David Zurawik

HBO docudrama on Joe Paterno from Baltimore filmmaker Barry Levinson to premiere in April

Barry Levinson’s HBO film on former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno will debut April 7, the network announced.

Directed and executive produced by Levinson, the film will star Al Pacino as the legendary coach whose career ended in ignominy when his longtime assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was charged and ultimately convicted of sexually assaulting 10 boys over 15 years.


Sandusky was charged and arrested in 2011. The conviction came in 2012. He is in prison serving a sentence of 30 to 60 years.

According to HBO, the film centers on Paterno’s life in the aftermath of the Sandusky scandal that rocked the Penn State community.


“After becoming the winningest coach in college football history, Paterno’s legacy is challenged and he is forced to face questions of institutional failure in regard to the victims,” HBO press materials say.

The film also stars Riley Keough, Kathy Baker, Greg Grunberg, Annie Parisse and Larry Mitchell.

“Paterno” is a Barry Levinson/Tom Fontana production. That is the same team that made the NBC drama series “Homicide: life on the Street,” which was filmed in Baltimore.

in 2010, Levinson did another HBO docudrama with Pacino, “You Don’t Know Jack,” about Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a controversial advocate of physician assisted suicide.

I can’t wait to see how Levinson deals with the docu part of the Paterno story, because feelings still run very high in this part of the country about Sandusky’s crime and what Paterno knew or didn’t know. Some wonder how his longtime assistant could have allegedly committed some of the assaults in Penn State locker rooms without Paterno knowing.