EXCLUSIVE: Moneyball producer Rachael Horovitz and Jennifer Wachtell are partnering with Vanity Fair contributing editor Evgenia Peretz on a TV adaptation of Peretz’s deep dive into the Hollywood college admissions scandal, To Cheat And Lie In LA. Peretz, whose screenwriting credits include Juliet, Naked and Our Idiot Brother, is adapting from her article that was posted online this morning and will be published in the September issue of the magazine, and the producers are in talks with showrunners and directors before going out to studios.
Peretz’s investigation into the scandalous story broadens from the celebrity focus in the bribery and cheating scandal and focuses on a quixotic group of privileged LA families — the non celebrities — caught in the now infamous criminal web. Peretz has previously covered private school culture in her articles on Georgetown Prep, Marlborough, and Miss Porter’s school. The article leans into the socially complex dynamics between families as well as their relationships with the private high schools their children attend. Peretz exposes the inner workings of the schools and communities that enabled privileged parents to believe they were acting in their children’s best interests by breaking the law.
There are others working on telling this story for the small screen. Annapurna Television in May optioned rights to Accepted, an upcoming book by Melissa Korn and Jen Levitz, for a limited series with DV Devincentis writing.
The criminal conspiracy certainly caught the country by storm, partly because of the brazen nature exhibited by entitled parents willing to pay high prices to cheat their kids into elite schools including USC and UCLA. Such prominent industry figures as Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman were indicted as part of the bribery scheme. Huffman pleaded guilty to her role in the scandal and wrote an open letter of apology and contrition; Loughlin and her fashion designer husband pleaded not guilty, and the former When Calls the Heart star also is facing a money-laundering charge.
On March 12, the FBI unsealed a wide-ranging indictment in the scheme involving wealthy parents allegedly buying their children’s way into elite universities. The feds said a group of 33 parents combined to pay millions in bribes to coaches at such top schools as Yale, Georgetown, Stanford and USC so their children could gain admission as recruited athletes – even if they weren’t actually athletes. Also among those charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud is Bill McGlashan, the founder and managing partner of TPG Growth, who since has left the board of STX Entertainment and resigned from TPG.
Horovitz is coming off the Showtime/Sky series Patrick Melrose, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch and won the BAFTA for best limited series, with another BAFTA Award for Cumberbatch. The series is nominated for five Emmy Awards. She also won the Golden Globe, Emmy and PGA Awards for HBO’s Grey Gardens and is currently in production with Blumhouse on a non-fiction tv series based on Errol Morris A Wilderness of Errors.
Wachtell most recently produced the Victoria Gotti Story for Lifetime and prior to that ran Alan Ball’s company where she oversaw The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks starring Oprah Winfrey and Here and Now, both for HBO.
Peretz is represented by Ken Freimann at Circle of Confusion.