• Inspiration for 'Scandal' speaks out about show

    By: Tony Thomas


    ATLANTA - The crisis manager who helped inspire Scandal is talking about the hit TV show and some of the big cases she's handled.

    Channel 2's Tony Thomas sat down with Judy Smith as she shared her thoughts on working with Michael Vick and Monica Lewinsky, two very  high-profile cases.

    Smith spoke as part of a lecture series at Spelman College.

    The show Scandal is loosely based on her life as a crisis manager in Washington, DC. She said some of it's true, but she's quick to point out, definitely not everything.

    "Well, let's get this out of the way: I didn't sleep with the president," Smith said right off the bat.

    Smith serves as Scandal's co-executive producer, trying, she said, to give authenticity to the characters.

    The show focuses on crisis manager Olivia Pope, partially based on Smith, and scandals around the White House and DC.

    "Sometimes they kind of skirt the line a little bit. Yeah, I can't do that," Smith said.

    She can, however, explain how she would react and she's been right in the middle of some of the biggest scandals.

    When former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Vick ran afoul of the law, ultimately going to prison, Smith guided him through the P.R. nightmare.

    "I think Michael Vick is an example of someone who can be rehabilitated and someone who was able to regain their brand," Smith said.

    She also worked with Lewinsky.

    "It was pretty intense to say the least. Could that have been handled the same way now compared to 14 years ago? No it couldn't, and I think mainly because of the social media aspect," Smith said.

    Smith tells groups across the country the same rules that apply to those fictional TV characters, or real life public figures caught in scandals, can apply to everyone.

    "Tell the truth. No. 1 advice, and I think the other one competing is we need to know all the facts," Smith said.

    Smith is a former lawyer and deputy press secretary for President George H.W. Bush.

    She continues to run a crisis management firm in Washington, D.C.

    Smith has also represented NBA star Kobe Bryant when he had his legal troubles, BP during the oil spill and also many other governments around the world.

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