Lori Loughlin gets photo op with wholesome Levar Burton in comeback


As Lori Loughlin launched her public return to the more respectable side of Hollywood society this past week, she couldn’t ask for a better opportunity than to be photographed with actor Levar Burton, the longtime host of PBS’s Emmy-winning kids’ literacy show “Reading Rainbow.”

The opportunity for the disgraced “Full House” star to be associated with the well-regarded Burton came on Monday, apparently courtesy of Loughlin’s Hallmark Channel colleague, Holly Robinson Peete. Loughlin, the public face of the college admissions scandal, joined Burton and the even more famous Magic Johnson to celebrate Peete receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Peete also is known for her work on “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper” and “21 Jump Street.”

At  Peete’s Walk of Fame event, Loughlin, 57, was all smiles for photographers as wore an all white ensemble. She is still on two years’ supervised release following her two-month stint in federal prison in 2020.

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 21: (L-R) Lori Loughlin, Holly Robinson Peete and Amy Yasbeck attend the Hollywood Walk of Fame Star Ceremony for Holly Robinson Peete on June 21, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images) 

While Johnson spoke at the star dedication ceremony, Loughlin, famous for playing wholesome Aunt Becky on “Full House,”  was photographed seated next to Burton. With his long career, Burton also has earned the wholesome label.

The 65-year-old shot to fame in the 1970s, playing Kunta Kinte in the landmark TV miniseries “Roots,” then had a memorable turn in the Star Trek universe, playing Geordi La Forge on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” He also has won a Grammy and NAACP Image awards, as well as a Peabody for executive producing an episode of “Reading Rainbow’s” engaging and uplifting educational content for children. More recently, Burton was a top contender to succeed Alex Trebek as host of “Jeopardy!” and he served as Grand Marshal of the 2022 Rose Parade in Pasadena.

To be able to publicly socialize with Burton and Johnson, Loughlin appears to have a good friend in Peete, who probably was responsible for Loughlin’s other notable red carpet moment this week. Loughlin attended the DesignCare 2022 Gala for the HollyRod Foundation in Los Angeles. The nonprofit is led by Peete and her husband, Rodney Peete, and aims to help families with loved ones who have been diagnosed with autism or Parkinson’s Disease.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 18: (L-R) Holly Robinson Peete and Lori Loughlin attend DesignCare 2022 Gala to benefit the HollyRod Foundation on June 18, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for HollyRod Foundation)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 18: (L-R) Holly Robinson Peete and Lori Loughlin attend DesignCare 2022 Gala to benefit the HollyRod Foundation on June 18, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for HollyRod Foundation) 

The gala marked Loughlin’s first red carpet moment since before March 2019. That’s when she and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were arrested and charged with paying $500,000 in bribes to get their less-than-qualified daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Giannulli, fraudulently admitted to the University of Southern California on the pretense of being talented crew team athletes.

Loughlin and Giannulli were two of the highest profile defendants in the nationwide bribery scheme, which revealed the lengths to which some wealthy parents would go to get their children into elite universities.

For more than a year, Loughlin and Giannulli insisted they were innocent of the charges, expressed fear that they were targets of malicious prosecution and claimed they would be vindicated at trial. But in a stunning reversal, they agreed in May 2020 to plead guilty.

They were sentenced to terms in federal prison: Loughlin got two months, and Giannulli received five months. Loughlin completed her stint at Dublin’s Federal Correctional Institution, and was released just after Christmas in 2020.  She will be on supervised release through December 2022, during which she will need special permission to travel outside the larger Los Angeles area for work or pleasure.

Over the past year, Loughlin also has started to resume work. While the Hallmark Channel severed ties with Loughlin after the college admissions scandal broke, she has been able to reprise her role as Abigail Stanton, first created in the Hallmark series, “When Calls the Heart,” in two episodes of a spinoff series, “When Hope Calls,” which was produced by another network.

Loughlin hasn’t said anything publicly about her role in the scandal, other than when she was sentenced. She said she was “sorry” for the “awful decision” she made in allowing herself to “be swayed from my moral compass.”

Loughlin said she finally understood that her decision helped exacerbate existing inequalities in society generally and in the higher education system specifically.” The actor said she can only “take responsibility and move forward,” explaining she has “great faith in God” and in redemption.

“I will do everything in my power to redeem myself and use this experience as a catalyst to do good,” she said.

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