Joe Paterno — played by Al Pacino
Yep, the coach from “Any Given Sunday” will reprise his silver screen coaching career. Al Pacino has accepted the challenge of playing the late legendary Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno. Can Michael Corleone, Tony Montana, Frank Serpico, and the weird, blind guy from “Scent of a Woman” pull it off? Time will tell.
Surprisingly, or maybe not, the first question everybody seems to be asking upon learning of this forthcoming production is, “Who’s going to play Sandusky?” I’ve been watching Twitter for perfect suggestions, but after seeing Henry Winkler and Max von Sydow, I decided to take matters into my own hands. (So to speak.) So, I’ll be presenting my choices for Jer and the other major characters below.
Hollywood.com is none too snarkily snotty in presenting this news (noose, maybe), for example: “…and the decade-spanning coverup [sic] put the nail in [Sandusky’s] and Paterno’s public opinion coffin. (When you think about it, Penn State is like a microcosm of the Catholic Church.)” ASSHOLES!
Some of the oblivious snorkels in LaLa Land have been referring to Joe as “Papa Joe” instead of “JoePa”. I wonder if that’s written into the script, which is supposed to be based on Joe Posnanski’s biography. Posnanski, of course, wouldn’t have made that error, although Louis Freeh might have. It led me to wondering about why the hell all the hoopla over a movie about a pizza franchiser until it finally dawned on me what they meant. Hey, at my age, I’m slow.
Aside from the obvious main villain, Sandusky, the rest of the cast also remains to be selected by whichever studio buys into the package being pitched by Pacino’s agency, ICM. I know about as much about how Hollywood works as Hollywood knows about JoePa, so your guess is as good as mine as to how this will all play out. Feel free to watch Entertainment Tonight or read Variety or whatever it takes to answer any questions you might have.
This Turkey will just take things as they come, unless they do something really cool like cast Sofía Vergara as Vicky Triponey or something. (After all, who’s going to buy a ticket to a movie without a hot chick or two?)
“No, I’m not going to tchoot you, Frank. Manolo! Tchoot that piece of chit.”
—Tony Montana, in Scarface
Nevertheless, it certainly is interesting to speculate. I mean, Pacino and Paterno — what do they have in common other than the big nose, their Italian heritage, and the first and last two letters of their surnames? Well, Joe was a master of the English language and had an Ivy League education. Al flunked out of high school, passing only English. Al grew up in the Bronx, while Joe grew up in Brooklyn. Joe settled down with Sue, while Al— well, he sowed his share of wild oats and never married. Joe wanted to be a lawyer; Al wanted to be an actor. Joe became a legendary coach. Al is now co-president of the Actors’ Studio, where he studied method acting prior to launching an equally legendary acting career. So, there are major differences between the two, yet there are some subtle similarities.
I wonder whether Al will be able to get the accent right. It is a serious Turkey hope that they get this thing right. Yeah, I know. Fat chance!
But we’re comedians around here, so we have to look for humor opportunities in a subject that has run the full gamut from the tragic to the purely bizarre. Let us put together part of the cast for the Hollywood wonks so they don’t have to work so hard having three-martini lunches at Spago. There, it is all about money; for us, it’s about having some fun. I’ll present my characters and we’ll see if you can come up with something better.
Without further ado, Turkey Central Casting presents its selections below.
Jerry Sandusky — played by George Kennedy
I’ve seen several tweets claiming that Henry Winkler (the erstwhile “Fonz”) bears an uncanny resemblance to Sandusky. Bull spheres! Not even close. Besides, Winkler is 5’6″ tall. For Sandusky, you need a big, burly guy. If George Kennedy wasn’t 87 years old, he would be the man for the role. You might remember him as the guy who played Petroni, the ground crew chief in “Airport.” Yeah, that was a long time ago, but this being The Nittany Turkey and I being the proprietor, I get to use my Turkey Time Machine to rectumfy some obvious temporal discrepancies. However, this is all about you. If you can cast a better likeness, body and face, than the stocky, 6’3″ Kennedy, tell me who that is. (In view of George’s age, at this point I’m leaning toward another big Irishman, Brian Dennehy, who is “only” 75.)
Sue Paterno — played by Anne Archer
Sue Paterno is obviously one of the main characters, having been Joe’s devoted wife for all those years when times were good and when times were lean. Sue is a strong woman who raised five kids and put up with Joe’s stubbornness, absence, and curmudgeonliness as life in the Paterno household proceeded apace. Anne Archer is my choice here, but she’ll have to lose that Limey accent. The Turkey Accent Machine can make it so. I chose Archer because of her performance of the beleaguered, yet always supportive and sympathetic wife in “Fatal Attraction”.
Graham Spanier — played by Donald Sutherland
Graham Spanier requires an actor who can portray someone whom you know is guilty, but he looks innocent as hell. He needs to have a convincing, look-you-straight-in-the-eye poker face which you can’t help but believe. We need someone distinguished, sixtyish, smooth and polished, yet with something disturbing that you can’t quite put your finger on. Someone quick witted, cool in a crisis, and always decisive. Someone a little crazy. Someone who flies under the radar, but pops up in odd places. With piercing gray eyes framed by somewhat evil eyebrows, Donald Sutherland answers this casting call with great enthusiasm. It’ll save him from doing more commercial voice-overs. We’ll work on the beard for you. Oh, yeah? Well, if not Donald, then who?
Tim Curley — played by Tim Robbins
To do a good Tim Curley, the actor who is selected must be able to play a tragic sycophant, a compliant pushover with a secret, which is what the media have made out Curley to be. I considered Chevy Chase, but there’s no comedic angle here at all. I turned to a man who played an excellent Andy Dufresne in “The Shawshank Redemption.” He was the veritable picture of uncomplaining obeisance and supplication. Thus, I settled on Tim Robbins because… I dunno. Besides, his name is Tim. I just think he’s a fit. And he got along well with Morgan Freeman, who someone on Twitter said should play Larry Johnson, Sr. You don’t agree with Tim Robbins? Then tell me who should get the role.
Gary Schultz — played by Jack Warden
OK, now, the next major player is Gary Schultz. Every time I see Schultz, I think of Jack Warden in “Shampoo”, the scene in which he walks by the pool house and sees Julie Christie and Warren Beatty spiritedly screwing on the floor, illuminated only by the light from the refrigerator whose door opened when Julie grabbed it for leverage. “Now that’s what I call fucking,” muttered Warden until his focus sharpened. It was then that he realized that it was his wife getting it on with her hairdresser, whom “Lester” (Jack Warden) thought was gay. Kind of reminds me of all the twists and turns this PSU thing has taken, tragically. Jack is dead, though. Who could we get to play Schultz who is still alive?
Mike McQueary — played by
O. J. Simpson (#2893642-32)
Of the characters I will cast here at Central Turkey Casting, the final one is Mike McQueary. Whoever gets the role must be tall, athletic, and capable of believable mendacity. (Is there a common theme here?) Well, folks, that’s not my idea — I am not calling either Spanier or McQueary liars — but I am imagining how Hollywood will handle this and I see villain written all over this role. Once again, this is a job for someone who can look you straight in the eye and lie to your face. Red hair is completely optional. Hollywood is make-believe. They can do anything they want, and in this case, they’ll be casting O.J. Simpson, athlete turned actor turned murderer turned armed robber turned jailbird for the McQueary role. What’s that you say? The skin complexions don’t match? Well, in politically correct Hollywood, that don’t mean shit. Better we should give a starving black actor the money than be historically accurate. Orenthal (#2893642-32, Nevada State Correctional) is our man.
Rip Engle — Played by Rodney Dangerfield?
With our main characters selected, we still have a veritable plethora of roles to be filled. Who should play Jay Paterno? Guido d’Elia? (I just threw that one in to see if you were awake. Hollywood won’t get down to the fine detail of the Penn State branding king and lifelong friend of “Papa Joe”. If they did, I’m thinking they should tap New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.) Fran Ganter, who delivered the fateful note to the Paternos on the Night of the Long Knives? Vicky Triponey? (I would seriously consider Rosie O’Donnell.) Mark Emmert? Rod Erickson? Karen Peetz? Lavon Chisley? Drew Astorino? Rip Engle?
Will this whole thing come off? Or will Pacino say, “I wanted to get out but they kept pulling me back in!!”? I suspect that it will come off and if so, I am hoping against hope that it is done well. Knowing Hollywood and the liberties it takes, I have my doubts that Penn State will be portrayed as a positive place. This isn’t going to be “Something for Joey”.
So, you do the casting. Who gets the roles? Is Pacino the right guy for the lead?
Jou wanna say hello to my leetle friend?