According to an exclusive Deadline report, ICM Partners will start shopping around a project, starting next week, to which Al Pacino is attached to play late, controversial Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. The project is based on Sports Illustrated writer Joe Posnanski‘s biography, “Paterno,” which is currently sitting atop the New York Times Bestsellers List for the second week in a row. Paterno was once a golden god amongst college football. Then, of course, it was discovered that he had been involved in a complicated cover-up of sexual misdeeds by his defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Paterno died after being fired but before the NCAA issued a heavy fine and sanctions against the school that included the removal of Paterno’s wins going back to the time of the cover-up.
It’s a long, sad, complicated story, and one that Posnanski happened upon – he had been writing the book for a solid year before the scandal broke. The project is being shopped as either a feature film or a cable movie, but we could see this thing becoming a miniseries by the time it’s over (Sandusky, for his part, was found guilty of 45 counts of sexual abuse against young boys and will undoubtedly spend the rest of his life in jail).
For his part, Pacino has played both a football coach (in Oliver Stone‘s bombastic drama “Any Given Sunday“) and a number of real-life figures, including New York Times reporter Lowell Bergman (“The Insider“), undercover cop Frank Serpico (“Serpico“), McCarthy attorney Roy Cohn (“Angels in America“), and Dr. Jack Kevorkian (“You Don’t Know Jack“). And while he has certainly suffered a drop off in the quality of the roles he has chosen recently (“Jack and Jill” aside, of course), we have a feeling Pacino can knock this one out of the park.
Pacino’s manager, Rick Nicita, will produce the project, which is expected to get snapped up very quickly.