The Ivy Coach Daily
June 29, 2021
Documentary on T.M. Landry Scandal
Whenever a salacious news story breaks, you can bet there are executives and producers in Hollywood who are seeking to either acquire life rights or acquire the rights of the material covering the story. But every once in a blue moon, a juicy story just happens to slip by. As but one example, the major headline in the story of the McDonalds’ Monopoly promotion scheme hit papers on September 10, 2001. The next day, 9/11 would wipe it from memory. Only years later would an article based on the story lead to a major Hollywood bidding war over the movie rights. Similarly, the T.M Landry College Preparatory School scandal — in which school leaders doctored applications and fabricated transcripts to help their students earn admission to Ivy League and other highly selective universities (their acceptances were shared with the world through viral videos) — was, in some ways, wiped from our memory banks, overshadowed by a bigger college admissions scandal that would break soon after: the Varsity Blues scandal.
But guess what? It’s baaaack! A documentary by Dan Chen entitled Accepted is premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival and it chronicles the stories of some of the young people who attended T.M. Landry. As Lovia Gyarkye writes in her review of the film in The Hollywood Reporter, “Chen captures his subjects with poignant sensitivity. Accepted is not just a documentary about high-achieving kids trying to beat the odds; it’s also a considered and affecting coming-of-age story. During the individual interviews, the camera lingers on the students’ tired and disappointed faces. There is sadness there, too: Withdrawing from T.M. Landry wasn’t just about walking away from a guaranteed future — it also meant leaving a chosen family and embarking on a journey where these students began to question what they knew to be true about the world. The resulting isolation seemed like the hardest cross to bear…But judgement has no place here, and before you can satisfyingly vilify the Landrys, Chen turns his attention to the complicity of the U.S. education system at large.”
The documentary also features the story of the Varsity Blues scandal in the third act since no movie on a college admissions scandal would ever be complete without at least some reference to the most infamous college admissions scandal of all. The juxtaposition of the scandal with low-income, underrepresented minority students at the center with a scandal involving privileged, mostly white students at its center is also notable as the director essentially asks the audience to compare and contrast.
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