Whatever happened to the woman who once declared her family wasn’t interesting enough for prime time TV?
“We’ve been asked to do a reality show a couple times,” Lori Loughlin revealed during an interview on E!’s Daily Pop last year, adding they had turned each one down flat because “we’re not that exciting.”
Even at the time her words carried a sense of misplaced humility. After all, she was a key player on a ’90s sitcom with enough feel good nostalgia to merit a reprisal more than two decades after it went off the air, her husband Mossimo Giannulli a self-starter who turned a high school education (and a $100,000 loan from Dad) into the multi-billion dollar Mossimo clothing brand that enjoyed a healthy run in Target stores. And her daughters Isabella Rose Giannulli, 20, and Olivia Jade Giannulli, 19, appeared to have bright futures ahead of them as an actress and beauty influencer respectively.
So we’re thinking network execs may have been on to something.
Of course, now, any episode of Lori’s Full House (working title) would be must see TV. Everywhere you look, everywhere you go people have been talking about the 54-year-old Hallmark actress since March 12, the day a bombshell FBI affidavit revealed she and Mossimo, 55, were caught up in the aptly named Varsity Blues college admissions scandal. That they had, in fact, allegedly paid some $500,000 in bribes to get both Bella and Olivia into the prestigious University of Southern California, according to the affidavit, by falsely claiming they were crew team recruits.
Where the Fuller House star had once been able to slip around her upscale Bel-Air, Calif. community relatively unnoticed, her every errand (an Apr. 9 trip to a West Hollywood car wash! an Apr. 5 outing with Bella!) has become breaking news.
Not that she or Mossimo need even step foot outside their six-bedroom mansion to make headlines. On Tuesday it was announced the married couple of nearly 22 years—already charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud—were among 16 parents involved in the scandal that had been charged in a second superseding indictment with conspiring to commit fraud and money laundering.
As such, they now face a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison—20 a piece for each charge.
As they await arraignment, the couple have plenty of time to ponder what might come next, having more or less secluded themselves in their tony enclave.
For awhile, as she rattled around the 12,000-square-foot spread they first snapped up for nearly $14 million in 2015, Lori was able to keep the worst of the “what ifs” at bay. Firm in her beliefs that surely she wouldn’t see the inside of a prison cell, a source tells E! News, she neglected to join the 13 parents (including fellow actress Felicity Huffman) and one university athletic coach who agreed to plead guilty to the charges of mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
“She has been in complete denial and thought maybe she could skate by,” the source explains. “She refused to accept any jail time and thought the DA was bluffing. She was adamant she wouldn’t do any jail time.”
But without work to busy herself with—on March 14 Hallmark announced they were severing all ties with Lori, which is, perhaps, for the best considering she was forced to surrender her passport rendering her unable to travel to her series’ Vancouver sets anyway—she’s had more than enough time to stew and second guess her gut reaction.
“Lori is finally realizing just how serious this is,” says the source, noting the former child model is beating herself up for not accepting the initial deal. “She is seeing the light that she will do jail time and is freaking out.”
The past few days have marked a sharp departure from her earlier commitment to maintain a sliver of normalcy.
Though she spent large swaths of her day at home, the self-described “kid from Long Island,” a proud product of middle class roots, made it a point to keep up her regular workouts and social engagements. The difference being that when she exited her go-to yoga studio she had to brace herself for paparazzi and reporters, leaning on her professional experience to help her navigate the few steps from door to car.
“I’m sorry, I can’t talk to you,” she told a cameraman in a March 30 video posted by TMZ. “You can follow me around all day if you want, but I just can’t comment right now. But thank you for your time.”
Even when her day’s agenda contained the truly aberrant—a trip to a Boston federal courthouse Apr. 3 for a six-minute appearance that saw her and Mossimo waive their right to a preliminary hearing and agree to several pretrial conditions—she handled it in much the same way she’s dealt with the countless other public appearances she’s made over the course of her four decade Hollywood career.
The couple traveled across the country via private jet “because Mossimo wanted to,” an insider told E! News. “He is mortified by this whole thing and wants to avoid unwanted attention in public.”
But as they scaled the steps of the courthouse, the oversized gathering of cameras and fans made it clear that slipping under the radar wasn’t so much a possibility. And faced with the decision to lower her head and keep it moving as Huffman had done or acknowledge the intensity of the situation, Lori shifted into celebrity mode, signing autographs for those that had come out to show their support.
“She was obviously extremely nervous and the actress side of Lori came out. She doesn’t know how else to be in public,” the insider explained. “Her natural reaction was to just smile and try to be light-hearted. She’s always been so well loved and charming, that’s the part she knows how to play in public.”
With her entire world rotated on its axis, sticking to the tried-and-true whenever possible was the only thing that felt right. “She’s trying to keep a somewhat regular schedule—going to yoga and Pilates and seeing friends for lunch,” an insider told People. “She is very faith-based, and she knows her faith will get her through this.”
Thus far her relationship with God has proven stronger than some of the friendships she’s formed in L.A., a part of the country she’s called home since landing on Full House, the breakout gig that came after she spent her teen years as one of the youngest cast member on soap opera The Edge of Night.
“Lori and Mossimo are finding out quickly who their real friends are,” a confidante told People. “It’s not like they are the victims of a crime. They are the crime. Many of their friends don’t want to be associated with them right now.”
But count her most Hollywood of pals—her Fuller House costars—among those refusing to reach for a cheap Aunt Becky joke.
Candace Cameron Bure, whose own daughter Natasha Bure, 20, is close in age to Lori’s girls, seemed to speak for the entire clan at the 2019 Kids’ Choice Awards March 23.
“Where there’s a lot of heart, there’s a lot of love—and a loving family sticks together no matter what,” she said standing alongside Jodie Sweetin and Andrea Barber to accept the blimp-shaped trophy for Favorite Funny TV Show. “They stick together through the hard times, they support each other, they encourage one another, they pray for each other, and they stand by their side no matter how tough it gets.”
Questioned further about the situation on Today, Cameron Bure, once again, declined to throw her yoga buddy under the bus, telling Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford, “You know, it’s too personal to us, and you never want to talk about someone that’s such a dear and close friend. But I think, I’ve already said that we are family, and we stand by each other and pray for each other, and we’ll always be there for each other.”
It’s a pact Danny Tanner himself is in on. When TMZ cameras caught up with Bob Saget in late March, he opted not to share his thoughts on the specifics of the case, only telling reporters, “You know, you love who you love in your life,” adding, “Candace said it really good at the Kids’ Choice Awards. You love who you love.”
John Stamos, who followed Saget out the door moments later, also refused to pile on his costar, a woman he once mused could have been the one to get away. “I will [have something to say] at one point,” he said. “I’m just not ready to talk about it.”
An insider tells E! News her daughters are also members of Team Lori, this despite Olivia watching her influencer empire crumble to the ground in a matter of hours. Having initially launched her YouTube channel at the age of 14, she’d built up a presence so robust it appeared a college degree might not be necessary to secure a future as charmed as her childhood.
“She started a YouTube channel around makeup and beauty and now she’s an ambassador for Sephora and she wants to have her own makeup line one day and she’s totally moving in that direction, but she started that channel on her own. She did it all herself,” Lori boasted to Salon last year. “I laugh. She’s a one-woman production company. She hosts the show. She edits the show. She adds the music. She does the graphics. She comes up with the content. She produces the whole thing.”
But as details of the admissions scandal emerged, companies fell out of Olivia’s growing portfolio like dominoes, the teen losing endorsement gigs with TRESemmé and Princess Polly and watching as the makeup palette she had recently released with Sephora was discontinued.
Now, splitting her time between the family home in Bel-Air and singer boyfriend Jackson Guthy‘s pad in Malibu Olivia is finding herself at a loss as to how to rebuild.
“She is very distraught and is in crisis mode,” a source tells E! News. “Olivia is more embarrassed than anything and doesn’t know how to handle all of the stress and scrutiny that has been surrounding her and her family. She feels completely lost. Her and Lori are leaning on each other a lot for full support right now.”
Though the family is clocking a lot of together time, their days bear little resemblance to the sun-soaked weekends they enjoyed when the girls were young.
“It was great when they were little,” Loughlin said during a 2016 BUILD Series panel for her and Bella’s Hallmark holiday film Every Christmas Has A Story. “I loved Sunday afternoons so much…because we’d get up in the morning and we’d stay in our pajamas and they’d just play together by the hour and I would give them lunch and they’d go back and play. It was just so nice, we didn’t do a lot playdates; it was just our little group. It was lovely.”
Now the atmosphere surrounding the family is heavy with worry about what comes next (both girls have decided not to continue their studies at USC, while Lori and Mossimo’s days are consumed with thoughts about the impending trial) along with a heavy dose of marital strife.
“There’s a rift between Lori and Mossimo,” the first source tells E! News. “He is completely mortified by this whole thing and she is putting on a happy face and acting like everything will be OK.”
Unable to see eye-to-eye on how to best deal with the sort of “for worse” situation no one envisions when reciting their wedding vows, “They are blaming each other and disagreeing on things,” continues the source. “They are starting to turn on each other and there is incredible stress and tension.”
For Lori, seeking out the silver lining is a habit that’s been ingrained for decades. Asked by a fan at the BUILD Series how she manages to maintain a positive outlook, she replied, “I think it’s just my attitude in life and I’m going to say it has to do with my parents and how I was raised. My mom and dad were always really positive people and my mom always said, every day, ‘Count your blessings.’ I think I always go back to that. Even when I feel like maybe I’m under a lot of pressure or a lot of stress or the day’s getting my down…I always do stop and think, OK, count my blessings.”
But right now, even with all efforts put forth toward a sunny disposition seeking out those moments of gratitude has been difficult. More or less holed up in seclusion, save for the occasional errand or meeting with an attorney, it’s dawning on Lori how likely it is she’ll be saddled with a prison sentence.
“Their lives will never be the same,” says an insider. “They are scared and they don’t know what’s coming next. It all feels like a terrible nightmare.”
Tune into E! News weeknights at 7pm ET/PT on E!