The concept of Al Pacino starring as Joe Paterno in a movie has been rumored for nearly five years. The movie was set to be based on Joe Posnanski’s biography of Paterno, but eventually fell apart.

Now, the story of Pacino as Paterno has legs once again, with Variety learning that the legendary actor will be playing the late coach in an HBO film directed by Barry Levinson.

Levinson will direct and executive produce through his Levinson/Fontana banner, with Jason Sosnoff and Tom Fontana also executive producing. Edward Pressman and Linday Sloane will also executive produce, along with Rick Nicita through his RP Media Company. Debora Cahn, John C. Richards, and David McKenna will write. The film will be produced in association with Sony Pictures Television.

Pacino and Levinson have worked together multiple times, including in HBO biopics about Jack Kevorkian and Phil Spector.

Here’s the description of the film, which makes it seem like the focus won’t be on Paterno’s full life and career, but instead, on the immediate aftermath of the Sandusky scandal.

The official logline for the film reads: “After becoming the winningest coach in college football history, Joe Paterno is embroiled in Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal, challenging his legacy and forcing him to face questions of institutional failure on behalf of the victims.”

We’re not going to see this film come to life for awhile, but having a pair of familiar names in Levinson and Pacino attached to it will likely give the film some extra buzz upon its eventual release.


About Joe Lucia

I'm the managing editor of Awful Announcing and the news editor of The Comeback. I also made The Outside Corner a thing for six seasons.

3 thoughts on “Al Pacino will star as Joe Paterno in a long-rumored HBO film

  1. More interesting than the timeframe covered by the film is whether they will try to portray Paterno as a victim rather than as an accomplice.

    1. Probably depends on whether the Paterno family will have input, or any kind of veto power.

  2. They should return the statue of Joe Paterno to it’s original place on the Penn State campus. Also they should erect an adjacent bronze statue of a twelve year old boy looking up at Joe Paterno with the engraved inscription “Say it ain’t so JoePa”. The statues will constitute a teachable moment.

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