Al Pacino to Play Joe Paterno in PATERNO Biopic, Including the Penn State Sex Scandal

     September 7, 2012

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In a move that should surprise no one, a biopic is in the works for the highly-decorated (and denigrated) Penn State football coach, Joe Paterno.  What may come as a shock is that Al Pacino is attached to portray him.  Currently, it isn’t clear which way the film, which is structured around the Joe Posnanski book, Paternois going to be marketed: as a true-to-life biopic of Paterno or as a true-crime focus on the Penn State sex scandal.  Hit the jump for much more.

paterno-book-coverAs Deadline reports, Pacino is attached to play the late Joe Paterno in a biopic that may be equal parts anticipated and dreaded.  It’s now impossible to celebrate the coach, who was (and still is) worshiped by the faithful in Happy Valley, without reflecting on how his life came crashing down around him in the end.  Pacino can surely handle the part and the material, though he’ll probably have to tone down his persona from the last football coach he played (Any Given Sunday).  But I’m more interested to see how this plays out thematically:  should one grossly inexcusable decision wipe out a man’s entire legacy?

When Posnanski started his time with Paterno, the award-winning sportswriter probably thought he had a best-selling biography on his hands just from Paterno’s pedigree alone.  But when the sex scandal broke, the facts that leaked out were much stranger and more vile than any fiction. It would be a shame if this picture focused on either just Paterno’s career or just the sex scandal without paying respect to the victims and their families.

Here’s a look at the description from Posnanski’s Paterno (via Amazon):

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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