Al Pacino is once again portraying a controversial real life figure in an HBO film. After his turns as the infamous "Dr. Death" Jack Kevorkian in the 2010 film You Don't Know Jack and as music producer/convicted murderer Phil Spector in 2013's Phil Spector, the 77-year-old actor is now taking on the role of disgraced Penn State football coach Joe Paterno in HBO's Paterno. But despite Pacino's presence, the real star of the film may be Riley Keough, who portrays Sara Ganim, the journalist who broke the story of Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse scandal. That scandal, as you might recall, led to Paterno's firing for his role in covering up the abuse. But where is the real Sara Ganim from Paterno now?
The reporter, who is originally from Coral Springs, FL, attended college at Penn State University, where she majored in journalism. Prior to graduating in 2008, she worked as a reporter for the Center Daily Times, a daily newspaper that was based near the campus. It was there that Ganim first began investigating accusations of sexual assault made against former Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Ganim later began working for The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, PA, where she broke the story of a Grand Jury investigation of Sandusky in 2011. That exposé led to her winning the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting in 2012, making her, at 24, the third-youngest winner of the prestigious award, according to Poynter.
In 2012, Ganim left The Patriot-News to work for CNN as a correspondent, and that is where she remains today. According to CNN, the now-30-year-old is based in Washington, D.C. Ganim's Twitter account actually lists her location as New York City, but since she hasn't sent a tweet since 2015, it would seem that CNN's information is more up to date.
With Paterno, Ganim's career will certainly be in the spotlight. Recently, numerous high-profile sexual assault and harassment cases have exploded in the media, leading to the #MeToo and Time's Up movements that seek to change the culture and end the cycle of abuse. Some point to the Sandusky case and Ganim's work in bringing his abuses to light for laying the foundation for the current movement, but the reporter herself seems too humble to take the credit.
"I would say that the original movement that got everyone going about sexual assault was the Catholic Church, which was seven-eight years before (Sandusky)," Ganim told Deadline in a recent interview. "I think a combination of things over the years have opened up the conversation, this story being one of them."
Although Ganim had turned down many media projects related to the scandal over the years, she felt that the HBO film would do the story justice, and so she worked as a paid consultant during production of Paterno. "It is easy for people to forget about the victims," Ganim told PennLive. "The story is only important because of them. I think HBO recognized that. There is no story without the victims. This wasn't just about the community or the football team. This was about victims, first and foremost."
Ganim also told PennLive that the film isn't necessarily about her journalism work regarding Sandusky, but rather, it's about Paterno and what was going on with him at that time. "The story we (The Patriot-News) did is about Sandusky," Ganim said. "The movie is about Paterno. And the story of us getting the (Sandusky) story happens long before the time the movie is set."
After an incredible start to her journalistic career, winning the industry's most prestigious prize at the age of 24, Ganim has continued to pursue the truth while working for one of the world's largest news organizations; just recently, she covered headline-grabbers such as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's security detail abuses. At the rate she's going, another Pulitzer Prize definitely isn't out of the realm of possibility for Ganim.