'Scandal' Being Used to Recruit Students Into Political Management Program

The real Olivia Popes help to explain their field

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Scandal's Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), who is inspired by real-life crisis manager Judy Smith.

Even though ABC's "Scandal" sometimes borders on the ridiculous -- Kerry Washington's character is, after all, having an affair with the president of the United States -- the show is being used to recruit future Olivia Popes to the field.

George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management is hosting a "Scandal"-themed event in October, to coincide with the series' season 3 premiere, to show prospective students what crisis management, opposition research, communications, and political strategy professionals really do for a living.

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"We think it's a great way to kind of bring together this idea of -- how do people see these jobs versus what are the jobs and what do our actual alums know," explained Lara Brown, a program director at the Graduate School of Political Management.

Brown became a huge "Scandal" fan thanks to her students, who kept bringing the Washington-based soap opera up in class.

"The show is fun, Kerry Washington is obviously a big celebrity from our university and then, of course, what is so great...is that Hollywood does kind of provide a vantage point and a window into politics," Brown said. (Washington, the star of the series, went to GW and even gave the university's commencement speech last spring.)

For the Oct. 3 event, Brown tapped three alumni from the school to participate. There's Anthony Bellotti, who did opposition research for Arnold Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial re-election campaign. There's Tech America's Stephanie Craig, a former communications adviser for former Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. And also Jason Linde, formerly Rep. Bill Foster's, D-Ill., chief of staff.

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"We are basically going to provide them with one of the storylines that was kind of a mess at the beginning and then we're going to ask them, 'what would you do different in terms of how you would go about dealing with this situation versus how they did it on the show?'"

Brown has yet to pick out which episode the panel will discuss, but hopes students will get a feel for the reality of a political career path. "We basically pulled in...our alumni from both sides of the aisle and we try to engage them in a conversation that's an example of what it really means to work in Washington," Brown said. "Because that's really what they're going to help tell current students and prospective students."

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