Hallmark Channel cuts ties with Lori Loughlin amid college admissions bribery scandal
On Tuesday, news broke about an FBI investigation code-named 'Operation Varsity Blues.' More than 40 people were caught red-handed cheating to get the children of wealthy parents into prestigious colleges, like Yale, Stanford and USC. The accused parents, who paid $25 million total in bribes, include business executives, real estate tycoons and two TV stars, who quickly became the face of the scandal.
Actress Felicity Huffman, who starred in the dramedy Desperate Housewives, was among those who paid proctors to inflate students' standardized test scores - either by doctoring the results or enlisting a third party to take the exam in the applicant's place. Reportedly, Huffman paid to boost the score of her oldest daughter. Her husband, actor William H. Macy, was referred to as "spouse" in the affidavit but not formally charged.
Meanwhile, actress Lori Loughlin, who famously played Aunt Becky in the saccharine sitcom Full House, was among those who bribed college officials to accept students as star athletes - even if they never played the sport.
Reportedly, Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, spent $500,000 in bribes to get their two daughters recruited as star athletes to the USC rowing team, despite not being part of a crew team. According to the affidavit, they sent a staged photo of their daughters on a rowing machine to William Rick Singer, the scheme's accused ringleader.
Both Huffman and Loughlin were arrested and face a single count of mail fraud.
On social media, the college admissions scam sparked a furious backlash, and a lot of funny memes referencing Full House. ("You're in big trouble, mister!") Lori Loughlin's youngest daughter, 19-year-old beauty vlogger Olivia Jade Giannulli was singled out with particular scorn. When the scandal broke, Giannulli was reportedly on a billionaire USC trustee's yacht, enjoying a vacation in the Bahamas. (Must be nice!) What's more, in a YouTube video posted just before starting at USC, she said she was looking forward to game days and partying, but " I don't really care about school."
As of this writing, it is not known whether Giannulli - or any other specific students - were aware of the bribery scheme. But it is clear that they stole deserving student's spots. "For every student admitted through fraud an honest, genuinely talented student was rejected," stated US Attorney Andrew Lelling.
Following the uproar, makeup giant Sephora cancelled its partnership with Giannulli, and now her mother is suffering a career blow: The Hallmark Channel announced that it has cut ties with Lori Loughlin, who starred in the television film Meet My Mom, the television drama When Calls the Heart, and the telefilm series Garage Sale Mysteries.
“We are saddened by the recent news surrounding the college admissions allegations. We are no longer working with Lori Loughlin and have stopped development of all productions that air on the Crown Media Family Network channels involving Lori Loughlin including ‘Garage Sale Mysteries,’ an independent third party production," stated a Hallmark parent company representative.
The question is, who will play Loughlin in the made-for-TV movie based on this scandal?