LOOKED AT IT SOMETIME AFTER DE PALMA HAD LEFT THE PROJECT
A couple of weeks ago, Business Insider's Jason Guerrasio spoke with Barry Levinson about Paterno, which he took on after Brian De Palma left the project (at that time, it was still called Happy Valley)...
Jason Guerrasio: Brian De Palma originally was doing this with Pacino. Did you take anything from their collaboration or did you start fresh?
Barry Levinson: Al told me he had been dying to do Paterno but that all didn't work out. And I said let me look at the stuff and basically we came back with a different take on it.
Guerrasio: I talked to De Palma back in 2013 and he said he was imagining Paterno as a King Lear character, it feels that wasn't the way you went.
Levinson: I mean you take a character like that I guess you could make that. But [De Palma] had a different take on it, completely. What we did takes place over a two-week period. You go from the highest high to the lowest low in two weeks. Because otherwise you would be back in the 1980s and '90s, you would be all over the place to hold the story together. Which you could do in some form, probably in a mini series. But in a two hour format, I thought we could get a lot out of it this way.
Guerrasio: It's a great jumping off point to tell the story. He becomes the winningest coach in college football history and then, what a week later —
Levinson: He won on a Saturday, winningest coach in the history of college football, the following Friday the Sandusky scandal begins. And literally, five days after that he's fired.
Guerrasio: Was the thinking also that with so much that has been written about Paterno over the years, on top of the documentary on the scandal itself, "Happy Valley," that there's a lot out there already. You can get away with just doing this pinnacle moment and not lose people.
Levinson: Yeah. The documentary covers a whole lot. We don't need to compete with all of that, but we can tell a separate story that almost nobody will know about. When you think about, one day there's an army of press outside his home and Paterno and his wife and the boys and daughter, everyone is like, "What happened?"