combination of interviews and narrative recreations of the FBI’s wiretapped conversations between Singer and his clients,' Netflix previously said

The film, which is due to premier on March 17, uses ‘an innovative combination of interviews and narrative recreations of the FBI’s wiretapped conversations between Singer and his clients,’ Netflix previously said

More than 50 people were charged in the scandal that saw parents pay bribes of up to $6 million to get their children into top universities like Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and USC in what authorities described as the ‘largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice.’  

Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were among those arrested as part of the 2019 federal investigation.

Huffman and her spouse — ‘Shameless’ star William H. Macy, who was not charged — made a charitable donation of $15,000 to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme, on behalf of their eldest daughter. 

Huffman had initially planned to do the same thing for her youngest daughter, before later backing out, investigators said.

Loughlin, who was charged alongside her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli, meanwhile agreed to pay Singer $500,000 to pass Olivia Jade and Isabella off as rowing stars to USC officials when neither had ever been involved in the sport.

The couple were arrested in March 2019, along with Huffman and the dozens of other parents involved, which included top businessmen and prominent lawyers. 

More than 50 people were charged in the scandal after Singer flipped and recorded conversations with parents for the FBI

More than 50 people were charged in the scandal after Singer flipped and recorded conversations with parents for the FBI

Singer, who has also pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, began cooperating with investigators in September 2018

Singer, who has also pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, began cooperating with investigators in September 2018

Singer, who has also pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, began cooperating with investigators in September 2018 and secretly recorded his phone calls with parents to build the case against them.

Loughlin and Giannulli initially pleaded not guilty, claiming they believed they were making a legitimate contribution to USC with their $500,000 payment to Singer.

Facing up to 40 years behind bars each, they later reversed course and struck a plea deal with prosecutors.

Loughlin was released from federal lockup at CI Dublin in California on December 28, where she served the entirety of her two month prison sentence, as stated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The Full House star reportedly had a ‘tearful’ reunion with her daughters Olivia Jade, 21, and Bella Rose, 22, when she finally returned to their Malibu mansion. 

Loughlin was released from federal lockup at CI Dublin in California on December 28, where she served the entirety of her two month prison sentence. Giannulli is still behind bars and is due to be release in April

Loughlin was released from federal lockup at CI Dublin in California on December 28, where she served the entirety of her two month prison sentence. Giannulli is still behind bars and is due to be release in April

The couple initially protested their innocence when they were charged, claiming they believed they were making a legitimate contribution to USC with their $500,000 payment to Singer (Loughlin is above with daughters Olivia Jade, left, and Isabella Rose, right)

The couple initially protested their innocence when they were charged, claiming they believed they were making a legitimate contribution to USC with their $500,000 payment to Singer (Loughlin is above with daughters Olivia Jade, left, and Isabella Rose, right)

Giannulli, however, is still serving his five-month sentence at a prison in Lompoc near Santa Barbara, California for his role in the college admissions bribery scheme.

He is scheduled to be released on April 17. Prosecutors said Giannulli deserved a tougher sentence because he was ‘the more active participant in the scheme.’

Huffman, who admitted her guilt from the start, served nearly two weeks in prison last year.

Of the nearly 60 parents, coaches and others charged in the case, about a dozen are still fighting the allegations. The sentences for the parents who have pleaded so far in the case range from a couple weeks to nine months.

Singer is expected to testify at the remaining defendants’ trials. He has not been sentenced.



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