HBO announces premiere date, releases extended trailer for Joe Paterno movie

HBO announced the release date — April 7 — for its upcoming film about late Penn State coach Joe Paterno. And with the release date came an extended trailer for the project, which stars Academy Award-winning actor Al Pacino as Paterno.

The film, titled simply “Paterno,” focuses on the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal with its director, Barry Levinson, saying it “unfolds largely over a two-week period” after the news of the Sandusky indictment became public.

Sandusky, a longtime assistant coach under Paterno, was found guilty of 45 counts of child sexual abuse in June 2012. He coached under Paterno at Penn State from 1969 until his retirement in 1999.

Levinson said the film aims to have the viewer make their “own judgment” about what Paterno may or may not have known about Sandusky.

“‘Paterno’ is not a sprawling piece that spans years,” Levinson said last month in an HBO release. “It unfolds largely over a two-week period, when we watch the events play out. I’m not following an agenda or trying to tell the audience to take a certain side in regards to Coach Paterno. The film lays out the elements of the story and leaves you to make your own judgment. There are times when you may feel one way, and times when you may feel a totally different way, and I think that’s what makes the piece so compelling.

“Joe Paterno was known as an honorable man, an educator, a humanitarian — so trying to make sense out of what happened is, for me, the most fascinating aspect of the story. What did he understand? What did he not understand?”

There’s quite a bit to dissect from the trailer. It starts with Paterno becoming the all-time winningest coach in FBS history, but quickly transitions into the sequence of events surrounding Sandusky’s arrest. It also flashes back to the past and follows the reporting of Sara Ganim, who broke the story for the Harrisburg Patriot-News.

Al Pacino as Joe Paterno (HBO).

The trailer shows a brief look at the meeting Paterno had with former PSU assistant Mike McQueary, who has said on several occasions he witnessed Sandusky with a boy in the showers of the Penn State football building in 2002.

In grand jury testimony from winter 2011, Paterno testified McQueary told him he had seen Sandusky “fondling a young boy” in the showers and that it was “of a sexual nature.” Paterno said McQueary did not get into specifics. Paterno said he then notified then-athletic director Tim Curley about what McQueary told him. He has been criticized for not doing more.

In the Freeh Report, a Penn State-sanctioned investigation into the Sandusky situation released in July 2012, it is alleged that Paterno, along with former school president Graham Spaniel, Curley and former senior vice president for business and finance Gary Schultz were aware of complaints against Sandusky. In one instance, the Freeh Report accuses Spanier, Curley and Schultz of choosing not to report the allegation against Sandusky which was relayed from McQueary to Paterno.

The Paterno family has long argued that Joe did not have knowledge of Sandusky’s crimes.

– – – – – – –

Sam Cooper is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!