Will 'Happy Valley,' Starring Al Pacino As Joe Paterno, Have To Change Its Name?

  on

There may be a Hollywood controversy brewing as there is a documentary in the works called "Happy Valley," which is reportedly the working title of a forthcoming movie on the twilight of former Pennsylvania State University football head coach Joe Paterno's career starring Al Pacino as Paterno.

The feature film, which producer Edward R. Pressman told the Associated Press will be directed by Brian De Palma, is going to be based on the Joe Posnanski biography "Paterno," and currently has the operating title of "Happy Valley," a  reference to State College, Pa., where Penn State is located, and the surrounding area.

The Posnanski book is based on the twilight of Paterno's career through his death and includes the stretch of 2011 during which the child sex abuse scandal involving Paterno's assistant Jerry Sandusky broke. Paterno's death and the Sandusky case presumably will be integral parts of "Happy Valley," though Pressman told the AP that the script and plot of the film are currently "under wraps."

But there may be some controversy over the use of the name "Happy Valley," however, as IMDB.com has collected details about a documentary with the same name, to be led by lesser-known director Amir Bar-Lev and producer John Battsek and released sometime in 2013.

And IndieWire reported back in May that A&E's documentary film division, A&E IndieFilms, was producing a documentary about the Jerry Sandusky scandal to be titled "Happy Valley," adding that production on the doc was slated to begin that month.

Jonathan Koch, the president of the documentary's production company Asylum Entertainment, reportedly spoke with IndieWire about the project for the article:

"When you are raised in Happy Valley, you feel as though nothing like this could ever happen there. This project has such gravity, importance, and significant personal meaning to me, and I am honored that this extraordinary team of filmmakers has joined me to tell the story."

It's not clear whether the producers or other people involved with the two films have been in contact with one another regarding the issue, but it could certainly become a sticking point if both movies move forward with the same title.

Former Penn State Head Coach Joe "JoePa" Paterno, who passed away Jan. 22, 2012, led a long career at Penn State, becoming the winningest coach in the history of college before being removed from the position during the NCAA football season as the graphic details of the child sex abuse scandal involving his assistant -- and Paterno's failure to put an end to it -- emerged.

Join the Discussion