So, they’re making a movie about tragic figure Joe Paterno — the formerly beloved Penn State football coach who was fired after news broke that he helped cover up his colleague Jerry Sandusky‘s pedophilia. (Thankfully?) he succumbed to cancer before the NCAA removed all of his wins post-cover-up, and took away bowl games and scholarships. Some say his true cause of death was a broken heart. It’s a very uplifting story — and one that will soon star Hollywood legend Al Pacino. His Sandusky, however, is yet to be chosen.
I’m from the greater Philadelphia area, and can 100 percent confirm that the Penn State scandal was the most horrific and saddening thing that has happened to Philly’s notoriously faithful sports fans. We can forgive Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid‘s terrible, jail-ridden family life (as long as he wins), because his sons never actually killed or emotionally ruined anybody, and drug abuse is a horrible thing. (Plus, one of them just died, so.) Most of us can even accept Michael Vick (as long as he wins), despite the fact that he’s done truly horrific things that can never be unseen or forgotten. The man went to jail and filed for bankruptcy because of his actions — while NFL rapists and probable murderers tend to get off with a slap on the wrist. It’s not like I’d invite him to a barbecue, but I still think he has the right to play football unless he screws up again.
But what Sandusky did is uniquely horrific — and the decade-spanning coverup put the nail in his and Paterno’s public opinion coffin. (When you think about it, Penn State is like a microcosm of the Catholic Church.) Add death, Hollywood, and Al Pacino to this mess, and you’ve got the ingredients for a tasty Awards season soup. ICM Partners will take the package, which will be built around Joe Posnanski‘s New York Times bestselling biography Paterno, next week. Pacino’s manager Rick Nicita will produce. So, one essential question remains: Who will take on the thankless role of Sandusky?
Playing a real-life convicted child rapist would be a huge emotional undertaking for any sane person, but if the film is really, really good, it could lead to countless Award-nods. I mean, remember The Reader? She let hundreds of Jewish women burn to death, then won an Oscar. My colleague Kate Ward and I came up with a few names* in a super official, well-thought-out Hollywood.com short list email, but we’re open to suggestions:
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[PHOTO CREDIT: Wenn; Getty Images]