Brian De Palma to Direct Al Pacino in Joe Paterno Biopic HAPPY VALLEY

     January 16, 2013


The Scarface duo of Brian De Palma and Al Pacino are united once again to tell the story of the late former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno in the upcoming biopic Happy Valley (tentative title).  Paterno’s decorated legacy at the school was overshadowed by the revelation of his knowledge of defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky’s molestation of children, which will likely be one of the main focuses of the film.

The rise and fall of Paterno is chronicled in the bestselling book that bears his name — Paterno, by Joe Posnanski, which has been optioned by Wall Street producer Edward R. Pressman.  Dave McKenna (American History X) is said to be on board to write the script.  Hit the jump for more on the project.

al-pacino-joe-paternoAs we reported this fall, Pacino has been attached to the project for some time.  Also as we noted, though the choice of Pacino to play Paterno may raise a few eyebrows, he did have an explosive turn (as is his wont) as a football coach in the NFL-based film Any Given Sunday.

It’s hard not to already be familiar with the details of the Sandusky scandal, and the film may choose to look at things like the culture of the university’s football program that allowed it to happen.  Within all of that lies the complex motivations of a man who rose to such heights because of his managerial brilliance, but was undone by his silence.  Plenty of interesting stuff for a complicated movie.

Via Amazon, here’s a description of Paterno, and an idea into what the film may cover:

Joe Posnanski’s biography of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno follows in the tradition of works by Richard Ben Cramer on Joe DiMaggio and David Maraniss on Vince Lombardi. Having gained unprecedented access to Paterno, as well as the coach’s personal notes and files, Posnanski spent the last two years of Paterno’s life covering the coach, on (and off) the field and through the scandal that ended Paterno’s legendary career.

Joe Posnanski, who in 2012 was named the Best Sportswriter in America by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame, was with Paterno and his family as a horrific national scandal unfolded and Paterno was fired. Within three months, Paterno died of lung cancer, a tragic end to a life that was epic, influential, and operatic.

Paterno is the fullest description we will ever have of the man’s character and career. In this honest and surprising portrait, Joe Posnanski brings new insight and understanding to one of the most controversial figures in America.


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