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‘Operation Varsity Blues’ hits college admissions scandal on Netflix

Get ready for “privilege gone wild.”

Netflix dropped a trailer for a documentary that focuses on the methods used by Rick Singer — the ringleader of the scam to get rich people’s kids into college, who along with more than 50 others were arrested in March 2019.

Called “Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal” and set for a March 17 release, the 100-minute doc uses interviews and re-creations of FBI-wiretapped conversations to show a glimpse of Singer’s shady operation.

“We help the wealthiest families in the US get their kids into school,” says Singer in the film, played by actor Matthew Modine, in the first minute of the preview. He adds that he’s done more than 700 “side doors” for admission, as opposed to “the front door,” which means a student gains admission into college on their own merit. “Because my families want a guarantee.”

Singer’s “families” included those of celebrities. One couple was “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion-designer husband Mossimo Giannulli, who pleaded guilty to paying $500,000 to get their daughters — Olivia Jade and Isabella — accepted into the University of Southern California as crew recruits, despite the fact that neither are rowers. Loughlin served two months in federal prison and was released in December, while Giannulli is serving a five-month sentence.

Meanwhile, actress Felicity Huffman — who pleaded guilty in 2019 for paying Singer $15,000 to inflate one of her daughters’ college-admissions test scores in 2017 — served 11 days of a two-week federal prison sentence.

Rick Singer
Courtesy of NETFLIX

Singer himself pleaded guilty in 2019 to charges including racketeering, money laundering and fraud — and even helped the FBI in its investigation, called Operation Varsity Blues. More than 30 rich parents were discovered to have paid substantial bribes to get their children into elite schools, including Yale and Stanford.

The trailer goes on to detail other instances of false claims for admission: a 5-foot-5 kid whom Singer claimed to be a basketball player, and a cheerleader who was made to look like a lacrosse player. Clips include re-creations of FBI arrests, as well as news clips from Loughlin and Huffman entering and leaving court.

Chris Smith, the director of 2019’s buzzy “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened,” directed the film.

“It’s the home run of home runs,” says Modine as Singer, re-enacting dialog from a tapped phone call. “And it works?” asks the person on the other line.

“Every time,” Singer says.

Matthew Modine plays college admissions scam leader Rick Singer in a forthcoming Netflix documentary.
Matthew Modine plays college-admissions-scam leader Rick Singer in a forthcoming Netflix documentary.
Courtesy of NETFLIX


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