Al Pacino to play Joe Paterno in HBO film based on Penn State sex scandal

Legendary actor Al Pacino (right) will portray disgraced former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno in a special HBO film, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

An upcoming HBO film will relive the drama, tragedy, and outrage of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal, with one of the world’s most famous actors playing a lead role.

Al Pacino will portray former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno as he finds himself embroiled in a scandal that rocked the university and made international headlines, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The script for the still-untitled project, which will be directed and executive produced by Barry Levinson, focuses on the dramatic fall in Paterno’s reputation, from one of the most celebrated and successful coaches in college football history to an enabler who allowed his assistant coach to sexually abuse children.

Former FBI director Louis Freeh’s 2012 investigation found that Paterno and other university officials covered up Sandusky’s crimes, some of which took place on campus. Paterno was fired when the news broke in November 2011 and died two months later.  Sandusky was convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of child sex abuse.  Former Penn State president Graham B. Spanier, ex-athletic director Gary Schultz and onetime vice president Tim Curley were found guilty of endangering children, and all three were sentenced last week to jail time followed by house arrest

Paterno’s family has routinely denied allegations of a cover-up.

Pacino is famous for his work in the iconic Godfather trilogy as well as Serpico and Scent of a Woman, among others. He won an Emmy and Golden Globe Award for his portrayal of Dr. Jack Kevorkian in the HBO movie You Don’t Know Jack, which was also directed by Levinson.

Most recently, Levinson directed the HBO film The Wizard of Lies about the Bernie Madoff scandal, which starred Robert De Niro.