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Barry Levinson to Direct HBO Film Starring Al Pacino

June 5, 2017

Al Pacino appears during his 'One Night Only' performance at the Seminole Hard Rock Live

After two years of putting the project on pause, HBO will officially move forward with their film about the Penn State football scandal starring Al Pacino, with Barry Levinson set to direct and executive produce. The film re-teams Pacino with Levinson and the network.

Originally, HBO Films has set Brian De Palma and Pacino for the project then titled Happy Valley in 2012. The film was in pre-production and in fall 2014 it was put on hold due to budget issues, and De Palma departed the project.

The movie– now untitled– chronicles the fall of Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, whose legend was undone by revelations he and others in the football program were aware that former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was molesting children, and did little to stop it.

The delayed allowed for more work to be done on the script, which was written by Debora Cahn, John C. Richards and David McKenna.

After becoming the winningest coach in college football history, Joe Paterno is embroiled in Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal, changing his legacy and pursing him to face questions of institutional failure on behalf of the victims.

Levinson, Tom Fontana and Jason Sosnoff will executive produce via Levinson/Fontana alongside Edward R. Pressman and Pacino’s manager Rick Nicita. Lindsay Sloane will be executive producing for HBO Films and Sony Pictures Television.

Pacino is the only member set for the film. Though during the project called Happy Valley had John Carroll Lynch to play Sandusky. It’s unclear whether he would return.

Paterno’s fall from grace was Shakespearean and when he died shortly after his firing– many felt it was from a broken heart as much as cancer. He was in the twilight of a career that left him the winningest coach in college football history, an iconic and beloved campus figure. Until his former defensive coordinator Sandusky was revealed to be a prolific pedophile, something that Paterno had been told about. While he informed an administrator, they did not call police, even after a graduate assistant and future assistant coach witness Sandusky in an encounter that looked like an act of sadomy with a child in the locker room showers.

This untitled Joe Paterno movie marks Pacino’s fourth project at HBO. He has starred in two HBO films, playing controversial figures like Jack Kevorkian in You Don’t Know Jack, which was also directed by Levinson, and Phil Spector.

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