Al Pacino’s About to Ignore Sexual Assault

Al Pacino’s played a football coach before – Any Given Sunday, anyone? He’s going to be doing it again, this time as Joe Paterno for a Barry Levinson-helmed HBO movie.

People alternately worshiped “JoePa” as one of the greatest football coaches of all time and hated him for turning a blind eye to the despicable actions of Jerry Sandusky, his former assistant coach.

How disgusting was Sandusky? He was convicted of child molestation. Actually, “disgusting” doesn’t go far enough to describe what a shitbird he was.

According to Variety:

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

Paterno, who died very soon after his forced retirement/firing, was a very complicated man. There are tons of former Penn State players who worship the ground that he walked on – many people at the school still like to focus on the number of games he won over the number of children whose lives got screwed up beyond comprehension, thanks to that monster, Sandusky.

Pacino’s no stranger to playing vilified people – hell, he played the actual Devil once. Other roles have included Jack Kevorkian and Phil Spector – both of them on HBO, which is also producing this. Still, there are those out there who would claim that Paterno was worse than Ol’ Satan. It’s going to be fascinating to see what he brings to portraying Paterno.

While Levinson’s going to make it gritty and real, here’s the thing about playing a real person: You don’t know what was going on in their mind at the time. Perhaps Paterno was obsessed with coaching greatness. Maybe he didn’t know the true extent of what Sandusky did. It’s going to be hard to paint him with a broad brush. Though, by the time this thing ends, we’re likely going to be wondering if he also had some of the Devil in him.

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