As the college admissions scandal continues to fixate the nation, more questions are being raised about the individuals involved in the scam in which wealthy parents in elite pockets of Los Angeles, Connecticut, and Silicon Valley paid bribes to have their children accepted at top universities.
In Hollywood, the focus is on the two most prominent faces in the scandal: Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, best known for her role as Aunt Becky on the ’80s sitcom Full House, as well as the show’s Netflix reboot, Fuller House.
The most burning question is: Will the actresses be able to work in this town again?
Loughlin’s work has already been interrupted by the scandal, in which she and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of paying $500,000 to get their two daughters accepted to USC as crew team recruits, even though neither of them row. (Olivia Jade Giannulli, who has spent much of her time at USC cutting Instagram brand deals in her dorm, and who was on a USC official’s yacht when the scandal broke, has become one of stranger elements in the–already crazy–drama.)
Loughlin was forced to fly back to L.A. for her court hearing on Wednesday from the set of the Hallmark Channel series When Calls the Heart in Vancouver. Loughlin has played coal mine widow Abigail Stanton for six seasons on the hour-long, period drama set in the Canadian frontier.
The Hallmark Channel has not said anything definitive about Loughlin’s future on the series, but the company stated that it is “aware” of her arrest and is “monitoring developments as they arise.” [Update: The Hallmark Channel announced that it has severed ties with Loughlin.]
Netflix has not made a statement about Fuller House. The show’s last season airs later this year but has not yet gone into production.
As for Huffman, an Oscar nominee who’s married to Shameless star William H. Macy, she’s not currently filming any projects, but she does have a few that are in post-production, including the indie film Tammy’s Always Dying; the TV miniseries When They See Us; and the romantic comedy Otherhood for Netflix. Angela Bassett and Patricia Arquette are also in the film.
Huffman is accused of paying $15,00o to have her daughter monitored by a proctor who helped her cheat on the SAT. As a result, her daughter’s test score jumped up 400 points from her PSAT score. Macy is not being charged, but Huffman has said that he consulted on the scheme.
Hollywood publicists had varying takes on Loughlin and Huffman’s professional futures, with some arguing that if they publicly apologize and make an effort to “be part of the solution,” as Ross Johnson, a crisis communications consultant put it, they may well be able to put this scandal behind them. Others, however, say the public smear is simply too damaging to recover from.
“I think it’s pretty hard to hire them,” says one publicist who did not wish to be named. Part of the problem, this person believes, is that their crimes shed a negative light on Hollywood at a time when West Coast liberals are working to undo the image espoused by President Trump and other Republicans that Hollywood elites are out of touch and entitled.
“These women are just throwing red meat to the Republicans,” this person says. Liberals are “railing about the one-percent and stepping up and talking about women’s issues and (Huffman and Loughlin) are just dripping in privilege and dishonesty. It makes everyone in Hollywood look back. People are pretty horrified at very high levels.”
But Johnson believes there’s a path to redemption. “No one really believes in a life sentence for a nonviolent crime,” he says. “This is a classic white-collar crime. Once they negotiate their plea, they’ve got to be part of the solution. They need to come out and say, ‘I was wrong. There’s no excuse.’ There’s a little bit of an insanity excuse: ‘My values were so off that I did something crazy. Until you’ve been there as a parent, you don’t know what the pressures are like. Especially in the L.A. environment.'”
As for how the actresses could be part of the solution, Johnson says they could set up a scholarship for an underserved student and say, ‘Look, my kid took your spot. I want to give you the opportunity to go to school.'”