The late head football coach Joe Paterno has seen no mercy when it comes to being plastered all over the various media, but this weekend a different type of film crew will show up to State College to put his name to use.
Documentary filmmaker John Ziegler and a few of his colleagues will make the trek to Penn State this weekend to begin filming and interviewing for the first documentary to be made about the “truth” of the case involving former defensive coach Jerry Sandusky and all persons involved — including Paterno.
Ziegler, who has no affiliation with Penn State other than growing up in Pennsylvania and being a supporter of Paterno, said he can no longer watch the media cause injustice that has “completely abandoned any truth.”
Ziegler described his ultimate goal from the start to create a documentary — to be named “The Framing of Joe Paterno” — about Penn State using his former experience in documentaries about the media. In 2008, he created the documentary “Media Malpractice” about the media’s assistance in targeting vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, leading to her defeat.
“I’m a strange bird in Hollywood,” he said. “I actually care about the truth and justice.”
The first step toward creating the documentary, Ziegler said, was to launch a website, FramingPaterno.com, which launched this summer.
Next, Ziegler reached out to a professional polling company to conduct a scientific poll on the public’s perception of the case. One of the questions asked to the thousand people across the country showed that only 55 percent of Americans interviewed answered correctly that Paterno was not charged with sexual abuse. The full list of poll results can be viewed at FramingPaterno.com.
More recently, Ziegler and his colleague Matt Brush paired up to create a YouTube video that broadcasted how the media has portrayed Penn State and the “alleged cover up.”
“We were trying to expose how ridiculous and absurd the Freeh Report and the media perspective on the alleged cover up really is,” Ziegler said.
And the only way to do this, he said, was to create a humorously animated video that detailed exactly what would have happened according to the media.
Brush said he created the video in what he thought would take six hours in one week — some days spending a full 12 hours on the video.
A Bellefonte Area High School and Penn State graduate, Brush said he became interested in the project Ziegler started after watching his past documentaries.
Brush and Ziegler will both be in State College this weekend for the first football game. After receiving numerous donations from alumni and fans, they were given the funds to give out T-shirts to students to wear to the game.
The T-shirts that they will give out read, “Hey media we know the truth...”
Funds for all of the projects and initiatives have been donated from alumni and fans of Penn State and they continue to pour in through the site, Brush said.
Most recently, Ziegler has posted a challenge to any media outlet that will accept. If Tim Curley and Gary Schultz go to trial and are convicted of their charges, Ziegler will personally pay $10,000 to the outlet that accepted.
Former Athletic Director Curley and former Interim Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Schultz are charged with perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse relating to a 2001 incident involving Sandusky. If Curley and Schultz are not convicted of the charges, Ziegler has asked that the opposing media outlet write a major story about his website and the correct convictions or pay FramingPaterno.com $10,000 for a next project.
“[We are] convinced what [former assistant football coach] Mike McQueary says he saw now is not what he said he saw in 2001,” Brush said.