ISBN 13: 9780230704022


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9780230704022: Frost/Nixon

Following the resounding success of the eponymous West End and Broadway hit play, Frost/Nixon tells the extraordinary story of how Sir David Frost pursued and landed the biggest fish of his career--and how the series drew larger audiences than any news interview ever had in the United States, before being shown all over the world.

This is Frost's absorbing story of his pursuit of Richard Nixon, and is no less revealing of his own toughness and pertinacity than of the ex-President's elusiveness. Frost's encounters with such figures as Swifty Lazar, Ron Ziegler, potential sponsors, and Nixon as negotiator are nothing short of hilarious, and his insight into the taping of the programs themselves is fascinating.

Frost/Nixon provides the authoritative account of the only public trial that Nixon would ever have, and a revelation of the man's character as it appeared in the stress of eleven grueling sessions before the cameras. Including historical perspective and transcripts of the edited interviews, this is the story of Sir David Frost's quest to produce one of the most dramatic pieces of television ever broadcast, described by commentators at the time as "a catharsis" for the American people.

Questions for Sir David Frost It must have been an extraordinary experience when you went to see Frost/Nixon the play for the first time. How did it feel?

Frost: It was indeed a unique experience. But after about 20 minutes, I stopped thinking of Michael Sheen as "me" and more as "the Frost character." That was because I know and care about the underlying material so much and was concerned to see how that was depicted.

When I interviewed Michael in December 2006, shortly after the Broadway production and the film had been announced, Michael said, "Do you realise? I'm going to be playing David Frost for the next year?" "That's a coincidence," I said, "so am I!" When the producers of Frost/Nixon came to you for permission to adapt these events from your life into a play, they asked for complete editorial control over the story, which you say you hesitated before granting. That same control, of course, was one of the crucial agreements with Richard Nixon that gave your interviews such drama and importance. What was it like to grant the producers the same open-ended permission that Nixon had once given you?

Frost: You are quite right--the editorial control that we had during the Nixon Interviews was absolutely essential. Essential for ensuring that the most important material was all included, and essential for the credibility of the interviews. As I describe in the book, the moment that Nixon's agent, Swifty Lazar, told me that his client had no problem with my having editorial control, that was a great relief, and indeed an extremely pleasant surprise. Swifty Lazar explained that Nixon was also aware of the need for the interviews to have complete credibility. Indeed during the interviews he went further and said that he regarded himself to be speaking under oath throughout the interviews.

I suppose that the editorial control that I granted to Peter Morgan and Matthew Byam-Shaw for the play was somewhat different. I was in a sense giving them the right to fictionalise certain scenes--hopefully as few as possible--in the course of producing the play. There could never be any fictionalising in editing the Nixon Interviews because we were dealing solely with Nixon's own words, spoken by him. Why do you think Nixon thought it was in his interest to participate in a public interrogation he had little control over?

Frost: Richard Nixon often referred to "the power of television." When Jimmy Carter, who was President at the time the interviews were being taped, announced a fireside chat from the Oval Office, Nixon approved and said, "It's the tube. That's what matters. It's the tube." I think he hoped in this case that "the tube" would, in some way, exonerate him.

The fact that I had not been on the nightly news every night of his Watergate ordeal may have made him think that I would be more independent or open-minded, and he may not have been wholly aware of some of the heavyweight interviews I had conducted in America and the UK.

I think he was also in a state of some financial insecurity, not knowing for example how many of the people who were serving prison sentences for following his instructions might sue him when they were released. Much of the drama of the interviews comes from this strange relationship at the heart of it: on one hand, you and Nixon were partners in producing this piece of televised theater, on the other you were adversaries, nearly prosecutor and defendant at times. Can you describe what it was like to negotiate that relationship in real time, once the interviews began?

Frost: The tone of the relationship was affected by whatever the current topic of that day’s interview. On the first day of Watergate, we were indeed prosecutor and defendant, but when we were discussing the breakthrough to China, we were more like Johnson and Boswell. Once the arrangements were made and the interviews were underway, the arrangements faded into the background. What role do you think the interviews played in America's experience of Nixon and Watergate? Americans like trials--was it the trial of the president that we never had?

Frost: Yes, I think it was. Many commentators wrote that they felt the interviews--and particularly Watergate--were the catharsis that Americans needed after the traumatic events of 1973 and 1974.

A few months after the interviews, Richard Nixon would probably have said that he regretted undertaking them because he admitted so much more in his mea culpa than he had planned to. However, even for Nixon, there was probably a longer term benefit, namely that he could not have returned to New York and "polite society" if he had never faced up to these issues in a forum which he did not control. You've interviewed President Bush, as you have every president since Nixon. Could you imagine that he (and Vice President Cheney) would consider sitting down for such a series of retrospective interviews once they are out of office? If they sat down with you, what questions would you most want to ask them?

Frost: I made a firm point with Nixon that he would not know any of the questions in advance, so I’m scarcely likely to reveal the questions I would ask President Bush and Vice President Cheney more than a year ahead! Is there one moment over any others that you particularly recall from the interviews?

Frost:On the first day of the Watergate interviews, Nixon had admitted nothing--not even mistakes. That session was a disaster for him. On the second day, we made progress and he admitted to mistakes. However, he had to go a lot further. I said to him, "Coming to the sheer substance--would you go further than 'mistakes'? The word that seems not enough for people to understand."

"Well, what word would you express?"

It was the most heart-stopping response I have ever had in my life. I had spent hours cross-examining Richard Nixon. Now he wanted me to testify for him as well. Yet, unless I was able to frame with precision what it was we wanted to hear form him, the moment would be lost, never to be recaptured. As a symbolic gesture, I picked up my clipboard from my lap, and tossed it onto the floor beside my chair...

As I tell in the book, I made my ad-lib statement of the three things that I felt the American people needed to hear, and the ensuing 20 minutes were the most intense I can ever remember as he addressed all three points in turn.

About the Author:

Sir David Frost is the only person to have interviewed the last seven Presidents of the United States and the last six prime ministers of Great Britain. He has been awarded all the major television awards including the Emmy Award (twice, for The David Frost Show) in the US and the BAFTA Fellowship in the UK, their highest honor. Often described as "a one-man conglomerate", Sir David has worked variously as an author, film and television producer, publisher, lecturer and impresario and co-founded two network companies in the United Kingdom, LWT and TV-am. Sir David is currently hosting Frost Over The World, his weekly current affairs programme for Al-jazeera English, as well as series for the BBC and ITV. He is also executive producing a remake of the film, The Dam Busters, with Peter Jackson and Universal. He lives in London, Hampshire and on British Airways.

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Frost, David
Editore: Pan Macmillan (2008)
ISBN 10: 0230704026 ISBN 13: 9780230704022
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Descrizione libro Pan Macmillan, 2008. Compact Disc. Condizione libro: Brand New. In Stock. Codice libro della libreria zk0230704026

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