Home » HBO Development Slate: Al Pacino as Joe Paterno, Julia Roberts & More

HBO Development Slate: Al Pacino as Joe Paterno, Julia Roberts & More

by Jef Dinsmore
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dev-logoThis post readily proves that both big name talents and up-&-coming ones alike can find a place on HBO if the quality of the project is just right. Here is a look at the latest projects in development starting with two big names. 


  • Al Pacino Comes to HBO as Penn State’s Joe Paterno

 It is safe to say that actor Al Pacino likes to get deep into character and has proven that time and again even on HBO. You have seen his roles in the HBO Films’ presentations PHIL SPECTOR from 2013, as Jack Kervorkian in YOU DON’T KNOW JACK from 2010 and as Ray Cohn in ANGELS IN AMERICA, right? Well, he is finally taking on another rich role for an HBO work as his Joe Paterno story restarts. If you recall, we reported about this project being postponed back in 2014. At that time Brian DePalma was directing.

AlPandJoeP-300x210The story about the Penn State University football scandal that centered on winning Coach Joe Paterno and staffer Jerry Sandusky will now be helmed by Barry Levinson (executive producer of OZ and Pacino’s other HBO Films and director of WIZARD OF LIES). Levinson, Tom Fontana and Jason Sosnoff executive produce via  Levinson/Fontana alongside Wall Street producer Edward R. Pressman and Pacino’s manager Rick Nicita. The scribes on board are the original team of Debora Cahn, John C. Richards and David McKenna.

The story won’t focus on the entire legendary career of the winningest collegiate coach in history but pick up his story late in life which tells of his fall from grace when he was undone by revelations he and others in the football program were aware that former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was molesting children, and did little to stop it. It is undetermined at this time whether the original title of HAPPY VALLEY, the nickname of the region of Pennsylvania where the university sits, will still be used. More details as this work develops.

(Source: Deadline)   


  • HBO’s TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT Appeals to Julia Roberts

TodayWillBeDifferent-300x300Julia Roberts is also making a return to HBO. She last appeared in 2014 HBO Films’ THE NORMAL HEART as Dr. Emma Brookner. This time is will be playing Eleanor Flood from Maria Semple’s novel TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT. It is slated to be a limited series starring and produced by Roberts. The story is described thus: It follows Eleanor Flood who wakes up determined to be her best self, but then life happens. Taking place over a single day, it’s described as a rollicking portrait of one woman’s fumbling but valiant attempt to navigate the knotty perils and sly grace of modern life.

That sounds like just any lady’s life today, but since it comes from a best-selling book the story must be good. It is said that multiple scripts will be generated to flesh out the story that at this time has not defined how many episodes though it will be a limited series, which is a popular format for HBO lately coming off THE NIGHT OF and BIG LITTLE LIES for example. The work is under development via Annapurna Television trough Roberts’ Red One banner. More details on the work and it’s source material as it goes forward.

(Source: Deadline


  • EUPHORIA Teen Drama Developing For HBO

This is going to be a U. S. remake of a 2012 Israeli series. Helming the adaptation is Sam Levinson (writer for WIZARD OF LIES & son of Barry L.) & Ron Leshem, Daphna Levin and Tmira Yardeni who created the original ten-episode series. EUPHORIA explores one look at the teen scene in the modern world as it follows a group of high school students as they attempt to cope through drugs, sex and violence in an effort to make sense of an uncertain future.Euphoria-300x212

No specifics on casting at this time but as regards to the names mentioned above but Leshem wrote and Levin directed the original telling. Whether or not, as producers here they retool the exact same scripts to America or capitalize on the same themes but create different scenarios for HBO’s version is unclear. The Israeli series story was based on a true event of the lives of teens in the aftermath of a dance club shooting.

That all too relevant story would, unfortunately, fit in America’s landscape. We will await how this story pans out and report again.  

(Source: Deadline)  


  • BROWN GIRLS In The Works for HBOBrownGirls-300x153

It seems that Lena Dunham’s GIRLS is quickly replaced. In the works is BROWN GIRLS. So move over Issa Rae you are not the only black chick on HBO. That is assuming that the project in question gets a favorable final approval from the network.

Just like INSECURE and HIGH MAINTENANCE, this concept will also be adapted from a Web series. Writer Fatimah Asghar and director Sam Bailey have fashioned a story around two gay girls of color living large in Chicago that has turned to a quick success as it only started up in February of this year. The work stars Nabila Hossain as a Pakistani-American writer and Sonia Denis as a musician and BFF. It is implied that this duo will continue their roles in the HBO version. It was noted by the creators that even though HBO will be throwing more money at them than they are used to the series will still carry a “gritty” feel and not a “smooth, flashy” one.

HBOWatch will take a peek at the web series at a later date as this project develops.   

(Source: A.V. Club)


  • SPITTING IMAGE Returns; This time on HBO?

SpittingImagepuppets-300x176The satirical show called SPITTING IMAGE was an antic cut-up of the political scene on British airwaves twenty years ago featuring very stylized puppetry playing out the characters. It ran from 1984 to 1996 and featured politicos and celebrities of the day.

Now, just wrap your mind the current political scene and you can only imagine. The time is ripe for such satire an HBO wants in on more of it. Or does it? This glaring comment from sources state the following: However, HBO has denied this, a spokesperson saying:

“The Spitting Image project has no connection whatsoever to HBO.”

So is it in or out? Is it a secret project? It seems a silly one to keep secret…unless John Stewart is involved. Don’t forget his original concept fell through and he still has a development deal and producing and writing an American update to SPITTING IMAGE could be up his alley. We will have to see if anything is official so stick with us.

(Source: Telegraph)

That is it from the development front for now. We will keep you posted.




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1 comment

The People's Joe April 4, 2018 - 9:34 am

Deep into character? Did they bother to consult with anyone who truly knew Joe? Doubtful. There is only one documentary ever created about the life and legacy of Joe Paterno. Perhaps watching would have given HBO and Pacino some perspective. https://vimeo.com/ondemand/thepeoplesjoe


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