November 19, 2008 Leave a comment
Since winning an Oscar for “A Beautiful Mind,” Ron Howard has been working on movies like “The Da Vinci Code,” “Cinderella Man,” “The Missing” and “Angels & Demons,” or as we like to call them, “Poo,” “Who Cares,” “Never Saw It” and “Are You Fricking Serious, That Book was Horrible…”
Meanwhile, the rumored Arrested Development movie is a lot like the proposed Cape Wind Project off the coast of Cape Cod; just about everyone agrees that it’s a good idea, but progress is imperceptibly slow…
However, one of Hollywood’s most legendary gingers is coming out with a movie next month that might just salvage his reputation in the ROTI offices: an adaptation of the Peter Morgan play Frost/Nixon.
The movie tells the tale of a series of momentous interviews with a post-resignation Richard Nixon conducted on a wing and prayer by British TV host David Frost, in which Nixon eventually came to accept (some) responsibility for Watergate and the coverup that followed. Stage veterans Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, a particular ROTI favorite, portray the principals.
The play (and ostensibly the movie) is a fascinating portrayal of the logistical end of the news business, but more than that, it’s a compelling take on the epic Greek tragedy that was Richard Nixon.
Variety quotes Brokaw at the premiere:
“I saw the play twice, and now the movie, and I will never figure Nixon out,” said Tom Brokaw, who covered the Watergate scandal as an NBC reporter. “He had demons that no one could plumb.”
(It’s pretty funny imagining Brokaw intoning “No one could plumb” in his drowsy baritone…)
The movie has actually been out in limited London runs for a while now, and a detailed plot summary is available on Wikipedia. This sounds like the best part by far:
Over the first four recording sessions (each at two hours in length covering Nixon’s Foreign Policy, Domestic Policy, a Biographical piece and Watergate), Frost is shown struggling to ask the planned “on the spot” questions to Nixon, with Nixon being able to take up much of the time for the sessions by making long speeches without enabling Frost to challenge him.
Frost’s editorial team appears to be breaking apart as the two American members (Zelnik and Reston) express anger that Nixon appears to be exonerating himself. Frost suggests that the four of them separate over a small break for Easter, after having been together almost daily for a month.
Four days before the final session on Watergate, Frost receives a phone call in his hotel room from a drunk Richard Nixon. Frost answers with “Cheeseburgers?” expecting a call asking about dinner arrangements. Nixon proceeds to bemoan his lot and suggests that, like Frost, people of a higher social class brought him down as they refused to accept him in a high position. Nixon tells Frost that they both know the final interview will make or break the other’s career. If Frost fails to implicate Nixon definitively in the Watergate scandal, then Frost will have allowed Nixon to revive his political career at the expense of Frost, who will have an unsellable series of interviews and be bankrupt.
And of course, Clint Howard is in it.