Mere months after the explosive college admissions scandal that saw at least 51 people arrested on charges that range from mail fraud to money laundering, Lifetime has announced the cast for its depiction of the events, aptly titled College Admissions Scandal. Among those cast is Toronto actress Mia Kirshner.
Kirshner first made a splash with her impressive performance in Atom Egoyan’s critically acclaimed Exotica. While she never quite managed to earn the same amount of recognition for a performance Kirshner has enjoyed a fruitful career, with a significant supporting role in the 2001 hit comedy Not Another Teen Movie and a regular leading role as Jenny Schecter in popular TV show The L Word from 2004-2009. The latter role earned Kirshner further acclaim, despite Jenny being arguably the show’s most hated character during its impressive run, which in itself could be viewed as a testament to her work.
Kirshner’s latest roles will see her playing Bethany, the head of a financial services firm, and alongside her will be Riverdale star Penelope Ann Miller, who will be playing interior designer Caroline. Both women will become embroiled in the college admissions scandal that dominated the news cycle in March, and although they are fictional creations, their characters will be based on two of the most high profile figures involved in the scandal, actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.
Kirshner and, in particular, Miller bear striking resemblances to Loughlin and Huffman respectively, so the parallels are already there, but it will be interesting to see just how the characters will mirror their real-life counterparts, particularly Huffman’s embrace of her wrongdoing and Loughlin’s refusal to acknowledge her crimes in the face of serious charges.
One character whose name will not be changed is the scheme’s orchestrator, William Rick Singer, who will be played by Vancouver native Michael Shanks, best known for his role as Dr. Daniel Jackson in the cult classic TV show Stargate SG-1.
Singer is undoubtedly the most culpable of anyone involved in the scandal, arranging numerous frauds that included having others sit in on SAT exams for the children of the wealthy parents – who sometimes paid him in the hundreds of thousands of dollars – and falsifying athletic scholarships for these children by bribing college officials. Singer was eventually found out by the FBI, whose investigation was called Operation Varsity Blues…yes, really. Singer then turned witness, aiding the FBI in their investigation that saw numerous individuals being charged, Loughlin and Huffman included.
Of course, this will be the first of many depictions of the scandal, including the usual obligatory documentary that will surely be produced once the case is settled in its entirety. The rapid manner in which productions on the scandal are being produced speaks not only to its impact, but also its size, given that it is the largest case of its kind to ever be prosecuted by the US Justice Department.