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‘Bad Education:’ Is HBO’s New Movie Based on a True Story?

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Warning: This article contains spoilers for Bad Education, airing on HBO tonight at 8 p.m. ET.

Bad Education on HBO is a very good movie based on a true story, and like any very good movie based on a true story, changes were made to ensure the whole “good” part. Still, there are still quite a few truths to the whole “true story” part, which is the story of how a superintendent of a Long Island school district, Dr. Frank A. Tassone, was at the center of a scandal that robbed Roslyn public schools of millions of dollars. Hugh Jackman stars as Tassone in one of the best roles of his career, while the always-excellent Allison Janney stars as his assistant superintendent who was also involved in the embezzlement.

Bad Education is directed by Cory Finley—his second film after 2017’s Thoroughbreds—and was written by Mike Makowsky, who was a middle school student at Roslyn when Tassone was arrested in 2004. So though changes were made to make Bad Education the slick, compelling movie that it is, trust that those changes were made intentionally, and not out of ignorance. The script is based on writer Robert Kolker’s gripping New York Magazine feature, “The Bad Superintendent,” which is definitely worth a read. But if you’re looking for the cliff notes version of how this real-life scandal went down, let’s get into the Bad Education true story, from where Frank Tassone is now, to how accurate Bad Education really is.

Is Bad Education a true story?

Yes. Bad Education is based on the true story of Dr. Frank A. Tassone and a scandal he was involved in the early 2000s.

Who is Frank Tassone? Who is Hugh Jackman’s character in Bad Education?

Frank Tassone was the superintendent of the Roslyn, Long Island, school district for 12 years. In 2006, he was sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison for stealing at least $2 million from his public school district—aka stealing from the tax payer’s money.

After the scandal was exposed, members of the Roslyn community learned of Tassone’s double life—he always spoke of a dead wife, and kept her picture on his desk, but, as it turned out he lived in a Manhattan apartment with another man and also owned a house in Las Vegas with a 32-year-old male exotic dancer. (Tassone was 60 when he was sentenced for his crimes.) Though he never came out as gay, many residents had already assumed he was.

But it should be noted, as Bad Education demonstrates, Tassone was respected, admired, and even beloved as Roslyn’s superintendent before the scandal broke. He listened to concerns of parents carefully and remembered the birthdays and anniversaries of his faculty. He lived like a CEO of a private business, with sharp suits and nice car, and didn’t hide the fact that he felt other school administrators should be treated with Wall Street-levels of respect.

Hugh Jackman
Photo: Courtesy of HBO

Who is Pam Gluckin? Is Allison Janney’s character in Bad Education a real person?

Yes. Pam Gluckin was Tassone’s assistant superintendent. In 2002, she was caught stealing $250,000 from the school. As we see in the film, she really did rack up charges at hardware stores (ACE in the movie, Home Depot in real life), though according to the New York Magazine article, she mostly wrote school checks to pay off her credit card bills, rather than using a school-issued credit card.

Like Tassone, she was well-liked. And Allison Janney’s vanity license plate, “DUNENUTN?” You better believe that’s a real detail from the real Pam Gluckin’s life. Gluckin and Tassone were very close. It’s not clear whether or not she knew of Tassone’s double-life, though the film implies that she did, when Janney mentions a woman who hits on the superintendent is “not his type.”

What is the true story of Frank Tassone at Roslyn High School?

As we see in the film, the scandal began when Tassone helped cover-up Gluckin’s embezzlement in 2002. According to Kolker’s reporting, Tassone told the Roslyn school board that she was unstable, that she was mentally ill, and that she would pay back the money and resign quietly. He told the school board it would actually save the school money to have her resign immediately, rather than to keep receiving her salary for the years it would take go through the court if they pressed charges. He also, as we see Jackman do, warned that a scandal like this would hurt Roslyn’s students’ chances of getting into good colleges and bring down Roslyn property values.

But Tassone had another reason for covering up the scandal: he was stealing money, too. In early 2004, he accidentally received an anonymous letter that was a tip-off that he was embezzling money, which allowed him to launch a pre-emptive defense. When news of Gluckin’s embezzlement got out, he tried to get accountant Andrew Miller and lawyer Tom Hession to take the blame. They wouldn’t do it. Board president Bill Costigan—who was renamed Bob Spicer and played by Ray Romano in the movie—began to suspect Tassone was involved. He was right.

Throughout the film the school roof is leaking, and, as we see in a quick scene near the end, it literally falls in. That’s all true. The Roslyn High roof fell in, while Tassone was buying himself $1,800-a-night hotel rooms in London with the tax-payer money. He went to Vegas with the Roslyn High School principal and used the tax-payer money to gamble. He spent tax-payer money dry-cleaning the crisp, slick suits he was always known for wearing. Before he was arrested, he transferred $300,000 to bank accounts for his sisters.

The grand total of money stolen from Roslyn school district was estimated at $11.2 million. Tassone and Gluckin were two of six people believed to be involved in the larceny scandal, which stretched over six years and involved friends and relatives of the school administrators. Tassone was convicted of stealing only $2.2 million, and as of 2006 when he was sentenced, he had paid $1.9 million back.

Allison Janney
Photo: HBO

Where is Frank Tassone now?

After first professing his innocence, Tassone pled guilty to to grand larceny and was sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison in 2006. According to Newsday, he was released from Hale Creek Correctional Facility early thanks to good behavior completing rehabilitative programs while incarcerated, in January 2010. That’s eight months shy of a four-year sentence. He is now in his 70s, and still receives an annual state pension of $173,495.04.

Roslyn teachers’ union president, Eleanor Russell, protested his release. “We really don’t understand the system of justice that would let Frank Tassone out after all the damage he has done to the Roslyn public schools, including the teachers and the community,” she told Newsday.

Who is Rachel Bhargava?

Rachel Bhargava (played by Blockers star Geraldine Viswanathan) is a fictional character based on Rebekah Rombom, who was one of two editors in chief at Roslyn’s student paper, The Hilltop Beacon, who broke the news of the embezzlement scandal. The other editor was a girl named Sam Floam, who was replaced by a new fictional character named Nick Fleischman, played by Alex Wolff. Her storyline and character is the one that deviates from real life the most.

geraldine-viswanathan
Photo: HBO

How accurate is Bad Education on HBO?

Like any good movie based on a true story, things were changed either for length or narrative effect. Names were changed: Ray Romano’s character, Bob Spicer, is Bill Costigan in real life. Rachel Bhargava is really Rebekah Rombom. Kyle Contreras (played by Rafael Casal) is really Jason Daugherty. Tom Tuggiero (played by Stephen Spinella) is really Steve Signorelli.

The timeline of events was shortened to fit the film’s two-hour runtime. In reality, it took months of reporting for Tassone’s crimes to come to light, during which Tassone spent much of his time on vacation in Las Vegas, California, Florida, and elsewhere. Some key players were cut, and others were combined, creating characters who were fictional conglomerates of real people, such as the real-life auditor Al Razzetti, and the real-life accountant Arthur Miller, who is a fictional character named Phil Metzger, played by Jeremy Shamos.

The major story change made for the film was the character of Rachel Bhargava, the student journalist. Bad Education implies that the young journalist found out about Tassone’s involvement before anyone else by visiting his secret Manhattan apartment and that she blew the story wide open, essentially bringing down Tassone immediately after publishing her story. In real life, it wasn’t nearly so narratively satisfying.

In an essay penned for The New York Times, the real Rombom told her account of how she worked together with her co-editor Sam, a girl who was cut from the film and replaced by a new character named Nick Fleischman, played by Alex Wolff in the movie. Both young reporters had heard from sources that Tassone had received an anonymous letter accusing him and other administrators of theft. Tassone had said the allegations were false. The reporters consulted their faculty advisor, unsure whether they should publish a story with so few details. The advisor said they should, so Rombom wrote the story and published it.

It is true that, as the end credits titles say, The Hilltop Beacon was the first to report on the scandal. However, that story in The Beacon was not nearly as in-depth as Bad Education implies. The real Rombom did not dig into the public records, as Bhargava does in the film. The real Rombom was also pressured by the administration to omit Gluckin’s name from her story, which she did. After the story published—after the principal reviewed it first—Rombom expected a big reaction from the student body, but none came. The students didn’t care. However, in the following weeks, Newsday and other publications reported on the story extensively. There’s no doubt Rombom engaged in some excellent reporting for a high school journalist—it just wasn’t quite as prodigy-like as the HBO film implies.

However, though details were changed to make a better movie, a former Roslyn teacher attested to the feeling of the film ringing true. “Though I interacted only a few times with Tassone himself, and never, to my memory, with Gluckin, their movie versions felt eerily spot on,” Holly Ojalvo wrote in a review for Quartz.

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What Makes a Good Online Casino?

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A quick search for an online casino will reveal hundreds of results. However, these casinos are not created equally. Some are better than others in many ways. That’s why you cannot settle for the first option that catches your eye. You need to do thorough research to ensure you settle for a casino that will give you a better experience – and some good money in the process.

So, what makes a good online casino?

The truth is that there are many reputable casinos online – and new ones keep popping up with each passing day. But the few bad ones spoil the name for the others. These casinos scam people. They are eager to make deposits but not keen to give players their money back, pay their affiliates, or even stick to their terms and conditions. These casinos – scam or rogue casinos – are exactly the types you want to avoid.

Unfortunately, most of these rogue casinos disguise as good ones. You might have a hard time telling them apart, especially if you are just getting started. To help you make an informed decision, here are some qualities that make a good online casino.

It does not feature in the blacklist

One of the easiest ways to tell a good casino from the bad ones is by looking at different online casino blacklists. Different reputable platforms always release yearly blacklists to protect casino players from gambling scams online. They put bad casinos on a list for everyone to see and ensure no one signs up to any of those casinos in the future. Since these sites differ, chances are you won’t find the same casinos on every blacklist. But the fact that a casino makes the list means they have one or more of these problems:

  • Change terms
  • Predatory terms
  • Slow pay
  • Unfair games
  • Nonpayment
  • Marketing spam
  • Licensing and regulation

Choice of games

As a player, you’ll appreciate the choice of picking whichever game pleases you. That’s why you need a casino that offers more games. Browse around to find the casino games that the provider offers to see if it’s a good fit.

It’s fair, secure, and serious

As you may have noticed from above, many casinos end up on the blacklist for many reasons, including unfairness and security issues. Good online casinos use random number generator that determines the chances of winning. On top of that, they work with third parties to check the fairness of games. What’s more, these casinos display various certificates on their platforms, giving you further assurance that things are conducted fairly.

Has good customer service

You can tell a good casino by how their customer support team treats you when you send a request or inquire about something. They will be willing and happy to serve you. they will also have adequate knowledge to address your concerns and be available 24/7.

Accept your payment methods

A good casino accepts a wide range of payment options, ranging from online payment options to instant bank transfers and even credit card solutions. This allows you to use your preferred payment method and not feel locked out. Stay away from sites that provide limited payment options. Some of them fail to get approved by payment platforms, which by itself is a red flag.

Has a bonus offer

It’s easy to assume bonus offers and other incentives, especially if you are new to the game. However, you should work with a casino that provides a consistent bonus offer and not just a good welcome offer. You’ll need these bonuses even as an existing client. Moreover, the site should provide promotions without deposit, reload offers, and many free spins. Don’t feel limited. Many casino sites offer these bonuses, and if the one in question doesn’t, you might as well keep looking.

Free games and easy registration

As a newbie, the last thing you want is to sign up with a casino that doesn’t provide free games. You need to practice without having to deposit money or fear that you’ll lose money. Free games allow you to practice and be good before playing real money. Additionally, the casino should have a simple registration and easy account opening process. If it’s too complicated, then maybe it’s not the right casino for you.

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How Las Vegas became the world’s casino capital

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These days, it’s impossible to think of Las Vegas without the image of the lights on the strip and glamorous casinos coming to mind. But the Vegas we know of 2020 wasn’t always that way; and it took a long, long time to get its reputation for being the world’s casino capital. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and get to the root of how Las Vegas became the city that never sleeps.

A historical journey

It’s hard to believe these days, but the Las Vegas region was once an abundant marshland stock full of rich vegetation. That is, until the marsh receded, and the waters disappeared, transforming the landscape into a desert, with the trapped water underground sprouting life and forming an oasis.

It was during the 19th century that the explorer Antonio Armijo from Mexico foraged the way from New Mexico to California on the first commercial caravan. It was a member of the group, Rafael Rivera who rode west to find water and venture through the desert, setting his eyes upon Las Vegas Springs. Las Vegas was therefore named ‘the meadows’ after the grasses found growing there.

Years went on and both Mormon and Mexican settlers began to filter through. In 1890 it was decided by railroad developers that Las Vegas would serve as a spot along the San Pedro, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles railroad route as well as connecting to major cities along the Pacific Coast. From there on, Vegas boomed with stores, boarding houses and saloons popping up around the area. This was the beginning of the Las Vegas as we know it — with railroad workers and ranchers enjoying the gambling and drinking through illegal speakeasies and bootleg casinos operating despite the ban on gambling in Nevada in 1910.

In 1931 gambling once again became legal in the state, with new casinos and showgirl venues opening up along Fremont Street to entertain the thousands of workers who flocked the city during the construction of the Hoover Dam. The first hotel, El Rancho Vegas, opened up in 1941 along Highway 91. Its success inspired others to open up their own hotels along the highway which would one day become the strip. Tourists began to flock to the city over the next few decades to enjoy the casino scene and see incredible artists like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra perform.

The birth of the mega resort

It was in 1966 the businessman Howard Hughes purchased the Desert Inn hotel; this was followed by over a dozen more hotel purchases, pushing out the mobster-owned hotels that had previously dominated Las Vegas. The concept of the mega hotel came about in 1989 when Steve Wynn opened the Mirage as the first hotel resort in the city. By 1994, Las Vegas was the home of more than 86,000 hotel and motel rooms with 13 of the 20 largest mega resort hotels in the world. It was during this era that the Strip became populated with more hotels and casinos, with developments inspired by the iconic cities and countries of the globe including Egypt, Paris, New York and Rome.

Las Vegas in the 21st century

The Las Vegas of today is well and truly established as a home for entertainment and casinos — which remain the biggest source of income for the city. However, there’s no doubt that Vegas faces more competition than ever before from the virtual world, with more people than ever before opting to play at an online casino, rather than play in the old fashioned way, but Vegas will always have the advantage. For many, it’s a once in a lifetime trip that an online casino can’t replicate, but do the online equivalents help to increase interest in Vegas?

The bright lights of Vegas is attracting billions of dollars in investment as many try and get a slice of the revenue that the sector has to offer. During 2019 over 42.52 million people came to visit Las Vegas from all around the world. Domestically, it was shown to be the second most popular destination for U.S. traveller’s dream spots after New York.

These days, Las Vegas continues to thrive and be a source of entertainment for millions of visitors from around the world looking to experience what the city has to offer. With new generations becoming interested in casino games — and some incredible musical residencies continuing to be announced — Las Vegas surely will continue to be one best places to go for a unforgettable dream destination for many.

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Land-Based Casinos

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What can people find at some of the biggest land-based casinos in Canada? From Niagara Falls to Toronto, there is something for everyone at casinos in Canada, including table games, slots, roulette, blackjack, and other games. There are also many poker and blackjack tournaments held throughout the year and it is easy to find jackpots or slots with free spins at the casinos. Many casinos also have hotels, bars, and numerous restaurants which are perfect for players seeking some comfort. A relaxing casino experience for all ages can be found in many different places in Canada. Choose one from below.

Choosing a casino depends on your tastes and location within Canada. Do you want to experience the grandeur and splendour of nature while placing a bet? Then head to Niagara Falls. Do you want to see a show? Choose a casino with a show that will be perfect for you. If you are looking for pure relaxation, then check out some of the casinos with spas and world-class dining. Entertainment is also a large part of the casino experience in Canada. Musicians, bands, comedians, and other types of entertainment continue to be found at all of the biggest casinos.

Some Big Casinos Near Nature

Casino Niagara is located in one of the most beautiful places in Canada and the world. People from all around the globe come to experience the best of both worlds at Casino Niagara. Players have access to beauty and scenery while spending time at one of the biggest casinos in Canada. The casino has two floors with over 1200 slot machines, poker, and other table games. There are also many different restaurants and even a comedy club. The sports bar and casino was refurbished back in 2017, meaning that it has not lost any of its charm and shine.

ST Eugene Golf Resort: Casino of the Rockies is a golf and nature lovers’ paradise. The location could not be any more splendid. People can find the casino between the Rockies and Purcell Mountains. Furthermore, the casino has an interesting history after it was converted from an Indian Residential School. It was then opened in the early 2000s. St Eugene has table games, electronic roulette, baccarat, and blackjack. There is also a golf course, restaurant, bar, spa, and hotel that is highly rated in Canada. Overall games are limited so most people come for golfing and betting fun.

Caesars Windsor is famously located on the riverbank in Windsor, Ontario. Visitors from both Canada and the States frequent the casino and hotel. Players can see the Detroit and Michigan skyline from the area. There are two floors of slots, table games, and plenty of poker tables. Blackjack, baccarat, and roulette are also available at the casino. It has beautiful restaurants, a gym, bars, slots, and live sports. Check out the Titan 360™, a 10-foot tall slot machine with 5800 pounds of wins at the click of a button. It’s the largest slot machine in the world and great fun.

  • Enjoy the size of Casino de Montreal and Hard Rock Casino
  • Enjoy the big and beautiful Casino Niagara or ST Eugene Golf Resort
  • Enjoy High Culture at Elements Casino Brantford

River Rock Casino Resort – In Transit

Are you passing through Vancouver Airport and have a long transit? Hire a cab and spend some time enjoying slot machines at River Rock Casino Resort. There are slots galore and the different themes make it an enjoyable visit for all. There is even a Dungeons and Dragons slot for gamers. A fourteen-table game room can be found at the casino and international poker tournaments are held regularly. Other features include a VIP area, spa, live music, 24-hour food and drink, as well as other entertainment. Richmond is also worth a quick visit, especially for some delicious seafood.

Casino de Montreal – The Big Gun

Casino de Montreal is 526,488 square feet of casino excitement. The casino has around 20 thousand visitors each day and is one of the biggest casinos on the globe. If you are still unconvinced about the size of the place, then imagine five floors of slots and table games. 3,000 machines and 111 table games make the casino seem even more mammoth. Casino de Montreal games can be played in a smoke-free environment and many players comment on the user-friendly games and helpful staff. Complimentary drinks and top-rated gourmet food is all part of the experience at Casino de Montreal.

Hard Rock Casino – Another Big One

Hard Rock Casino is another large casino located in Vancouver, British Columbia. The casino is over 80,000 square feet, making it a big one in Canada. Hard Rock has gaming tables, slots, baccarat and a poker room. The casino includes 70 casino tables and 1,000 slots. Private rooms and high roller areas are also available. However, the Hard Rock name is known for excellent food and this is what people love about this casino. Many players comment on the quality of the food here. It even has a 1,000 seat theatre, making it great for dining and a show.

Elements Casino Brantford – Enjoy High Culture

Elements Casino Brantford is a historical gem for culture in Ontario. It is a charity casino that was established last century. It includes the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts, which is a high society entertainment venue in Ontario. The centre is well known to performing arts enthusiasts in Ontario and Canada. Players come to see a show, enjoy some gourmet food and a game. The casino also has plenty of slots, table games, blackjack, baccarat, sic bo, three card poker, roulette, and other games. There is also a 14-table Texas Hold ‘Em poker room. Enjoy all the excitement.

River Cree Resort and Casino – Sports Lovers

River Cree Resort and Casino is a sport and gaming venue located in Edmonton that should not be overlooked. It has 39 tables of various money limits and over 1,000 slots. There are also a few different places to dine while enjoying a bet and other things to experience. There is a fitness centre, spa and a 200 room resort. However, the most interesting feature of this casino is the two hockey rinks, which are often used by the Edmonton Oilers for practice. It is possible to watch the team practice and go for a meal and some gaming fun.

For the ones who fancy playing online we recomend visiting canadiancasino.org!

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