And you thought real TV producers were slimy

The drama behind “DHS,” the greatest faux TV show to ever hit Hollywood, continued yesterday as “star” Alison Heruth pled guilty to lying to federal investigators about the scam.

As the LA Times reminds us, Heruth and her “associate” (aka, apparenty boyfriend) Joseph Medawar, convinced investors, many from local churches, that they were in post production on a series about the Department of Homeland Security with the backing of President Bush. In fact, they used $5.5 million they raised to live like Bob Evans.

As I reported when Medawar was arrested last September, the dynamic duo allegedly used the money for $40,000 a month rent in Beverly Hills, meals at the Peninsula, and tuition for Heruth’s daughter at Pepperdine.
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The best part about this story was the website they set up to promote the series. Sadly it’s down , but it featured a trailer that consists primarily of clips obviously culled from other series, along with fake press clippings such as a cover from The Hollywood Reporter from a Saturday. The Reporter doesn’t publish on weekends. (There’s a screenshot from the trailer on the right.)

The saddest part was the people they allegedly conned: 70 investors, primarily through churches, many of whom gave most or all of their life savings. According to Medawar’s affidavid, one poor soul “invested” the $140,000 in life insurance he got after his wife died.

At various times, Medawar and Heruth said “DHS” was a drama, a reality show, and a newsmagazine. Personally, I would have liked to see it as a sitcom.

Medawar has pled not guilty to charges including wire fraud and money laundering.

Heruth faces up to three years in prison and has to pay restitution to the victims.

The story only gets richer when you consider the involvement of Orange County Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who, shockingly, didn’t comment for the article. Medawar optioned the Congressman’s thirty year old screenplay, “Baja,” about “an archeological expedition to Mexico by a military veteran and a liberal graduate student” for $23,000. Then, by coincidence, Medawar got a meeting with Rohrabacher and several other Republican congressmen and staff members from the House Homeland Security Committee. He also got access to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to shoot a few of the non-stolen scenes for the aforementioned promotional trailer with Heruth and a really bad actor.

Rohrabacher, of course, denies there was any connection between the option and the access Medawar got.