HOPES TO TALK TO PATERNO FAMILY, VISIT SANDUSKY IN PRISON
Onward State's Jessica Tully got an update on Happy Valley from screenwriter David McKenna, who told her the film, which will be about the life of Joe Paterno (of which the Jerry Sandusky scandal will be a tragic part), is still in the research stage. McKenna visited State College back in February for initial research, and he tells Tully that he and others working on the project plan to go back there again closer to the start of production.
Tully writes, "The research phase has included searching Paterno archives at libraries, reading several books, and evaluating all the independent reports, such as the Freeh Report and the Paterno Report. While on his trip to State College in February, McKenna met with [Paterno author Joe] Posnanski, who gave him a two-day tour of the town; longtime assistant coach Dick Anderson, who was 'very gracious and informative;' and Scott Paterno, which was more of a 'get to know you' session rather than a gathering of information, McKenna said."
McKenna, who as a child had greatly admired Paterno, tells Tully, "This project is too important not to be as well informed as possible. Not unexpectedly, what I’ve found is there’s three sides to every story. There is no black and white. JoePa was a great, great man, who did so much good for a such a long period of time. But that greatness turned out to hurt him in the end because he set the bar so incredibly high in everything that he did. And that’s where the tragedy lies."
Here are the last few paragraphs of Tully's article:
McKenna said Jerry Sandusky will be a part of the movie, although he will only play a supporting role. The Sandusky scandal will be included, but the focus of the film will be on Paterno. McKenna doubts he will ever be able to talk to the Sandusky family, but he does wish to visit Sandusky in prison.
While he said he couldn’t talk specifically about what will be included in the film, McKenna said “the crazy thing” about Sandusky is how much good he did for kids. McKenna acknowledges he might be “crucified” for saying that, but he believes it’s the truth.
“Second Mile was a huge endeavor that raised hundreds of millions for disadvantaged kids,” McKenna said. “That’s what makes this scandal so sad and heartbreaking.”
On the other hand, McKenna said he hopes he will be able to talk extensively with the Paterno family. He believes the family will one day open themselves up to him and his Hollywood team, “once they see how fair we’ve been to Joe’s incredible legacy.”
McKenna said he will always have the highest respect for Paterno and his wife, Sue. One quote that McKenna often thinks about is when Paterno, who raised five kids in a modest home a few blocks from campus, told his children they can swim just as well in the community pool as a private one.
“They were on a first-name basis with everyone in town — Joe even knew the cheerleaders’ names. They built a library — giving $3 million of their own money,” McKenna said. “Their love and generosity inspires me as I raise my three children. Because that’s what life is all about, isn’t it?”