In case you think I'm being insensitive about the horrifying allegations enveloping Penn State, I'm not.
I'm being realistic.
With a partner who graduated from what's now the university's law school, I'm even more saddened. Especially because an otherwise decent school will remain sullied for a long time to come.
But as the story grew more tawdry and gargantuan, I just had to switch to sanity-preservation mode.
So I did what they're no doubt doing in my former stomping grounds (Hollywood): being a longtime movie and TV buff (I'm one of those people that hangs around until the very last credit appears), I started casting the movie in my head.
Not the cable version that'll be slapped together in time for the Super Bowl and doesn't matter; the one that's going to take some thought. The real one.
So here are my nominations for best potential stars.
Joe Paterno: The more I thought about it, the more James Gandolfini seems like the obvious choice to play JoePa. He's got the physique, the accent -- JoePa started out as a Brooklyn kid. And he may be itching to be remembered for someone other than Tony Soprano. Just slap a pompadour hairdo and a big pair o' glasses on him.
Former Penn State President Graham Spanier: A pleasant-looking, but not a memorable-looking guy. Just like Tom Hanks, who might crave a minor role, as long as he could have a bigger behind-the-scenes producing hand. Or Richard Gere.
Assistant Coach Mike McQueary (on leave): The person needs to have red hair, so with a good rug, it could be just about anyone. But if it were the capable Paul Bettany from A Beautiful Mind, or Ewan McGregor, the wig might not be necessary.
Jerry Sandusky: Another nondescript face, but guy's got to be tall because he started out as a football player. William Hurt tops my list. With James Woods, Bruce Willis, Ted Danson, maybe even Clooney for your consideration. Or Mad Men's John Slattery as the really wild card.
Former DA Ray Gricar: The district attorney in the PA county where Penn State is located. He went missing and was never found. Though no definitive connection's been established, see why he could be added to the mix for even more intrigue. Tommy Lee Jones?
Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly: No doubt about it: Dianne Wiest. She played a DA in Law & Order; she'd be a natural.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett: The late Bill Bixby actually played a guy named Tom Corbett in The Courtship of Eddie's Father.
Seriously, I'm having a tougher time with this one. Maybe Alec Baldwin, who has a similar build, but might not be interested in such a small role. Or character actors David Strathairn or Dann Florek.
Location: I could see where filming on the State College campus would rekindle emotions. Use another university or build a set, if need be. But generic shots could still be filmed around town, relatively cheaply.
Screenplay: What screenplay would be complete without the deft input of Mr. Friday Night Lights, Buzz Bissinger?
Director: In my opinion, to keep it on an even keel, it would be nice if Oliver Stone or Michael Bay didn't get their hands on it. Clint Eastwood? Capote's Bennett Miller? Harvey Weinstein as producer? Or Tom Hanks, who to me is a much-more talented producer than actor?
Suggestions? Send 'em to me or Jerry Bruckheimer. Just kidding.
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