Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal

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Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal
Directed byTom McLoughlin
Produced byBob Wilson
Written byTeena Booth
StarringJenna Dewan
Ashley Benson
Aimee Spring Fortier
Stephanie Honoré
Jessica Heap
Ashlynn Ross
Tatum O'Neal
Editing byCharles Bornstein
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Original channelLifetime Television
Release dateAugust 2, 2008 (2008-08-02)
Running time88 minutes
 
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Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal
Directed byTom McLoughlin
Produced byBob Wilson
Written byTeena Booth
StarringJenna Dewan
Ashley Benson
Aimee Spring Fortier
Stephanie Honoré
Jessica Heap
Ashlynn Ross
Tatum O'Neal
Editing byCharles Bornstein
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Original channelLifetime Television
Release dateAugust 2, 2008 (2008-08-02)
Running time88 minutes

Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal is a Lifetime Television made-for-TV drama film starring Jenna Dewan, Ashley Benson, and Tatum O'Neal and directed by Tom McLoughlin. The film premiered on August 2, 2008. It is based on a true story, which occurred at McKinney North High School in McKinney, Texas in 2006, in which five teenage cheerleaders became notorious for bullying, truancies, violations of the school dress code, and general disrespect to the school community and authority.[1]

Background: "The Scandal"[edit]

Michaela Ward was hired in 2005 to teach geography and coach the cheerleading squad at McKinney North High School.[2] She discovered that five cheerleaders, Karrissa Theret, Brittney Rader, Elizabeth Griffin, Shaunika Dancy and Danielle Billelo, also called the "Fab Five", had been disruptive in school and off-campus. They committed rule-breakings, like truancies and disturbances during classes (for example, using a cell phone), and had done off-campus extreme activities, like posting their own photos of themselves partying with alcohol and going to an adult store on Myspace. After Ward began working at the school, the Fab Five played pranks on her including a "chocolate tampon" and using Ward's cell phone to send text messages to her husband and another coach.[3]

Before Ward was hired, five coaches had resigned within three years because they could not discipline the unruly Fab Five. One former coach reported that Principal Linda Theret’s daughter Karissa gave a middle finger; reportedly, instead of expulsion from the squad, Principal Theret allowed her daughter to resign and then rejoin the squad for the next season. Moreover, the former coach accused Theret of attempting to ruin the coach's own reputation by labeling and slandering her, which Theret's lawyer denied.[3]

When the school found out about the Myspace photos, instead of expelling the Fab Five from the cheerleading squad, Theret gave the girls a 15-day suspension for the photo incidents, as recommended by school administrators. Afterwards, there were more incidents involving the Fab Five, such as drinking in a limousine at the homecoming dance and bullying other students.[3] According to Ward, administrators forbade Ward from taking tough disciplinary actions against cheerleaders.[4] Unable to handle the Fab Five and the school administrators, in October 2006, Michaela Ward resigned (or was forced to resign),[3] despite her close relationships with her students,[4] and then reported the Fab Five's unruly behaviors and the school's handling of them to the media.[3]

Harold Jones, a lawyer hired by the school district, concluded that the girls were given "carte blanche" to behave as they pleased by their parents and the school. As a result, the Fab Five were removed from the team and Principal Theret and Vice Principal Richard Brunner were fired.[2][3]

A list of accusations against the five varsity cheerleaders:

Michaela Ward told her story to Lifetime Television. The story inspired this television movie where the names of the people involved, and the school were changed for protection of liability, including Coach Ward, i.e. “Emma Carr" and the Fab Five girls.[2]

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

The television movie aired on Saturday, August 2, 2008, and scored a 2.63 household rating (3,041,547 viewers). Moreover, it scored a 2.63 rating (280,405 viewers) among females aged 12–17 and a 2.17 rating (1,219,726 viewers) among females aged 18–49.[6] Linda Stasi of the New York Post gave the movie three out of four stars.[7]

The Newsweek reviewer found real events "grimmer" than the television movie. The principal and the vice principal of the school were fired from their jobs. Girls from the Myspace photos (the "Fab Five") became victims of stalkers and "haunted by their reputations [from high school]". The McKinney North High School had become more strict and disclipinary than before.[2] As for the movie itself, Newsweek found it close to real events (despite name changes and omission of some events), the portrayal of Jenna Dewan's character "brave but naïve", and the story "an entertaining morality tale" yet "preachy".[2]

Steve Thompson of Yahoo! Voices praised this movie for addressing important messages to viewers about consequential actions, especially by schools and cheerleaders. Thompson found the portrayal of cheerleaders to be "purely evil" and vindictive, as well as finding some scenes, including one of a cheerleader assaulting another for "stealing [her] boyfriend", to be inspired by other real "mean girls" events, such as the beating of a 16-year-old girl in Lakeland, Florida, instead of the McKinney photo scandal.[8]

Aftermath[edit]

After the story broke, Michaela Ward faced unemployment and "became ostracized", especially after her lawsuits. She filed one lawsuit in 2008 to get her job back, but the case failed. Reportedly, she coaches cheerleading at a local gym in McKinney, Texas, and had privately coached a former student (not one of the Fab Five) at the request of a parent.[2] In December 2009, former principal Linda Theret was hired by the Laredo Independent School District as Executive Director of Curriculum.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lifetime has 'Five' spirit, yes they do". The Hollywood Reporter. February 22, 2008. Retrieved October 21, 2012.  (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c d e f "The 'Fab Five' Revisited". Newsweek. August 4, 2008. Retrieved October 21, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Arian Campo-Flores; Gretel C. Kovach (January 1, 2007). "Mean Girls". Newsweek. Retrieved October 21, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Ward, Michaela. Michaela Ward: Setting the Story Straight. Interview with Dayna Gross. Lifetime Television. http://www.mylifetime.com/movies/michaela-ward-setting-story-straight. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  5. ^ http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2007/01/01/mean-girls.html
  6. ^ "Lifetime Original Movie 'Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal' Builds Pyramid to Become Network's Top W18-34 and W12-17 Movie of the Year".  Also seen in The Futon Critic and Reuters.
  7. ^ Linda Stasi (July 31, 2008). "Mean Girls High: True Story of 'Texas Cheerleaders'". New York Post. Retrieved October 21, 2012. 
  8. ^ Steve Thompson (August 2, 2008). "Review of Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal on Lifetime". Yahoo! Voices. Retrieved October 21, 2012.  For more information about beatings of a 16-year-old girl from Lakeland, Florida, read the article from MSNBC.com.
  9. ^ "Laredo Independent School District hires Linda Theret". KGNS-TV. December 7, 2009. Retrieved October 21, 2012. 

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