With a whole new, utterly bizarre scandal brewing in college football as I type this, I'm not as stunned by this news I'd normally be. Al Pacino to play Joe Paterno for his SCARFACE/CARLITO'S WAY director Brian De Palma? Sure. Why not.
As a hardcore De Palma-phile, I'm thrilled with anything that gets him back behind the camera (especially after he departed Jason Statham's upcoming HEAT), and if this turns into a mutability-of-truth narrative, it'll obviously be right in his wheelhouse. But it's far too early to speculate. Right now, here's what we know (per Deadline): the tentative title of the film is HAPPY VALLEY, producer Edward R. Pressman has optioned Joe Posnanski's PATERNO (which the sportswriter began writing long before the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke), and Dave McKenna (AMERICAN HISTORY X) is in talks to write the script. Pressman says he "can't think of a better duo to tell this story of a complex, intensely righteous man who was brought down by his own tragic flaw."
This is exceptionally tricky material, if only because we'll probably never know exactly how much Paterno knew, and how far he went to protect himself/the football program (they were one and the same). I'm morbidly curious as to who will play Sandusky, the former Penn State defensive coordinator who is currently serving a thirty-to-sixty-year prison sentence after being found guilty on forty-five counts of child molestation. Most of all, I can't wait to see how De Palma and McKenna shape the narrative. This will likely be a very controversial film.
De Palma's latest film, PASSION, is scheduled for a 2013 release.