> Al Pacino To Play Joe Paterno In Movie On Penn State Gridiron Scandal
From deadline.com by Mike Fleming
ICM Partners next week will be taking a package for a movie about former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, with Al Pacino attached to play the man called JoePa by most students at Happy Valley. The package will be built around Joe Posnanski’s biography Paterno, which is now atop The New York Times Bestseller List in its second week. Pacino’s manager, Rick Nicita, will produce.
The narrative arc of the movie that will be shopped is obvious. A man becomes the winningest coach in college football history and builds a powerhouse football program that turns him into a campus deity. When his former defensive coordinatorJerry Sandusky is revealed to be a pedophile and it comes out Paterno was told and helped hide the scandal, the coach was summarily fired. He died shortly after of cancer — and many feel of a broken heart — and the school had little choice but to raze a fabled statue of Paterno just as the NCAA dropped the hammer with sanctions against the school that included removal of Paterno’s wins going back to the cover-up. Sandusky was found guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse against young boys and is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Posnanski, an award-winning sportswriter who has written for Sports Illustratedand The Kansas City Star, had spent a year working on the book when the scandal broke. The book isn’t just about Paterno’s demise but rather his life before Penn State, his family and the iron grip he held over Penn State football and politics until his downfall. This can either be a feature film or a cable movie, because Shakespeare himself would have had trouble coming up with anything this shocking, and because the issues here still boggle the mind.
How could a coach whose mission was to mold college athletes into men and who was revered by his players stand idly by after learning one of his former coaches was a perv who used his charity for underprivileged kids, The Second Mile, to lure young fatherless victims for sexual trysts? An investigation indicated that Paterno used his influence to a degree that police weren’t even called after a graduate assistant (who later became an assistant coach) witnessed Sandusky showering with a minor in the Penn State football facility but told the coach instead of calling the authorities. While Paterno might not have wanted to sully his beloved football program with bad press, this inaction enabled Sandusky to operate unfettered for a decade, ruining young lives in the process.
Pacino played a memorable head football coach in the Oliver Stone-directed Any Given Sunday, and he also played Jack Kevorkian in the HBO film You Don’t Know Jack. I don’t often write about projects before they’re set up, but I doubt this one will stay on the market for long. John Burnham and Jeff Berg rep Pacino at ICM Partners, while the agency’s book czar Sloan Harris reps Posnanski.
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