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Al Pacino to play Joe Paterno in HBO Film

A Chronicle of the darkest chapter in Penn State’s history

Anna Kagarakis
June 05, 2017 - 3:33 pm
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The fallout from the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal rocked Penn State to the core, and now, one of the most famous and well-renowned actors in Hollywood will portray the man who reportedly turned a blind eye to the atrocious acts done right under his nose.​

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Oscar winner Al Pacino will star as the late Joe Paterno, the winningest coach in college football history who piloted Penn State from 1966 to 2011. Paterno was dismissed from the team when details of the scandal emerged, as Sandusky, a longtime assistant coach under Paterno, was arrested and charged with 52 counts of sexual abuse of young boys over a 15-year period.  He was found guilty of 45 charges and sentenced to 60 years in prison.

The film will get an HBO movie treatment; the premium cable network will produce the film in association with Sony Pictures Television. HBO suspended the film over budget issues two years ago when it was originally entitled Happy Valley. The project was based on the book Paterno by Joe Posnanski, which chronicled the events that forever changed the legacy of the Penn State icon and others involved at the institution. Paterno died from lung cancer two months after being fired, though many say he died because of a broken heart from the fallout.

The now “untitled” feature gets the green light with a new director, Barry Levinson, who will also serve as the project’s executive producer. Levinson most recently directed The Wizard of Lies, an HBO film about Bernie Madoff starring Robert De Niro that premiered last month. The director’s best known credits include Good Morning Vietnam, Wag the Dog, The Natural, and Rain Main, in which he won the Academy Award for Best Director and Best Picture.

Pacino has headlined three other films for the HBO, including You Don’t Know Jack, about Jack Kevorkian, in which he won an Emmy and Golden Globe for his performance. His many credits include The Godfather trilogy, Scarface, Scent of a Woman, among many others.

The partnership between Pacino and Levinson seems like an A+ team that will turn a horrific and heart breaking scandal into an eye-opening an riveting piece. The Film Buff will keep you posted on release dates and details as they emerge. 

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