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Bad Education’s Gay Subject Slams ‘Sordid’ Depiction of His Sexuality

Bad Education’s Gay Subject Slams ‘Sordid’ Depiction of His Sexuality

Hugh Jackman

Former school superintendent Frank Tassone said he didn't "understand why they had to bring my sexuality into the film" about the embezzlement of funds from his district.

Bad Education, the acclaimed new HBO film by Cory Finley, is inspired by the real-life story of Frank Tassone, a Long Island school superintendent who was convicted of helming a scheme to embezzle $11.2 million from his district -- the largest such crime in U.S. history.

Tassone -- who was arrested in 2004, sentenced in 2006, and released in 2010 due to good behavior -- has kept a low profile since the incident. However, he gave an interview to Mike Bayer on The Coach Mike Podcastto criticize the film for how it depicted his gay identity.

While Tassone praised Hugh Jackman's performance as him, the former educator said the film is only about half accurate in the facts it presents. For example, Bad Education shows Tassone going behind his husband's back to embark on a sexual relationship with a male former student in Las Vegas.

Tassone said this portrayal is inaccurate. He was in an open marriage and the relationship was no secret from his partner, he told Bayer. Additionally, he was "bothered terribly" that the film would portray his lover as a former student, which was not the case.

Tassone also said he was "upset" that the film would depict him as hiding his sexuality. Bad Education shows Tassone's life with his partner as yet another secret he kept from students and colleagues. In one scene, he evades the advances of an interested mother by pointing to his wedding ring and citing the death of his wife years earlier. Details of his previous marriage are sprung upon his husband, Steven, during a police interrogation scene in order to drive home that Tassone is untrustworthy.

"There was a lot of implication, or at least I felt, that I didn't have a wonderful marriage or didn't love her so very much, which I did," Tassone said. "I almost felt it was disrespectful to her, and I loved her very much."

"I'm not ashamed of being a gay man, and again, they made it seem somewhat sordid," Tassone added. "That bothered me and upset me when the detective questioned Steven, and he implied that Steven didn't even know I was married [previously]. That was not the case. And I don't understand why they had to bring my sexuality into the film."

"I recognize that what I did was wrong and I broke the law, but that was 20 years ago, and I finally thought, you know, I could go forward," he said. "And for it to come all back 20 years later brought back feelings that were hurtful and that were warranted in many respects. So it was a challenging time to watch the movie."

Bad Education also stars Allison Janney as Pamela Gluckin, Tassone's assistant superintendent and partner in crime, as well as Geraldine Viswanathan (Blockers) as the student journalist who exposes the truth of the embezzlement. It is now available on HBO's streaming services.

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