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Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Posted by Geoff at 7:18 PM CDT
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Thursday, March 13, 2014




Posted by Geoff at 1:28 AM CDT
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Monday, January 27, 2014


Posted by Geoff at 7:44 PM CST
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Tuesday, January 21, 2014
'HAPPY VALLEY' DOC PREMIERES AT SUNDANCE
SCREEN DAILY: "TROUBLING" ; SALT LAKE TRIB: "LEAVES STOMACH IN KNOTS"


Amir Bar-Lev's documentary about the Penn State scandals premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday, with Jerry Sandusky's adopted son, Matt, who appears in the film, appearing at the fest in support of Bar-Lev and the film. A review by Screen Daily's David D'Arcy calls the film "troubling," and suggests that it "should get strong play on cable sport channels." The Salt Lake Tribune's Brennan Smith states that the doc "takes the viewer back to the first time the story broke in 2011, complete with a mix of emotions that leaves the stomach in knots for the entirety of the 100-minute film." Smith adds, "The narrative is less about Sandusky and more about a framing of American and sports culture, where distraction trumps all and serious issues are swept under the rug."

D'Arcy describes the way the film captures events as they unfold at Penn State:

"Bar-Lev watches the university community witness news of Sandusky’s 2012 conviction on multiple counts of sexual abuse. Soon head football coach [Joe] Paterno (Sandusky’s boss), is sacked, along with the university president and other officials. The youth response on campus is a riot in which news trucks are overturned and property is destroyed.

"The mob reaction to disturbing news is at the core of Bar-Lev’s film, in which football fever fuels group fenzy in Happy Valley. Critics of Joe Paterno (nicknamed ‘JoePa’) are insulted and threatened when they express concerns publicly, as police stand by. This is extreme football fervor. It would be hard to find a Catholic congregation in the US that rallied behind a bishop who turned the other way after seeing evidence of sexual abuse. Football, as we see, is another story.

"Football as religion is a truism in the US. In Bar-Lev’s film, football as identity and profit takes over. The university searches for life beyond the revered Paterno, who dies in 2012 of a cancer that’s diagnosed the day after his firing. A popular statue of Paterno – a bronze figure of sports kitsch that was a tourist destination – is destroyed by the university, which also expunges the former coach’s name from the university’s history, like that of a purged Soviet official under Stalin. As the crowds pour back into the football stadium, Penn State is busy marketing a cult of personality for its new coach.

"Bar Lev’s scenes of crowd melees are frightening, but his film contains intimate poignant testimony that is equally troubling. Jerry Sandusky’s stoic adopted son, Matt, tells a sad story of growing up in the squalid digs of a desperately poor family and gravitating toward a program for poor boys headed by the coach, who gave the children food, gifts, and mandated sex."


Posted by Geoff at 12:52 AM CST
Updated: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 5:13 PM CST
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013
'HAPPY VALLEY' DOC TO PREMIERE AT SUNDANCE
SHARES WORKING TITLE WITH UPCOMING DE PALMA/PACINO PATERNO FILM
The Sundance Film Festival this week announced its documentary premieres for its upcoming 2014 edition (January 16-26), and one of them is a film called Happy Valley, directed by Amir Bar-Lev, who also directed 2010's The Tillman Story. The Sundance description of Bar-Lev's Happy Valley is as follows: "The children of 'Happy Valley' were victimized for years, by a key member of the legendary Penn State college football program. But were Jerry Sandusky’s crimes an open secret? With rare access, director Amir Bar-Lev delves beneath the headlines to tell a modern American parable of guilt, redemption, and identity."

It appears that while Brian De Palma's film (also called Happy Valley) will focus on the life and career of Joe Paterno, Bar-Lev's documentary takes a head-on approach to the Sandusky scandal, and how it has affected the Penn State community. The News & Observer's Lewis Beale interviewed Bar-Lev this past April. Here's a passage in which they discuss Happy Valley:
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“I’m not interested in stories with very clear white hats and black hats,” says Bar-Lev. “Those stories just reassure me my values are all in place. I’m interested in stories that provoke thorny questions, and cause me to evaluate and poke and prod at my belief system. That’s what good documentary filmmaking does.”

And that’s a good reason why Bar-Lev’s next film, “Happy Valley,” is about the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal. But it’s not that Bar-Lev is particularly interested in Sandusky.

“I’m more interested in how we relate to Jerry Sandusky, the mythological nature of Sandusky and (former Penn State football coach) Joe Paterno,” he says. “We call the film ‘Happy Valley’ because we’re interested in how the town is reckoning with itself in the aftermath of the scandal.”

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(Thanks to Rado!)

Posted by Geoff at 5:25 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 5:27 PM CST
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013
MCKENNA STILL RESEARCHING 'HAPPY VALLEY'
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:

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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?”

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Posted by Geoff at 5:14 PM CST
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Wednesday, August 28, 2013
DE PALMA ON 'HAPPY VALLEY'
IDEA IS TO FAIRLY REPRESENT DIFFERING VIEWS ON WHAT HAPPENED
At last week's Summer Talks discussion at the Lincoln Center, our old friend Brett was in the audience, and got to ask Brian De Palma a question about Happy Valley. Here is my transcription of the exchange from the video of the event:

Brett: I know you’ve worked with Al Pacino in Scarface and Carlito’s Way, and as I understand, you’ll be working with him again in a new film about Joe Paterno. And I’m just curious, the first two being sort of tragic American stories, do you see your next film as like the completion of a trilogy of tragic American stories? And maybe, can you tell us a little bit more about this new production?

De Palma: Well, it’s indeed a tragic story, and it’s a part Al wants to play. I mean, that’s how it all started. You know, and it’s a great honor to direct Al. He’s, you know, one of the greatest actors of his generation. So, in order to tell it in a fair way, I mean, it’s sort of like Lawrence Of Arabia. Everybody has a different view on what happened. So the idea of the script is to try and represent each view equally, and let the audience try to figure out what exactly happened and who’s culpable.

On August 29, Vanity Fair posted an interview with De Palma by Jason Guerrasio, who also asked De Palma about Happy Valley, and about working with Pacino again. "It’s a fantastic part for him," De Palma told Guerrasio. "It’s almost like a King Lear–type of part. When you look at something like Scarface you see the incredible performance he gives. It’s always exciting for a director to work with someone like that." Guerrasio then asked if he and Pacino had talked yet about how he's going to play Paterno. "Oh yeah," De Palma replied, "we've exchanged extensive e-mails. It has begun."


Posted by Geoff at 9:43 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 12:19 AM CDT
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Thursday, July 11, 2013


Posted by Geoff at 9:38 PM CDT
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013
SANDUSKY WILL BE MAJOR PART OF 'HAPPY VALLEY'
ED PRESSMAN: MCKENNA HAS COMPLETED A TREATMENT, DE PALMA EXCITED
Ed Pressman recently sat down with Huffington Post's Rob Taub to discuss Happy Valley, the Joe Paterno film he is producing for Brian De Palma to direct, with Al Pacino starring. Taub's article originally stated that Frank Langella will portray Jerry Sandusky, who will be a major part of the film. However, by the next day (June 19, 2013), the article had been revised and Langella's name had been removed. A source says that Langella is one of several actors currently under consideration for the part of Sandusky. In any case, Taub writes that Pressman "is a bit cagey" on what exactly the film will cover. "People know the horror of Sandusky's acts," writes Taub, "and are aware of Paterno's complicity, but based on my conversation with Pressman, this film will give audiences a clear understanding of Sandusky's rise to power in the Penn State program and exactly how it brought about Paterno's demise." Pressman is quoted as saying, "It's a complex story." Taub adds that David McKenna has completed a treatment for the film. Here is an excerpt from Taub's article that includes a Paterno anecdote uncovered by McKenna, as well as a quote from Pressman about De Palma:
-------------------------------------------------------

I have a few friends who were recruited by and played for Paterno, so when Pressman and I sat down recently to discuss the project we swapped JoePa stories. Screenwriter McKenna has compiled many anecdotes and tales about Paterno and one story that struck Pressman was when Paterno took his two daughters to a restaurant where one ordered a la carte while the other chose the buffet. The daughter who ordered a la carte reached over and took a pickle from her sister who had ordered buffet. This made Paterno so furious that he stormed out of the restaurant and had to drive his car around the block in order to calm down.

College coaches -- even the good ones -- have the power of third world despots and come to enjoy the authority and control provided by their positions. Pressman certainly understands this and describes Paterno's story as a "Greek tragedy." His past experience in handling films with scandalous characters has worked out well, as he proved with Reversal of Fortune, where they told Claus Von Bulow's story from the perspective of the victim -- his wife, Sunny. According to Pressman, the Paterno story poses similar challenges, but nothing they can't handle. "It's been many years since I've seen Brian (De Palma) so excited," said Pressman.


Posted by Geoff at 4:17 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, June 20, 2013 4:29 PM CDT
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Thursday, June 6, 2013


Posted by Geoff at 11:07 PM CDT
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