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Riley Keough To Play Sara Ganim In HBO’s Joe Paterno Movie

by Geoff Rushton

According to a report by Variety, actress Riley Keough will play reporter Sara Ganim in HBO’s upcoming movie about Joe Paterno, which stars Al Pacino as the late Penn State football coach.

Keough is best known for her co-starring role in “Mad Max: Fury Road” and as the lead in the television series “The Girlfriend Experience.”

Ganim is a former Harrisburg Patriot-News reporter who in 2011 was the first to report on a grand jury’s investigation of former Penn State football assistant and The Second Mile charity founder Jerry Sandusky for allegations of child sexual abuse. Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts related to child sexual abuse in 2012 and is serving a 30 to 60 year sentence while he continues to appeal. Ganim won a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage and now works at CNN.

Earlier this month it was reported that HBO had given the green-light to a new, as yet untitled film starring Pacino as Paterno, with Barry Levinson attached to direct.

Pacino was announced in late 2012 to star as Paterno in a film based on the Joe Posnanski biography “Paterno,” but in late 2014 HBO announced it was suspending the project because of budget issues.

The casting of a relatively high-profile actress to play Ganim is another indication that the film will focus on the Sandusky scandal. That was apparent when the film was announced last month with an official logline that reads, “After becoming the winningest coach in college football history, Joe Paterno is embroiled in Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal, challenging his legacy and forcing him to face questions of institutional failure on behalf of the victims.”

Screenwriter David McKenna told StateCollege.com and Onward State in interviews in 2013 that the film he was working on wasn’t entirely focused on the Sandusky scandal.

McKenna, who has penned scripts for films including “American History X,” is one of three reported screenwriters on the untitled project reported on Monday, along with Debora Cahn (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “The West Wing”) and John C. Richards (“Sahara, Nurse Betty”).

In addition to directing, Levinson will executive produce, along with Jason Sosnoff, Tom Fontana, Lindsay Sloane, Edward R. Pressman and Rick Nicita. Pressman and Nicita were executive producers on the original project announced in 2012. HBO will produce the film in association with Sony Pictures Television.

A report by ProjectCasting.com last week said that HBO was ramping up production and that the film will shoot in New York City from July through September. Grant Wilfley Casting was looking for men and women ages 18-25 to portray college students in the movie.

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