HBO debuts a teaser trailer for Paterno starring Al Pacino as the legendary Penn State football coach. You Don’t Know Jack director Barry Levinson reunites with Pacino for the biographical film, previously titled Happy Valley. Brian De Palma was at one point attached to direct but dropped out after production delays. Riley Keough, Annie Parisse, Kathy Baker and Greg Grunberg also star. HBO released a first-look image of Pacino’s Paterno back in July, 2017.
Joe Paterno coached Penn State football from 1966 until 2011. During that time he amassed 409 wins, the most ever by an FBS (formerly Division I) coach. But in 2011, scandal rocked Paterno and the Penn State program. In November of that year, long time Paterno assistant Jerry Sandusky was arrested on 52 counts of child sexual abuse. Paterno would ultimately lose his job amid allegations he knew about Sandusky’s crimes but did nothing to stop them. The NCAA would force Penn State to vacate 111 of Paterno’s wins, though they were later reinstated. A disgraced Paterno passed away in 2012 at the age of 85.
Al Pacino plays the fallen legend Joe Paterno in a new movie directed by frequent collaborator Barry Levinson. HBO has now released a first teaser trailer for Paterno. See the video above.
The straight-forward clip begins with a close-up of Pacino in full Paterno guise. The soundtrack has a crowd of Penn State fans clapping and chanting “Joe Pa-terno.” Indeed, Penn State fans came to worship Paterno during his many decades as head coach. This explains the extreme reaction to Paterno’s firing, a situation briefly addressed in a shot of fans overturning a satellite TV truck. We also see Paterno, post-firing, coming out of his house to greet the adoring masses.
The clip takes a chilling turn at the 20-second mark. Suddenly the chanting cuts out. We see a shot of a boy getting on an elevator with a man. “Dad, did you know about Jerry?” a halting voice asks as the man turns to reveal that he’s Jerry Sandusky. We cut back to the close-up of Pacino as Paterno, looking slightly befuddled. The key question throughout the Paterno scandal of course was “Did Paterno know?”
Paterno marks the second time Barry Levinson and Al Pacino have tackled a controversial figure for HBO. In 2010, they collaborated on You Don’t Know Jack, about assisted suicide advocate Doctor Jack Kevorkian. Pacino also played the titular crazy man music producer for David Mamet in HBO’s 2013 film Phil Spector. In 2017, Levinson himself guided Robert De Niro to a Golden Globe nominated performance as Bernie Madoff in The Wizard of Lies. Pacino, Levinson and De Niro may once have been heavy hitters in Hollywood, but nowadays the best place to see their work is on HBO, in movies about controversial old men. Paterno comes to HBO this spring.
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