Al Pacino to Play Penn State's Joe Paterno in 'Happy Valley' Movie

Gabe ZaldivarPop Culture Lead WriterJanuary 17, 2013

Photo Credit: Rolling Stone
Photo Credit: Rolling Stone

Well, it's been about a year since the gaping wound of the Penn State scandal was ripped open, so it must be time for a movie about Joe Paterno starring Al Pacino. At least, that's what Hollywood seems to think. 

CBS Sports reports Al Pacino will play the famous head coach who passed away on Jan. 22, 2012, a couple of months after the college fired him over the growing scandal surrounding his former assistant, Jerry Sandusky. 

The report does offer hope that the movie will be mostly about Paterno:

Producer Edward R. Pressman confirms Brian De Palma will direct Happy Valley, the tentative title of the film, based on Joe Posnanski's best-seller Paterno.

"Happy Valley reunites the Scarface and Carlito's Way team of De Palma and Pacino for the third time and I can't think of a better duo to tell this story of a complex, intensely righteous man who was brought down by his own tragic flaw," Pressman said in a statement. No start or release dates were given for the film.

While Pressman said the plot remains "under wraps," Posnanski's book followed Paterno's final years, as the winningest coach in college football history saw his career end in disgrace in 2011 with the sex abuse scandal involving assistant Jerry Sandusky.

Paterno was unceremoniously kicked out of Penn State amid a horrible scandal after 45 years as head coach.

Sandusky was a former Paterno assistant coach who was found guilty of the kind of despicable acts we would love to forget. 

A little over a year ago, the Penn State scandal and Paterno's firing were the biggest story in sports and captivated/horrified the world. 

Now, those in Hollywood want to jump on the story before anyone else does, or get it while it's still fresh in your mind.

We talked about the rumors that this movie might come to fruition back in September 2012. We said it then and will offer it here: This is too soon. 

Granted, the movie will try to stay on course and tell the story of Paterno's full career, but you have to imagine a great portion of that will be the brief and astonishing part at the end, when Penn State was demolished and Paterno was vilified. 

Pacino will no doubt strike the right emotional chord needed for a movie and character like this, so the hope is it's very much in good hands. 

I don't think we can expect an over-the-top portrayal like the one given in Any Given Sunday (video posted includes NSFW language). 

Any movie on this subject will reach back and hit emotional notes to remind you of the horrible end. Well, there is no need, at least not yet. 

We can still very much see and feel those horrid moments. 


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