EXCLUSIVE: The Scarface team of director Brian De Palma and Al Pacino are re-teaming for Happy Valley, the working title of a film that will tell the story of Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno. Paterno’s legend was undone by revelations he and others in the football program were aware that former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was molesting children, and did little to stop it, supposedly fearing bad publicity for the powerhouse gridiron program they presided over. Wall Street producer Edward R. Pressman has optioned the bestselling book Paterno by Joe Posnanski. Dave McKenna (American History X and Blow) is making a deal to write the script. The Edward R. Pressman Film Corporation is backing the project.
Pacino became attached to play Paterno when a package including the book was shopped by ICM last fall. Pressman will produce with Pacino’s manager, Rick Nicita, who was part of that original package. They are keeping a somewhat low profile on the focus of the film for now. “Happy Valley reunites the Scarface and Carlito’s Way team of De Palma & Pacino for the third time and I 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,” said Pressman in confirming the deal to Deadline.
Paterno’s fall from grace was Shakespearean and when he died shortly after his firing, many felt it was from a broken heart as much as cancer. He was in the twilight of a coaching career that left him the winningest coach in college football history, an iconic and beloved campus figure. Until his former defensive coordinator Sandusky was revealed to be a prolific pedophile, something that Paterno had been told about. While he informed an administrator, they did not call police, even after a graduate assistant and future assistant coach witnessed Sandusky in an encounter that looked like an act of sodomy with a child in the locker room showers. Read More »
UPDATE: Rarely have I gotten so many emails on a story that has struck a nerve among former students of Penn State. Some claiming to have clout in Hollywood say they will try to squash this project, and others are critical of me and defensive of the beloved Paterno, claiming he got a raw deal. I can’t imagine these apologists have kids. The idea that nobody acted seriously on information given by grad assistant and later assistant coach Mike McQueary that could have stopped a predator convicted on dozens of counts of molesting vulnerable children is unconscionable. Paterno defenders say that McQueary was vague in describing what he saw, but I fall on the side of those who feel that Paterno was so powerful at Penn State that he could have stopped this in its tracks had he chosen to follow up, or even if he had dialed three numbers: 911. McQueary certainly wasn’t vague in his testimony at Sandusky’s trial, saying he was sure he had stumbled upon Sandusky engaging in a sexual act with an underage boy. When I think of great college coaches, I wonder: what would someone like Bobby Knight have done if given the same information?
The administration at Penn State chose to protect its cherished powerhouse and lucrative football program, and went against the contract that any institution of higher learning has, which is to protect the young and vulnerable. The idea that this just somehow happened, and nobody but Sandusky was to blame, is something I will never embrace. Had that been the case, I doubt the university would have fired Paterno and later torn down his statue, or that the NCAA would have leveled devastating sanctions against the football program at the expense of current players who had absolutely nothing to do with any of this and who didn’t deserve punishment that was delivered to send a clear message about prioritizing what is important. Regretfully, that is Paterno’s enduring legacy now. But keep the emails coming!
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, FRIDAY 5:30 PM: ICM Partners next week will be taking a package for a movie about former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, with Al Pacino attached to play the man called JoePa by most students at Happy Valley. The package will be built around Joe Posnanski’s biography Paterno, which is now atop The New York Times Bestseller List in its second week. Pacino’s manager, Rick Nicita, will produce.
The narrative arc of the movie that will be shopped is obvious. A man becomes the winningest coach in college football history and builds a powerhouse football program that turns him into a campus deity. When his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky is revealed to be a pedophile and it comes out Paterno was told and helped hide the scandal, the coach was summarily fired. He died shortly after of cancer — and many feel of a broken heart — and the school had little choice but to raze a fabled statue of Paterno just as the NCAA dropped the hammer with sanctions against the school that included removal of Paterno’s wins going back to the cover-up. Sandusky was found guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse against young boys and is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Al Pacino has returned to ICM Partners, rejoining the agency almost exactly a year after he left to join CAA. Pacino’s exit came right after the agency restructured and longtime head Jeff Berg left to start the agency Resolution. Berg had been part of the team that repped Pacino, along with John Burnham and Adam Schweitzer. They signed the iconic actor after his agent Rick Nicita left to join Morgan Creek, prompting Pacino to end a 22-year run at CAA. ICM Partners has settled down under its new structure and Burnham and Schweitzer have gotten Pacino back. Nicita is his manager. Pacino is involved in many of the same projects, including a date to play the late Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno in the Edward R. Pressman-produced Brian DePalma-directed Happy Valley, a film about how Paterno’s rep as college’s winningest coach was tarnished by a scandal in which his former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was accused of and eventually convicted of child molestation perpetrated under the noses of athletic department heads that included Paterno. Pacino also stars as a decadent rocker in the Dan Fogelman-directed Imagine, and plays the title character in the David Gordon Green-directed Manglehorn.
RELATED: Al Pacino Returns To CAA
EXCLUSIVE: Todd Hoffman, who at ICM Partners built a strong business repping writers as well as intellectual property storehouses like The New York Times, 60 Minutes and New York magazine, has launched the management/production company Storied Media Group. Hoffman, who left ICM over the summer after a long run there, brings with him a stable of writer clients that include Emmy-winning Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, Nebraska co-writer Bob Nelson, Moneyball‘s Stan Chervin, playwright-writer-director Stephen Belber (Management), Girl In Progress scribe Hiram Martinez and AD Jeffrey Lynch. He also brings with him the above-mentioned publications as well as 60 Minutes Sports, Public Radio International, The McClatchy Company and Say Media. The idea behind the latter is to make outlets like NYT, 60 Minutes and New York magazine’s partners in option deals that are made for content originated by the publications. Read More »
Todd Hoffman joined BWCS in 2000 before that agency was acquired by ICM Partners. Now he is leaving to open a new management and production company. His transition will take place over the rest of the summer, and ICM Partners will continue to work with him. Among Hoffman’s clients in the New York Times, for which he has handled several deals, and he also repped the Joe Paterno movie deal that Brian De Palma is developing with Al Pacino playing the former Penn State football coach whose legacy was tarnished by the Jerry Sandusky pedophile scandal.
First Jack Kevorkian, then Phil Spector. (Next: Joe Paterno.) Al Pacino and his career choices of late got the SNL treatment Saturday night:
Today‘s Matt Lauer this morning interviewed filmmaker John Ziegler, who has spent a year poring through evidence in the Penn State pedophile scandal to make a documentary he hopes will clear the name of the late legendary head coach Joe Paterno. Now, Paterno’s only alleged transgression was not being aggressive when a graduate assistant (who’d later become a coach) brought to his attention an “encounter” in the football showers between former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and an underage boy that sounded like molestation. We’ve written numerous stories on the subject, breaking stories about a feature film in the works that will likely re-team Scarface director Brian De Palma and Al Pacino for Happy Valley. That is the working title of a film based on Paterno, the book written by Joe Posnanski. Paterno was unceremoniously fired after the scandal shocked the nation, and the NCAA took unprecedented actions against the school, including stripping the coach of the distinction of being the winning-est major college football coach in history. All for the failure of Paterno and university higher-ups to do next to nothing to stop Sandusky, supposedly fearing bad publicity for the powerhouse gridiron program they presided over. Read More »
NBC’s Today show on Monday plans to show excerpts from interviews with former Penn State University assistant football coach and convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky. “The former longtime defensive coordinator will describe what he says happened on the campus, and what he thinks of whistleblower Mike McQueary and late head coach Joe Paterno,” according to Reuters. Sandusky is serving a prison sentence of 30 to 60 years for his conviction on 45 sex abuse charges involving young boys over a period of 45 years. Filmmaker John Ziegler, who is working on a documentary called The Framing of Joe Paterno, interviewed Sandusky earlier this month in person and via telephone. He’s expected to appear on Monday’s show.
EXCLUSIVE: WWE Studios, producer Edward R. Pressman and Jason Blum’s Blum-Hanson-Allen Films are getting into the comedy game. The trio is developing Cruisin’ For A Brusin’, an action comedy to be written and directed by Adam Bhala Lough. It focuses on two rule-breaking ex-cops who get back together to take revenge on the crooks and corrupt senator who murdered their mentor. “As we continue to seek out key creative and strategic partnerships to broaden our release slate, the opportunity for WWE Studios to work with producers like Ed Pressman and Jason Blum, and their talented executive teams, was a natural fit for us,” WWE Studios president Michael Luisi said. Pressman, Scott Hanson and Luisi will serve as producers on Cruisin For A Bruisin’. Jason Blum, Jon Allen, and Pressman Films’ COO Jon Katz will executive producers. Read More »
I am endlessly fascinated by the number of artists who damage their careers with dumb, self-important expressions of thought on Twitter, Facebook and other viral outlets. You don’t have to be Jack Kevorkian to see that the misguided need to service ego with viral expression is becoming a fantastic way to attempt career suicide. This week alone, we’ve seen Two And A Half Men’s Angus T. Jones flat-line his professional future like he was drinking tiger blood, after condemning as “filth” the show that pays him over $8 million a year. He did this in a taped testimonial for something called the Forerunner Christian Church.
Then, writer-director James Gunn found himself hoping Marvel won’t fire him from its next big superhero franchise Guardians Of The Galaxy because obscure bloggers dredged up a two-year old Tumblr blog post Gunn wrote in jest. In it, he described in detail which superheroes he would most like to bed, mixing in homophobic references for good measure. Finally, British actor Jason Flemyng, most often seen in films directed by Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn, got into a playful conversation with some website guys with a camera-phone. As he cagily parried a question on whether Vaughn might direct the next Star Wars and hire him as an actor, Flemyng might have validated all the speculation. Or did he?
Celebrities have been strung up forever for saying dumb things in interviews while out promoting projects, but I find myself shaking my head when they fashion the noose themselves in web postings delivered when they have nothing to gain. Maybe it’s because I push words around for a living and maybe it’s because I’m lazy, but if I wasn’t being paid to write, I wouldn’t scribble a grocery list. For the life of me, I just don’t get the obsession with Twitter, Facebook and these other viral forms that celebs use to validate and sometimes snare themselves. I was taught long ago that it is fine to write stuff while your emotions are high and when you are riled up, but you should never publish until you’ve stepped away and taken the opportunity to consider all the angles, the potential for shrapnel, and consider the people your words might offend or alienate. I did find it interesting to observe this week’s blowback from celebs who didn’t do that. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Iconic actor Al Pacino has rejoined CAA. Pacino, who’d been repped at that agency for around 22 years by Rick Nicita, leaves ICM Partners. It would be difficult to bash that agency for the job it did with Pacino, who is in the middle of a precedent-setting salary run starring on Broadway in Glengarry Glen Ross. That now-famous deal paid $125,000 per week to Pacino at the start of its run, against 10% of gross; a deal extension has pushed that up to a potential 36% of gross that positions him to earn as much as $250,000 per week at the end of his run, a remarkable figure for a straight play. The agency also packaged the Phil Spector HBO pic that David Mamet wrote and directed, and which HBO broadcasts March 15 with Helen Mirren also starring. They also attached Pacino to play Penn State coach Joe Paterno in a movie about his rise and fall from grace, a film that is still taking form.
Now, Pacino’s rep team at ICM Partners was fractured recently with the exit of Jeff Berg, the former longtime head of that agency who was very involved in Pacino’s career. Pacino also rejoined Nicita after he left Morgan Creek and became a manager. So it’s a homecoming at CAA for the two of them.
Viewers tuning in for the Comedy Central roast of Roseanne Barr will not see resident roaster Jeffrey Ross’ joke about the recent shooting at an Aurora, CO movie theater. The network will cut the quip, which was met with groans from the audience, from the version that hits the air on August 12.
In his schtick, Ross turned to fellow roaster Seth Green. “Congratulations”, Ross told red-haired Green, according to EW. “This is actually a really big night for you. You haven’t gotten this much attention since you shot all those people in Aurora”, a reference to the Aurora killer who also has red hair. “I’m kidding!” Ross continued. “You’re not like James Holmes. At least he’s doing something in a movie theater that people remember”. On Howard Stern’s radio show this morning, Ross said he knew that he was likely doing the joke for the live audience only and it won’t make it to air. Comedy Central is still deciding on his Jerry Sandusky pun. Ross, who came to the event dressed as late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, ended his roast with “Now I’m gonna take Seth Green and hit the showers”!
Some racy jokes from the roast will likely make it to the broadcast, like roast master Jane Lynch’s “Fuck Chick-Fil-A” line, which Comedy Central just released as a promo for the roast. Also released is a promo with Barr thanking “surprise” roaser, ex Tom Arnold.
Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: A&E IndieFilms, the feature production arm of the A&E Network, has partnered with Asylum Entertainment to make the feature documentary Happy Valley. It’s about the drama that rocked the Penn State University community after it was learned school officials covered up allegations that former Nittany Lions assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky allegedy abused a youth in the showers of the school locker room. The docu will be produced by Passion Pictures’ John Battsek, whose One Day In September won the Oscar, and director Amir Bar-Lev. They teamed previously with A&E IndieFilms on My Kid Could Paint That and the superb sports-themed expose The Tillman Story. Asylum produced The Kennedys. Bob DeBitetto, David McKillop and Molly Thompson will be exec producers for A&E IndieFilms. Asylum principals Jonathan Koch and Steve Michaels will produce with Battsek. Read More »
Online film investment site Slated announced today that they have helped raise financing for a modern retelling of Anton Chekov’s The Seagull and a follow-up to the Emmy-winning documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired. First announced at the Sundance Film Festival this year, Slated seeks to link up experienced and vetted filmmakers with investors to help indie movies secure financing. Read More »
Renowned music documentary filmmaker Malcolm Leo and veteran personal manager John Hartmann have secured an agreement to produce a feature length documentary on music icon Jerry Garcia. After a lengthy pursuit of the rights, Leo will direct and also produce with Hartmann. The Leo/Hartmann Productions pic will be built around a 3-hour conversation that Leo conducted with Garcia in 1987. The historic interview was shot on negative film with studio quality sound and lighting. The footage presents a compelling portrait of the cult hero at the height of his success. Leo intends to blend an unprecedented amount of never-before-seen performances, documentary footage, and rare home movies.
The project has great bonafides: Leo’s previous work includes films on Elvis Presley, Crosby Stills & Nash, and The Beach Boys. Hartmann, the brother of the late comedian Phil Hartmann, was formerly personal manager of Peter Paul & Mary, Crosby Stills & Nash, The Eagles, America, Poco, and others. The pair want a completed docu will be ready for release in the spring of 2012 and currently are finalizing financing and distribution with the help of Jeff Silberman of Century City law firm King Holmes Paterno & Berliner.
Leo/Hartmann provided a short film clip to the San Francisco Giants for Jerry Garcia Day last summer seen by 42,000 fans. The entire celebration was captured on film by co-producer Justin Kreutzmann and will be included in the Leo/Hartmann movie. The producers were given full access to film Annabelle Garcia, Jerry’s eldest daughter, throwing out the … Read More »
CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves this afternoon addressed what went down with Charlie Sheen on the CBS hit Two and a Half Men earlier this year by issuing this easily-understandable two-word assessment: “Shit happens.” Featured in conversation at the Hollywood Radio and Television Society Newsmaker Luncheon at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Moonves elaborated that what happened to the show was “unfortunate” and “wasn’t fun. There’s no good when there are lawyers involved with a television show.” But he is encouraged to find that Men’s ratings are up from what they were a year ago with Ashton Kutcher having replaced Sheen in the cast. He added, “I’m happy that Charlie has a show with a very good showrunner and a very good studio in Lionsgate. We wish him well. We’re more than happy with how well Ashton has done other than his comments about Penn State (condemning via Twitter the firing of head coach Joe Paterno). But I’m glad (Two and a Half Men) is a chapter that’s closing, and with these numbers I’m hoping this show will last for many, many years.” Moonves wouldn’t commit, however, to a multi-year renewal of the show going forward.
Read More »
Citing “allegations surrounding the Penn State Football program,” Cars.com has yanked its sponsorship from ESPN broadcasts of two upcoming Penn State football games, the Wall Street Journal reports. “As a proud, longtime supporter of ESPN College Football, it’s important to us that we’re building our brand and raising the visibility of our advertisers in a way that celebrates the sport, the dedication of its student athletes and the many reputable universities that field teams,” Cars.com said in a statement. Cars.com is a classified advertising venture under an umbrella known as Classified Ventures owned by the media companies Belo, Gannett, McClatchy, Tribune and Washington Post. The child sex-abuse scandal has resulted in the exits of Penn State president Graham Spanier and football Joe Paterno. Advertisers who’ve hitched their brands to athletes are especially skittish about scandals and eventually if not immediately sever the links.
Hollywood’s top legal sharks will try not to feed on one another this weekend when UCLA Law School presents “Superstar Dealmaking” for the 31st Entertainment Symposium March 2-3. Featured are panels and speeches on hot legal topics such as superstar deals and branding, litigation trends for the studio litigator and the talent litigator, digital rights management, new content delivery options, and my favorite, ethics (as if…) Sure, there’ll be Clint Eastwood and film critic Richard Schickel and SAG prez Alan Rosenberg. But the real draws are the well-known entertainment lawyers attending, including E. Barry Haldeman (Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaromes), Tom Hansen and Tom Hoberman (Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Warren & Richman), Alan Wertheimer (Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum & Morris), Ivy Kagan Bierman, (Loeb & Loeb), Ken Suddleson and James Nguyen (Foley & Lardner), Patty Glaser (Christensen, Glaser, Fink, Jacobs, Weil & Shapiro), Marty Singer (Lavely & Singer), Robert A. Darwell (Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton), Gary Stiffelman (Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca, Fischer, Gilbert-Lurie, Cook, Johnson, Lande & Wolf), Peter Paterno (King, Holmes, Paterno & Berliner), P. John Burke (Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld), Larry J. Ulman (Gibson Dunn & Crutcher).