Pacino & Brian De Palma Re-Teaming for Joe Paterno Biopic ‘Happy Valley’

Published 2 years ago by

brian de palma to direct al Pacino & Brian De Palma Re Teaming for Joe Paterno Biopic Happy Valley

We first heard that Al Pacino would be playing the late Joe Paterno in an upcoming biopic last fall, when Joe Posnanski, the author of the New York Times best-selling biography Paterno, was shopping around a package deal that included the book and Pacino attached for the lead role. Now we are learning that Posnanski found a buyer during these last few months, and it appears the project is beginning to take off.

According to Deadline, Wall Street producer Edward R. Pressman has optioned the book and is backing the project, which will see director Brian De Palma and Pacino join forces for the third time in their careers. The pair last worked together in 1993 on Carlito’s Way, but more famously united for De Plama’s crime tale Scarface (which is getting a remake).

The Paterno film is tentatively titled Happy Valley, and will tell the life story of legendary Penn State football coach, Joe Paterno. Pressman and Pacino’s manager Rick Nicita are set to produce, while Dave McKenna (American History XBlow) is in talks to pen the script.

Pressman spoke of the film in confirming the deal with Deadline:

Happy Valley reunites the Scarface and Carlito’s Way team of De Palma & 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.”

paterno pacino Pacino & Brian De Palma Re Teaming for Joe Paterno Biopic Happy Valley

The film will obviously focus plenty of attention on Paterno’s fall from grace and the sexual abuse scandal at the university involving Jerry Sandusky. However, as previously reported, the film (like the book) will tell the story of the man, the coach and his rise to becoming the most successful coach in history, before 111 of his victories were vacated by the NCAA and his statue outside of Beaver Stadium was torn down following the scandal. Of course, now that the book has been optioned and will be in the hands of a different screenwriter, the story’s primary focus could shift.

While we don’t know exactly how the narrative will take shape, we can usually count on Pacino and De Palma to deliver an engaging drama. And considering Pacino’s recently-discovered affinity for playing characters based on real-life controversial figures (Jack Kevorkian in You Don’t Know Jack and Phil Spector in the upcoming eponymously-titled HBO biopic, for example); we can also assume that we’ll get a well-researched and spot-on portrayal of Paterno from the Oscar-winning actor.

There is still a lot to be determined as this project continues to take shape, but we will pass along more info about Happy Valley as it comes in.

Source: Deadline

Follow Daniel Johnson on Twitter @UODanJohnson
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  1. too soon

    • Agreed, plus a lot of people are just making presumptions about Paterno without any hard evidence. The only known fact concerning him is that, legally, he did what he was supposed to do, in that he reported the only allegation that was brought to his attention to his superiors. If this movie is just being made to further scandalize him, then shame on them.

      • Yep…couldn’t have said it better myself

        On that topic Daniel…..

        Could you explain how Joe is a controversial figure like you say in the article?

        Comparing him to a doctor who assisted people in their suicide and a convicted murderer…Really?

        • As evidenced by the debate that surrounds him, he is controversial. Some think he did the right thing and many do not, so it will be interesting to see how the film portrays him.

            • Completely understandable. However, I never compared those figures. I was just citing a couple of examples of other controversial figures he has played. I know this subject is touchy, but this site is really for movie fans who want to discuss the film. I’d hope that we could talk about the movie here and discuss Paterno and the case elsewhere.

  2. Very cool. Big fan of Scarface so I’m excited for these guys making another movie together. I don’t know a lot about Paterno, other than the recent scandal. I really hope they don’t focus too much time on that.

  3. How very inappropriate! What type of sports biopic is this going to be? This guy ended his life disgraced in all the wrong ways, if Todd Solondz was directing this I’d understand, but Palma starring Pacino, no thanks

  4. SWEET!

  5. Every Catholic priest is auditioning for Jerry Sandusky’s part.

    • If you are going to demonize, overgeneralize, and stereotype, then every teacher is auditioning for Sandusky’s part, too.

    • hahah.. thats a good one man.

  6. It’s decent casting I suppose……but as a Penn State fan and someone who grew up adoring Joe…..I and the rest of us don’t really need this.

    I mean if this was the full portrait of the man I can get behind it maybe….

    but you know they’ll overly focus on the end of his life and What Sandusky did (which really doesn’t have much to do with Joe, the team, or the University) …so they will probably be probably enlarging or making up Joe’s role in it ……and if its already in production they don’t know what happened because no one does as the trials are still going on.

    • Agreed. It is amazing how some desire to equate Paterno with Sandusky. Heck, I believe with the exception of one early allegation years ago, which was dismissed, when most of Sandusky’s crimes came to light, he was no longer employed with, nor a friend to, Paterno. People just love to tear others down.

  7. Isn’t it funny how sports help people forget there is such a thing as right and wrong. Even if you don’t do anything illegal, which im not saying is the case, it doesnt mean you didnt do anything WRONG. And I love how it is “scandalizing” to have a belief that differs from others. In a place where we drool over movies about heroes, especially super one, its sad that we hold the bar so low for our false heroes.

    To draw a comparison to a comic book. It’s kind of like when Peter Parker turned his back on a passing thug only to have his Uncle Ben die. Except in this story the thug is a child molester, and the man who turned his back died.

    • Believe what you want, but you are mistaken. Where is your evidence that Paterno “turned his back” on what was going on? First of all, the initial allegation against Sandusky was dismissed years ago. Nevertheless, he soon left the employ of Penn State, and was neither working with, nor a friend to, Paterno thereafter. The only other allegation brought to Paterno’s attention, years later, HE REPORTED to his superiors, and thus, the subsequent police investigation found that he did not do anything wrong. Yet, you must know better…

      • I must. And let’s all hope that all human beings, when we think something terrible is going on, do the absolute minimum that’s required and then shrug our shoulders and be glad that it is no longer our problem.

        • I simply hope they make an accurate movie. But it would be cool if they include the independent team of federal prosecutors and FBI agents who determined that he had helped hide Sandusky’s behaviors.

          • Oh, you must mean the report from Louis Freeh, who was also involved in falsely accusing the wrong individual of the Olympic Park Bombing in 1996. Perhaps you should read his report, as it doesn’t contain actionable EVIDENCE of Paterno’s alleged lapses, but rather, mere allegations and speculations.

        • As I said, Paterno was neither Sandusky’s employer or friend at the time McQueary approached him with what McQueary witnessed, not Paterno. Where is the rage with McQueary, for not intervening more forcefully and contacting the police himself, since HE was the eye-witness? Paterno did what he was obligated to do, inform his superiors of McQueary’s allegation, which for all Paterno could have known (since HE WAS NOT THERE), could have been unfounded, like the only other allegation he knew about from years ago. But again, you must know better, so feel free to demonize the man, like so many others, and overlook all the good that he has done for the school and the students there. I hope you are able to do at least half that good in your life.

            • Yes, it appears you teach them to jump to conclusions and make accusations about people without any real hard evidence. I presume you also teach them that if somebody does do something wrong or makes a lapse in judgment, that defines their entire existence. Commendable.

              Back to the movie, as you say.

              • Lapse in judgement do not last for years. Sadly if this movie is 100% accurate people are going to cry foul simply because they do not like what is being said. If he were any other person there would be little debate, but many people entered this debate holding the man on a pedestal refusing to entertain the possibility that he didn’t belong there. I came into it unbiased because I didn’t even know he was. I didn’t analyze the data through my “hero” lens.

                Daniel was right about the controversy.

                • But if Spider-Man starts killing people, maybe I’ll act the same way; and defend him to the end.

                  • Wait a second I want real evidence. Maybe that’s really Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man’s body.

                    Trying to reverse the negativity before calling it a night. Like the old guys I used to listen to at the barber shop, “Good argument, I’ll be back to argue some more at another time.” It was fun.

            • Haha. I agree, Ace.

  8. I hope they get the sex scenes right…
    What a disgrace
    A damn shame Hollywood had become

  9. this is the best pic of Al Pacino you could get?

    • haha!

  10. Some opinions here are insane and don’t know (or admit to themselves all the facts). There are several emails from Joe discussing how to handle knowing about this. These men concealed Sandusky’s activities from the Board of Trustees, the University community and authorities. I hope you kids get raped and find out your lovable hero covered it up for over 10 years. Then you defend him.