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Al Pacino to play former Penn State coach Joe Paterno in new HBO movie

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Al Pacino is set to emulate yet another controversial figure. The veteran actor will be playing Joe Paterno, the former Penn State University football coach who became mired in the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal, in an upcoming HBO movie, Variety reports.

Paterno was a well-regarded college football coach. However, in 2011, it came to light that his assistant coach, Sandusky, was being accused of sexually abusing several underage children, a crime for which he was later convicted. According to a 2012 report, Paterno and other officials from the school were aware of the actions but did not act on them.

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

The film, which has not yet been named, marks the latest in a string of TV movies Pacino has done for HBO where he played real-life controversial figures. In 2010, he played the euthanasia advocate known as Dr. Death, Jack Kevorkian, in You Don’t Know Jack, and in 2013, he portrayed Phil Spector in the TV movie of the same name about the music mogul’s murder trial. In 2014, Pacino also worked with HBO on The Humbling, a comedy/drama about a stage actor who is slowly losing his mind.

But fear not, Pacino fans — it seems the actor will also be combining his ability to take on real-life personas with his mob boss acting roots in another upcoming project. In addition to this TV movie, along with several other projects in the works, Pacino has been tapped to play Jimmy Hoffa in the upcoming Martin Scorsese film The Irishman, for which Netflix has gained the rights. Also starring in that flick will be Robert De Niro, Bobby Cannavale, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel.

The Paterno film will be directed and executive produced by Barry Levinson, while Jason Sosnoff, Tom Fontana, Edward Pressman, Lindsay Sloane, and Rick Nicita will also serve as executive producers. It’s being written by Debora Cahn, John C. Richards, and David McKenna, and Sony Pictures Television will produce the film.

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Christine Persaud
Christine has decades of experience in trade and consumer journalism. While she started her career writing exclusively about…
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