Frost/Nixon (2008) Script

NIXON ON TAPE: They'd better not push me on him, or I'll just kick them in the teeth on it.

NIXON AIDE: Well, I think, if they...

NIXON: . . .InternaI Revenue people that are kicking Billy Graham around is Rosenberg.

He is to be out.

I don't give a goddamn what the story is.

He went on teIevision.

I have not. I've already ordered Connally, we're going after the Chandlers, every one individually, collectively, their income taxes are starting this week.

Every one of those sons of bitches.

NlXON: Well, this is something that we can really hang Teddy or...

MAN: Yeah.

N IXON: ...or the Kennedy clan with.

I'm gonna want to put that in Colson's hands.

And we're gonna want to run with it.

NEWS REPORTER 1 : A controversial day in politics.

A man arrested trying to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee in Washington turns out to be an employee of President Richard Nixon's re-election campaign committee.

He is one of five persons surprised and arrested yesterday inside the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington.

And guess what else he is.

A consultant of President Richard Nixon's re-election campaign committee.

NEWS REPORTER 2: The trial started today at the federal courthouse for the five burglars caught breaking into the Democratic National Party headquarters.

CAMERAMAN : Stand by for camera.

MUDD: John Dean, the ex-White House Counsel, testified today that President Nixon knew about the Watergate cover-up.

DEAN: At one point in the conversation, I recall the President telling me to keep a good list of the press people giving us trouble because we will make life difficult for them after the election.

NEWS REPORTER 3: Dean read through a 245-page statement characterizing a president who was easily outraged over war protesters and political adversaries, and outlining a range of offenses, including wiretapping of newsmen, a Charles Colson plan to firebomb and burglarize the Brookings Institution, and spying on Senator Kennedy and other Democrats.

LAWYER: The misuse of power is the very essence of tyranny.

And consider, if you will, the frightening implications of that for a free society.

NEWS REPORTER 4: The President today accepted the resignation of three of his closest aides.

Out is H. R. Haldeman, Chief of Staff.

Also quitting under fire is John Ehrlichman.

Ehrlichman was a key political advisor.

NEWS REPORTER 5: Good morning. The Supreme Court has just ruled on the tapes controversy, and here is Carl Stern, who has that ruling.

It is a unanimous decision, Doug, eight to zero.

Justice Rehnquist took no part in the decision ordering the President of the United States to turn over the tapes.

(CROWD CHEERlNG)

It's an eight-to-zero unanimous opinion.

A White House aide told NBC News today that impeachment of the President by the full House of Representatives now is a virtual certainty.

These are, with no serious doubt, the last hours of the 37th presidency of the United States.

This is indeed an historic day, the only time a president has ever resigned from office in our nearly 200 years of history.

You see the White House there, and in the White House, in just a few moments now, President Nixon will be appearing before the people, perhaps for the last time as President of the United States.

WH lTE HOUSE DlRECTOR: 1 5 seconds, Mr. President.

Okay, that's five, four, three. . .

Good evening. This is the 37th time l have spoken to you from this office where so many decisions have been made that have shaped the history of our nation. l remember exactly where l was.

My father called. The phone rang, my father called and he said, "Turn on the TV right now. Richard Nixon's going down." l was at home with friends, and we were watching television at home.

We stayed up and, like everyone else, l'd been glued to the Select and Judiciary Committee hearings night after night.

And then finally, it had come to this.

Therefore, l shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.

But instead of the satisfaction l imagined l'd feel, l just got angrier and angrier, because there was no admission of guilt.

There was no apology.

Little did l know that l would one day be part of the team that would try and elicit that apology.

N lXON : To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. l have never been a quitter.

And that that team would be led by the most unlikely of white knights, a man with no political convictions whatsoever, a man who, as far as l know, had never even voted once in his life.

But he was a man who had one big advantage over the rest of us.

He understood television.

(FROST OVER AUSTRALlA THEME MUSlC PLAYlNG)

ANNOUNCER: And now, the host of Frost Over Australia, Mr. David Frost!

(CH UCKLES)

Thank you, thank you.

Hello. Good evening.

And with the eyes of the world focused on the White House, here in Australia, burglars have broken into a meat factory in Brisbane and stolen a ton of pork sausages.

(AU DlENCE LAUGH lNG)

The Queensland police are looking for men in a long, thin getaway car.

Now, my first guest tonight. . .

Well, we in the Nixon camp really didn't know that much about David Frost, other than he was a British talk show host with something of a playboy reputation.

He'd had a talk show here in the US that had won some awards but hadn't syndicated well and had been dropped by the network.

He ended up taking it down to Australia, which is, l believe, where he was when the President resigned.

FROST: Next week's guest will be Evonne Goolagong.

We'll see you then. God bless.

Great show, David. Thanks, Noah.

NOAH : Come and look at this.

Nixon leaving the White House.

NEWS REPORTER: A dark day for Richard Nixon, who has drawn crowds to the vast Ellipse south of the White House before.

What, this is live? Yeah.

NEWS REPORTER: But those were triumphs. This is not.

What time is it in Washington?

9:00 a. m.

Why didn't he wait? lt's 6:00 in the morning on the West Coast.

Half his audience is still asleep.

All right, you blokes, let's get the set broken down.

NEWS REPORTER: ...are witnesses to the saddest day in the life of Richard Nixon, his last moments as President of the United States, a moment unlike any other in the history of this country.

Richard Nixon, who goes now from the power of the presidency to a form of exile in California.

Find out the numbers for this, will you? Worldwide.

BRENNAN: I remember his face.

Staring out the window.

Down below him, a liberal America cheered, gloated.

Hippies, draft dodgers, dilettantes, the same people who'd spit on me when l got back from Vietnam.

They'd gotten rid of Richard Nixon, their bogeyman.

So what's so important that it couldn't wait, that it had to be today? l've had an idea, John, rather a bold idea for an interview.

Fish and chips, please.

And in a moment. . .

Well, it's too late now. lt's done. l've called his people. . .

You?

Beans, peas and lamb, please.

And made an offer.

Now, if the subject were to say yes, well, he's rather a big fish that swims in not-untricky waters.

So it goes without saying that l'd want a dear friend and the finest producer l know by my side.

So who is it?

Richard Nixon.

(LAUGHS) Richard Nixon?

Well, come on, don't look like that.

Well, how would you expect me to look? l spent yesterday evening watching you interview the Bee Gees.

Weren't they terrific?

Come on, John, we've done political interviews before.

So, okay, so what kind of interview?

A full, extensive look-back over his life, his presidency.

And?

And what? Come on, David.

Surely the only thing that would interest anyone about Richard Nixon would be a confession.

A full, no-holds-barred confession.

Well, we'll get that, too.

From Richard Nixon?

Come on, John.

Just think of the numbers it would get.

Do you know how many people watched his farewell speech in the White House?

Four hundred million.

But in the end, David heard nothing.

And soon after arriving in California, Nixon was rushed to hospital with an acute attack of phlebitis.

I think it was around this time that Gerald Ford, who was the new President, and who was desperate to move the agenda on from Watergate, gave Nixon a full, free and absolute pardon.

Now therefore, I, Gerald R. Ford, President of the United States, have granted, and by these presents do grant, a full, free and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States. lt meant that the man who had committed the greatest felony in American political history would never stand trial. lt was like he slipped out the back door.

A public opinion poll indicates a two-to-one disapproval of the pardoning of Richard Nixon.

CHANCELLOR: One telegram from Virginia said, "Roosevelt had his New Deal, "Truman had his Fair Deal, now Ford has his crooked deal."

There was no deal, period.

I don't think the truth will ever come out.

The American people need to know the truth, and I don't think it will ever now be fully known.


GAN NON : So how do we want to address the college protests?

Well, do we want to lift some quotes from the "stand up and be counted" speech in 1 970?

Sir? GAN NON : You know, maybe we're just better off using the whole Lincoln Memorial memo.

SAWYER: Just include the whole thing.

Mr. President, Swifty Lazar is here.

Okay. No, no, stick around.

You're gonna get a kick out of this.

This is my literary agent from Hollywood.

Hygiene obsessive.

Mr. President, good to see you.

Nice to see you.

These are folks helping me with my book.

Diane Sawyer, Frank Gannon, lrving Lazar.

Nice to meet you. Miss Sawyer.

Pleasure. Mr. Gannon.

Okay, that's it. l'll see you after lunch.

SWlFTY: So how you feeling, sir? l'm better, thank you. Though not yet well enough to golf, thank God. l despise that game. lmagine, six weeks out of office as President of the United States, and they'd have me putting in my hospital room.

Never retire, Mr. Lazar.

To me, the unhappiest people of the world are retired.

No purpose.

What makes life mean something is purpose.

A goal. A battle. A struggle.

Well, even if you don't win it.

When my doctor declared me unfit to give testimony in the Watergate trial, everybody thought l'd be relieved.

Well, they were wrong.

That was the lowest l got.

Well, if it's a challenge you want, here's one you might enjoy.

How to spend $2 million, 2.3 to be precise. lt's what l got for your memoirs.

Well, thank you.

Eh. . . lt might be a little short of what l wanted, but let me assure you, it's a whole lot more than they wanted.

That book is important to me. lt's probably the only chance l'm gonna get to put the record straight and remind people the Nixon years weren't all bad.

You know, if you're trying to put the record straight, l'd at least talk to him.

N lXON : Who?

David Frost. English talk show guy.

Why would l want to talk to David Frost?

Well, a while back, he wrote asking for an interview.

No.

Well, we didn't get back to him.

Frankly, we didn't find him appropriate.

Well, l thought that we were doing one with CBS.

We are. l just figured doing it with Frost would be a whole lot easier than doing it with Mike Wallace. lt would, but it would have a lot less, you know, credibility.

True, true. Could probably get more money.

Really? Look.

We'll always have 350 on the table from CBS.

But if l could get Frost to pay more and secure better terms, it might be a shame to pass. lt'd be interesting to know where he is right now.

We tied him to railway tracks, and he escaped.

We buried him alive, and he walked free.

Today we're lowering escape artist Derek Harrison into the water to see if he can miraculously cheat death once more.

Good evening, and welcome to Great Escapes.

My name is David Frost.

DlRECTOR: Okay, that is a cut.

Thank you. ln any deal, you need to know your opponent's breaking point.

To assess that, you might call them late at night or at the weekend. lf they take the call, you know they're desperate.

And from that moment on, you know you have the upper hand.

(PHON E RlNGlNG)

Hello?

Mr. Frost? Irving Lazar.

Who?

Swifty Lazar. l represent President Nixon.

What time is it?

Bad time?

(STUTTERlNG) No! Not at all.

l'm calling with regard to your request for an interview and to say, having considered it, my client is not necessarily opposed to the idea.

Really? Well, that's terrific news!

For God's sake.

SWlFTY: l got $500,000. ls that good?

Mr. President, it's a half a million dollars for a news interview. lt's unprecedented.

Yeah? Well, what's the catch?

With Frost? None. It'll be a big wet kiss.

This guy'll be so grateful to be getting it at all, he'll pitch puffballs all night and pay a half a million dollars for the privilege.

Well, you think you could get 550? l got 6.

BlRT: David, how could you have done that? What?

$600,000. That's a fortune.

200 on signature?

Don't worry about the money.

My God. Most Americans think he belongs in jail.

You're making him a rich man.

Plus, by outbidding them, you've already made enemies of the networks. They're just jealous.

They're already sounding off about checkbook journalism.

And if the networks are against you, syndication's always going to be a struggle.

No syndication, no advance sales.

No advance sales, no commercials.

No commercials, no revenue.

And here's the bigger question, why do it? You don't need it.

Your career's in great shape.

This will just spread you across three continents, jeopardize the other shows. lsn't it true that Channel Nine in Australia want you to do another season of your talk show for them?

Yes. And London, too?

Yes, but that would be London and Australia.

This would be. . . What?

You wouldn't understand, John.

You were never part of the show in New York, but it's indescribable.

Success in America is unlike success anywhere else.

And the emptiness when it's gone.

And the sickening thought that it may never come back.

You know, there's a restaurant in New York called Sardi's.

Ordinary mortals can't get a table.

John, the place was my canteen !

You know, l'd be happier if l heard some kind of vision that you had for this interview.

MAN : Excuse me, Mr. Frost. l'd heard you were going to be here.

Would you mind? Of course.

But l don't. l just hear a man doing it because it would create headlines or give him a place at the top table.

And that is what makes me nervous.

And you do nervous so beautifully, John.

"Hello, good evening and welcome."

(FROST LAUGHS) l don't actually say that.

Hello, Mr. Frost.

Champagne?

CAROLlN E: No, thank you.

FLlGHT ATTEN DANT: Another glass, sir?

You don't like champagne?

Not on airplanes.

Yes, it dehydrates one terribly.

The trick is to have a glass of water on the go, too.

Like the Viennese serve coffee.

Well, l've never been to Vienna.

Oh. Well, you'd like it. lt's like Paris without the French.

What's your name?

Caroline.

David.

Yes, l know. David Frost.

"Hello and good evening and welcome."

You know, l heard an interview with you recently on the radio.

You were giving it from the back of your Rolls-Royce.

Bentley.

On the phone.

They said that you were a person who defined the age we live in.

Really? Mmm.

You and Vidal Sassoon.

But what made you exceptional, they said, was that you were a person who had achieved great fame without possessing any discernible quality.

How kind. Mmm-hmm.

And that you fly around a great deal.

Well, that's true.

Why? l like to keep busy.

Why? l find it more interesting than keeping still.

You know, you have very sad eyes.

Do l? Mmm.

Has anyone told you that before?

No.

Are you a sad person?

Let's talk about you a little bit.

Of course, you feel more comfortable asking questions.

How right you are!

This is your captain speaking.

You may have noticed we've begun our final descent into Los Angeles.

If you could please return to your seats and fasten your seat belts, we'll be landing very shortly. Thank you.

CAROLlN E: So how about you? Where are you going?

To meet Richard Nixon.

Really?

You know, they say he has the most enormous head, but the sexiest voice.

Where is he now? ln some dark underground cave licking his wounds?

Actually, no. ln his rather smart beachside villa in California.

Really? Richard Nixon in a beachside villa?

How incongruous.

You can come if you'd like.

To meet Nixon?

Why not?

Are you sure?

You know, l would love that.

PlLOT: Cabin crew, please prepare for arrival.

Well, l'll get my office to call you first thing in the morning and send a car with a phone.

Oh.

He did, too. Money no object.

Everything glittered and was golden.

Well, on the outside.

Of course, what l didn't know was that in the meantime, he'd gone to all the major networks to try and get interest in the interviews. l'm sorry, David, but we have a policy of not paying for a news interview.

Look, we love your work as an entertainer.

That Guinness show?

Love it. You're a funny guy.

But an interview like this?

You're asking us to pay a British talk show host to interview an American president with absolutely no editorial controls whatsoever in return?

Well, you can't say it's not a fresh approach. l know you're very busy. l'm not gonna keep you from it.

Thank you for coming in. l'm gonna have to get back to you.

Okay, thank you so much for your time.

David, good luck.

He never let on to anyone at the time, not even me. You know, that would have meant. . .

Thanks.

...admitting failure, and David doesn't do failure.


FROST: There you are.

See, you don't have to do a thing yourself.

(lN DlSTlNCT)

Well.

You found it okay.

Yes, thank you.

Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Frost.

And you, sir.

May l present Caroline Cushing?

Miss Cushing.

Hello. Your house is very beautiful.

Really. Very romantic.

Well, thank you.

And my producer, John Birt.

Nice to meet you. How do you do?

This is Mr. Lazar, and this is Jack Brennan.

Now, Miss Cushing, would you like to take a tour, you know, maybe stretch your legs after your long journey?

Yes, please. l'd love that. Thank you.

Come on in. This is my office.

Now, this is where Brezhnev and l had our summit.

Yeah. Brezhnev was there, and Gromyko there, Dobrynin there.

We talked for nine hours straight.

After the meeting, as a souvenir of the visit, l remember that we had a Lincoln specially made.

Dark blue, cherry wood, leather.

Well, we got inside for the photographers, when the next thing you know, he steps on the gas.

Now, the first rule of political life is you never let a president get behind the wheel of a car, ever. l mean, we're not used to doing anything for ourselves, let alone drive.

And the Chairman, Jesus, the way he put his foot down, my guess is the last thing he drove was a tractor on some Ukrainian potato farm.

He crashed into curbs.

He went over speed bumps.

He went twice around my whole estate.

Finally, we ended up at some remote point on the coast, out there overlooking the sea.

He turns off the gas, and he talks for two hours about his favorite subject, steel mills.

He said, "Mr. President, most politicians

"have tragedy in their early lives."

Well, l told him that l lost two brothers to tuberculosis.

And he watched his father die from the cancer he caught in the steelworks.

He was a sad man and a noble adversary. l wouldn't want to be a Russian leader.

They never know when they're being taped.

Okay, l guess that's it then, huh?

Until March. l look forward to it.

Well, thank you, Mr. President. So do l.

You know, it's a funny thing that l've never been challenged to a duel before. l guess that's what this is.

FROST: Yeah, well, not really.

Of course it is.

And l like that.

No holds barred, eh? No holds barred.

Mr. Frost, there's still the small matter of the. . .

Of course. l do beg your pardon.

Right. $200,000. l do hope that isn't coming out of your own pocket.

Well, believe me, sir, l wish my pockets were that deep.

Made out in the name of? lrving Paul Lazar.

Richard M. Nixon.

Here you go.

MANOLO: Okay, smile.

There. Now you can put that in your apartment in New York, and all your liberal friends can use it as a dartboard.

Well, actually, l'm living in Monte Carlo at the moment.

Really?

Yes. Goodbye, Mr. President.

Hey. Take my advice.

You should marry that woman.

Yes. Lovely, isn't she?

More important than that, she comes from Monaco.

They pay no taxes there.

Bye-bye. Goodbye.

l bet you it did.

What?

Come out of his own pocket.

You know, he couldn't look me in the eye.

Well, l hear the networks aren't biting.

Without the networks, the ad agencies don't want to know.

So if you ask me, there's a good chance this whole thing may never happen.

Really? So that meeting we just had might have cost him $200,000?

Correct.

Had l known that, l would have offered him a cup of tea.

Say, did you notice his shoes?

No. ltalian. No laces. What do you think?

My people tried to get me to wear a pair like that. l think a man's shoes should have laces, sir.

You do?

Yeah. Personally, l find those ltalian shoes very effeminate.

Yes, quite right.

NBC EXECUTlVE: l\m sorry, David, but it\s a no.

Try to look at it from our point of view.

Why would an American network hire a total outsider, and someone who's already had his own show canceled, incidentally? l see. Well, l'm sorry you feel this way.

Obviously, l think you're making a terrible mistake.

N BC.

Well, that's the networks out, all of them.

Well, that's the end of that, then.

l'm sorry, David.

Not so fast.

Where's your adventurer's spirit?

The idea is we pay for the program and syndicate it ourselves, completely bypassing the networks.

Just imagine it, we'd be our own network for the night.

Hey, Bob. FROST: How does that grab you?

Hey, come on in. David's on the phone.

FROST: No, never been done before.

Historic stuff.

Just think about it, okay? And call me back.

Yeah? Yeah.

David, l'd like you to meet Jim Reston and Bob Zelnick, our two prospective corner men.

Delighted to meet you.

Come on in. Make yourselves at home.

Bob's been Washington correspondent for Public Radio for the past 1 0 years.

Moving to ABC in the new year.

The general feeling, David, is that l have been wasting my matinee idol looks on radio.

Jim here teaches at the University of North Carolina and is writing a book about the criminal dishonesty, corruption, paranoia and abuses of power of Richard Nixon.

Second on the subject.

Fourth.

Well, delighted to have you both aboard.

Actually, before l sign on, l would like to hear what you were hoping to achieve with this interview.

What l want to achieve?

Yeah.

Jim, well, l've secured 1 2 taping days.

That's close to 30 hours with the most compelling and controversial politician of our times. lsn't that enough?

Well, not for me.

Look, l'd be giving up a year of my life. l'm leaving my family to work on a subject matter that means more than you can probably imagine, and the idea of doing all that without achieving what l want to, personally, would be unthinkable to me.

(lNTERRU PTlNG) FROST: No, all right.

Well, what is it that you want to achieve?

l'd like to give Richard Nixon the trial he never had.

Of course, we'll be asking difficult questions.

Difficult questions.

The man lost 21 ,000 Americans and a million lndo-Chinese during his administration.

He only escaped jail because of Ford's pardon.

Yes, but equally, going after him in some knee-jerk way, you know, assuming he's a terrible guy, wouldn't that only create more sympathy for him than anything else?

(SlGHS) You know. . .

Right now, l submit it's impossible to feel anything close to sympathy for Richard Nixon.

He devalued the presidency, and he left the country that elected him in trauma.

The American people need a conviction, pure and simple.

The integrity of our political system, of democracy as an idea, entirely depends on it.

And if in years to come, people look back and say it was in this interview that Richard Nixon exonerated himself, that would be the worst crime of all.

Did you know that Mike Wallace is doing a piece on this?

And that in the bars around Capitol Hill and Georgetown this entire project is a joke?

ZELN lCK: Come on. Jim, come on.

Thanks for that, Jim.

Could you give us a couple of minutes?

You're unbelievable. l'm sorry, Bob.

You know, Jim, l went way out on a limb for you. l mean, some of us actually want this job. l want it, too, if it's done right.

Well, how do you know they're not gonna do it right?

Little Lord Fauntleroy in there?

Sympathy for Richard Nixon?

What the. . . He's full of shit, man !

How do you know that?

ls Mike Wallace doing a piece on this?

Apparently.

Why didn't you tell me? lt isn't relevant.

What's the angle? "British talk show host, "good with actresses, not so good with stonewalling presidents."

That's the general idea, yeah.

Right. lt's hard not to feel a little insulted by that.

Well, Bob's obviously a pro.

What are we gonna do about Reston?

Well, the man's an idiot. He's overemotional.

Send him home.

Well, l think he should stay. Why? l liked his passion.

He will drive us all bloody mad.

Well, maybe, but sometimes being out of your comfort zone is a good thing, l'm told.

He stays.

I took my seat next to Mrs. Mao at the banquet table.

Now, one of the challenges of life as a president is the endless round of cocktail parties, social engagements, banquets.

And people who know me would tell you that small talk is not one of my strong suits, either. No.

Particularly not in Mandarin.

So Mrs. Mao and l, we just, well, you know, stared at one another.

And then across the table, Mrs. Nixon and Chairman Mao himself, well, they stared at one another, too.

And then further down, Dr. Kissinger and their foreign minister, well, you're getting the picture now.

l can't stand it, Jack!

Reducing the presidency to a series of banal anecdotes. l feel like a circus animal doing tricks.

And l thought l made it clear! l didn't want to take any questions on Watergate, damn it!

Soon as it came to question time, all those sons of bitches ever want to hear about is Watergate! lt's as if all my other achievements have ceased to exist.

Well, sir, you're gonna get a chance to talk about them sooner than you think.

Yeah? How?

Frost got there. He got the money.

What? l understand most of it's borrowed, that his friends have bailed him out.

But the point is, we start taping at the end of March.

Really? Now, that's terrific.

How much time is devoted to Watergate?

25%. Just one of four 90-minute shows.

What are the other three divided into?

Domestic Affairs, Foreign Policy, and Nixon the Man.

"Nixon the Man"?

As opposed to what? Nixon the horse?

Well, l imagine it's some kind of biographical piece. l can see it now. The father that neglected me, the brothers that died.

Spare me.

Still, now, the fact it's come together, now, that's a good thing, no?

Mr. President, it's fantastic.

Frost is just not in your intellectual class, sir.

You're gonna be able to dictate terms, rebuild your reputation. lf this went well, if enough people saw it, revised their opinion, you could move back East way, way earlier than we expected.

You think? l'm certain. lt would be so good to go back to where the action is.

You know?

The hunger in my belly is still there, Jack.

l guess it all boils down to Watergate, huh?

Well, that's nothing to worry about, sir. lt's not as if there's gonna be any revelations.

That stuff's been combed over a million times.

No one has pinned anything on you.

Yeah, still, it's been a while since l spoke about it on the record. l'm gonna start doing my homework.

Hey, you know what would be an interesting thing to find out?

What his strategy is.

Now, where's he staying? l believe The Beverly Hilton.

The Beverly Hilton, you say.

Well, l got the numbers someplace of some fellows that we could send in.

Cubans with ClA training.

Jesus, Jack, it was a joke.

Yes, sir.

RESTON: A week later, we said goodbye to our families, we hopped on a plane, and we moved into The Beverly Hilton.

And that\s where we started to dig into our research and prepare for the interviews.

Yeah, as it happens, we took the whole question of security very seriously.

BIRT: And from day one, we kept all our files in a locked safe.

Who was the guy that Mike interviewed? Was that Haldeman?

BlRT: Haldeman. RESTON : Haldeman. And Ehrlichman, too. l always get the Germans mixed up. l'm a little confused by that.

What is Haldeman's official. . . Hello, darling.

As for the work over the months, we divided it into three sections.

Birt took Vietnam, Bob took Foreign and Domestic Policy, and l got Watergate and the abuses of power.

And David, we never really saw much of David.

RESTON : All right, so what about the Huston Plan?

You can see the seeds of dirty tricks.

Essentially, it's an attempt to legalize dirty tricks.

That's why you gotta get David to put it in the question.

Wiretapping students.

N lXON ON TAPE: But they\ve traced the money to him.

RESTON : Opening people's mail.

What about wiretapping?

How many people has he wiretapped?

This guy wiretapped 1 7 people.

BlRT: Seventeen? lncluding his own brother.

But you know what? We can't ask him about his brother, 'cause frankly, if Donald Nixon was my brother, l'd wiretap him, too.

RESTON : But wait, okay, so we have breaking and entering.

We have wiretapping, conspiracy to foster prostitution.

And that's Liddy, right?

Delivery courtesy of Nate 'n Al's finest deli selection.

We're going to need napkins. We'd better have some napkins.

How do we frame a question about Cambodia, about the illicit bombing of Cambodia? l think you should say, "How far do you take executive privilege

"before it becomes an undemocratic event?" l think you frame the question to him as a Quaker.

"How do you feel as a Quaker about annihilating an entire people?"

FROST: Come on. Are they really interested in buying time?

Are they going to give us the money?

How serious are they?

You have to set up that he has an anti-democratic personality.

There's a reason they call him Tricky Dick.

Because l had written about and watched Nixon for years, l got to play him in our rehearsals.

You know, the fellas would throw me a question, and I would try and anticipate what his response might be.

BlRT: Okay, the White House taping system.

Ours is not the first administration to use taping systems.

Lyndon Johnson's White House used them. So did Kennedy's.

Huston Plan. Wiretapping and alleged abuses of power.

Let me tell you, other administrations were up to far worse.

And just for fun, your close friend Jack Kennedy.

That man, he screwed anything that moved, fixed elections and took us into Vietnam.

And the American people, they loved him for it!

Whereas l, Richard Milhous Nixon, worked around the clock in their service, and they hated me!

Look. Look. Now l'm sweating.

Damn it! Damn it!

And Kennedy's so goddamn handsome and blue-eyed !

And women all over him !

He screwed anything that moved, and everything.

Had a go at Checkers once.

The poor little bitch was never the same!

Gentlemen, finally a friend in the American press.

CAROLlN E: Jack Anderson in The Washington Post, "When Richard Nixon faces the television cameras

"for his first interview since he abandoned the White House, "he'll be cross-examined as if he were on the witness stand.

"Frost has hired three crack investigators

"to help him with the research.

"Clearly the famous TV interviewer will pull no punches."

"Crack investigators"?

Can l be Crack One?

Can l be Deep Crack?

David, can l talk to you for a sec?

After researching my last book, l was pretty certain Colson. . .

You know, Charles Colson? His darkest henchman?

Colson, right. Colson had a meeting with Nixon

(PHON E RlNGlNG) sometime before June 23, but l never knew the exact date, so l couldn't find the transcript.

But if you gave me a week back in the Federal Courthouse library. . .

A week? Goodness, Jim, we can't lose you for that long. l think this is really good stuff, Dave.

Would there be something l could help you with?

You know, if we're gonna nail Nixon in these interviews, we're gonna have to ambush him.

We're gonna have to take him by surprise.

Don't worry, Jim. We'll get him anyway.

Hang on a second. David, Jack Brennan.

He sounds a little emotional. l'll take it in here.

He'll be right with you. Yeah.

Jack. Watergate.

Yes, Jack.

Our lawyers want us to agree on a definition of the word.

Well, l believe it's a large hotel and office complex in Washington, Jack.

You know what I'm talking about.

For the interviews.

We want to propose that Watergate be an umbrella term for everything negative.

(STAMMERS)

Hold on a minute.

So all the other domestic charges against him, the Brookings lnstitute, the Plumbers Union, the Enemies List, you're saying all that goes into Watergate?

Correct.

That is absurd and a clear breach of the terms of our agreement.

Okay. How would you define Watergate?

Well, that it covers just that.

The Watergate break-in of June 1 7th and the subsequent cover-up and investigation.

Fine. ln which case, the deal is off.

Fine. ln which case, you can expect a lawsuit for something in excess of $20 million in damages and loss of earnings.

The terms of the contract clearly stipulate that Watergate take up no more than 25% of the time.

Yes, but nowhere does it say that for the rest of the 75% he gets to drone on and sound presidential.

"Drone on"? Jesus Christ. Where's your respect?

You remember who you're talking about here.

You know as well as l do that 60% of what he did in office was right, and 30% may have been wrong, but he thought it was right at the time.

Yes, but that still leaves 1 0% where he was doing the wrong thing and knew it.

You goddamn media people. You are so smug.

Well, l can guarantee you if you screw us on the 60%, l will ruin you if it takes the rest of my life.

Prick.

Look at you. Gorgeous.

Good night, sweet princes.

Cheerio. Bye.

See you in the morning.

(DOOR CLOSES)

Why the monkey suit?

David has a film premiere he needs to attend.

What? The night before we start taping?

What's the movie?

It's The Slipper and the Rose.

The Cinderella movie?

Yeah. David's the executive producer.

You don't think it might be an idea for our interviewer to be rested and focused on the job in hand?

BlRT: Don't worry.

David is a performer of the highest caliber.

He's been in these pressure situations many times before.

Come the hour, he'll be fine. Okay?

What did he say? Did he say "performer"?

Yeah. That's the word he used?

Yeah, he said "performer."

Not "journalist" or "interviewer"?

No. He said "performer."

Out of curiosity, where are you at this moment? Psychically?

l am imagining the dust, the darkness, the agony and the unimaginable loneliness of the wilderness l am about to be dispatched to by my Washington political colleagues.

(CH EERlNG)

So any opportunity you get, go right to foreign policy, go right to Mao, go right to Khrushchev.

Just go right!

KHACH lGlAN : You could do all day on foreign policy, sir.

PRlCE: l disagree that the Mao banquet story is stale.

Excuse me, sir. Something l think you should see.

GAN NON : People love that story.

SAWYER: Why don't we save it for the book?

KHACH lGlAN : Yeah, right, come on.

REPORTER 1 : David. REPORTER 2: Mr. Frost.

REPORTER 1 : David, some people in the media have suggested that you're not the right man for the job, that you'll be too soft on the President.

What will you do if he stonewalls you?

FROST: Well, l shall say so again and again.

But I should say right now that I'm not expecting his approach to be to stonewall.

I'm hoping that it\ll be that of a cascade of candor.

REPORTER 1 : \\A cascade of candor\\?

From Richard Nixon?

You think that\s what you'll get?

No, I just thought it was a phrase that might appeal to you.

REPORTER 1 : So what about the money?

That's a strange fellow.

Started life as a comic, you know.

N lXON : ls that so? Mmm-hmm.

Almost married Diahann Carroll.

Who?

GAN NON : The singer. lsn't she black?

Yes, sir.

Right here in the Frost file, which we put together as part of our general preparations.

Okay. Let's get back to work.

FROST: That's fact, this is fiction.

So now it\s about The Slipper and the Rose.

It\s a cracker of a movie.

I hope you'll all come and see it, and. . .

(ELEVATOR BELL DlNGS) l shouldn't have ordered that coffee.

Just don't drink any more.

(lNAU DlBLE)

Good luck. Thank you.

l'll be thinking of you.

Dick. Wait.

FROST: For the record, l'm gonna be starting with John's idea.

"Why didn't you burn the tapes?"

No. Fuck.

Please, God, no! You can't.

David, you can't do that. lt would be a disaster. lt would get us into Watergate way ahead of the agreed time.

What is the point of having contractually set specific times to deal with certain subjects if you're just going to ignore it right off the bat?

'Cause it's war, isn't it? Gloves off. l like it. lt's ballsy.

Strategically, it'll give us the upper hand. lt's insanely risky.

He could walk right off the set, and there's nothing we could do about it.

Worse, he could sue you !

We were sadly unable to do the taping at Casa Pacifica because of the Coast Guard radio interference, so we ended up at the rather more modest Smith house, which was owned by a local Republican businessman.

(REPORTERS CLAMORlNG)

PHOTOGRAPH ER: Right here!

Mr. Frost, look over here.

Over here, sir!

Here we go. OFFlCER: Back up behind the curb.

REPORTER 1 : A few questions, please.

PHOTOGRAPH ER: Right here, Mr. Frost.

REPORTER 2: David ! David ! David !

(ALL CLAMORlNG)

FROST: Well, hello there.

(SlREN BLARlNG)

Excuse me, fellas.

MAN : Nixon, there's blood on your hands!

WOMAN : Liar!

MAN : Here comes the President!

REPORTER 1 : Mr. President!

REPORTER 2: Mr. President!

REPORTER 3: How are you feeling, Mr. President?

(REPORTERS CLAMORlNG)

The Smith family requested that the furniture be put back in place.

They talked to you about that, too?

They're bugging everybody.

RESTON : You know, l've written four books about him, but this is the first time l've actually seen him in the flesh.

He's taller than l imagined, and tanned.

The least he could do is look ravaged.

You gonna shake his hand?

Am l gonna shake. . .

Are you kidding me?

After everything that prick's done to this country? l'm not gonna shake his hand.

Gentlemen.

May l present Bob Zelnick, my executive editor?

How do you do?

Pleasure, Mr. President.

FROST: And Jim Reston, one of my researchers.

Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Reston.

Mr. President.

Excuse me, sir? Got a room for you right here.

Wow. That was devastating, withering. l mean, l don't think he's ever gonna get over that.

Yeah, fuck off.

(CH UCKLES) l got you guys set up back here.

Now this is your green room.

And the President will be on the large monitor.

Craft services is that way.

Keep it about that temperature, okay?

Mr. President?

Yeah.

Before we start, l just want to say how delighted we all are by Mrs. Nixon's recovery.

Well, thank you. lt's true.

She's much better now.

She's just getting round to the business of replying to all the cards.

And from our point of view, well, l'd just like to say how pleased we are that you got this all together.

Thank you.

As l understand it, it's been quite a struggle.

Well. . .

How much has it cost?

You mind me asking? Hey, come on.

Come on, it's just between us.

Very well. Two million.

Two million? Jeez. l didn't realize we were making Ben-Hur.

(LAUGHS U NCOMFORTABLY)

But tell me something.

You raised it all now?

(H ESlTATES)

Not quite. But we're getting there.

Everyone's been kind and deferred fees.

Well, not quite everyone.

David, l'm gonna go in with you on camera.

Excuse me. l want to put a handkerchief here, if l may. ls that out of shot?

That's fine, Mr. President.

Contractually, l think that we made an agreement that after each question l might dab my upper lip before answering it.

Which you won't show, you know, when you cut it together.

You're probably aware of my history with perspiration. lf you're referring to your TV debate with Jack Kennedy in 1 960.

They say that moisture on my upper lip cost me the presidency.

People who heard it on the radio, well, they thought l'd won.

But television and the close-up, they create their own sets of meanings.

So now they insist l bring a handkerchief and that l have my eyebrows trimmed.

Sixty seconds, everyone.

You trim yours? No.

No, of course not.

Yeah, you're light-skinned. Yeah.

You got blue eyes. You've got no troubles with perspiration, l imagine.

No, not that l'm aware.

You were obviously born to be on the tube.

DAVlS: Stand by to roll tape in 30 seconds.

Settling.

Those shoes.

They're ltalian, aren't they?

My shoes? l believe so.

Yeah, that's interesting.

(SN lFFLES)

You don't find them too effeminate?

No.

Well, l guess somebody in your field can get away with them, you know.

Manolo, just check my collar, will you?

DlRECTOR: David, starting with camera two, in four, three, two. Cue David. And. . .

Mr. President. Now, we're going to be covering a lot of subjects in a great deal of detail over the course of these interviews, but l'd like to begin completely out of context by asking you one question, more than any other, almost every American and people all over the world want me to ask.

Why didn't you burn the tapes?

Son of a bitch !

Well, Mr. Frost, l'm surprised by your question since we have an agreement, a contractual agreement, l believe, that we would cover Watergate in our last taping session.

But if your viewers really do have a major concern, then perhaps l should briefly respond to it now.

What probably very few people realize is that the taping system in the White House was set up by my predecessor, President Johnson, partly to avoid the necessity of having a secretary in every meeting, and partly to ensure there was a record kept of every verbal agreement, no matter how off the cuff or casual.

Now, initially, on coming into the White House, l insisted on dismantling the system. l hadn't liked the idea at all, but the former President, President Johnson, had repeatedly said how crazy it would be to remove the system, which he felt was the best way. . .

BRENNAN: Well, in boxing, you know, there's always that first moment, and you see it in the challenger's face. lt's that moment that he feels the impact from the champ's first jab. lt's kind of a sickening moment, when he realizes that all those months of pep talks and the hype, the psyching yourself up, had been delusional all along.

You could see it in Frost's face. lf he didn't know the caliber of the man that he was up against before the interview started, he certainly knew it halfway through the President's first answer.

N lXON : You see, since the best advice is almost always of the confidential variety, now the tapes have been made public, people are unlikely ever to feel comfortable speaking in confidence at the White House.

They're less likely to offer that advice. So in the end, it's the whole political system and, by implication, it's the country that suffers.

So much for our "ballsy" opening.

So when did you actually decide. . .

At what moment did you know you were going to resign?

That's good. That's good. l remember exactly. lt was July 23.

After it was clear the Southern Democrats that were still against impeachment had had the screws put on them by the Speaker of the House.

That night l said to Al Haig, "Well, that's it. There goes the presidency."

And, of course, you know, being Al, he tried to talk me out of it.

And Vice President Ford, I mean, let's not forget he had the most to gain personally from my stepping down, he was still absolutely convinced that we were gonna win the impeachment vote, and comfortably. John, we have to do something.

We have to move this along.

This is desperate, John. Do something.

Twenty-three minutes on one question?

Okay, let's take a break.

Let's change the tapes. Come on, man.

Stop tape.

DlRECTOR: l'm sorry, gentlemen.

We have to take a break. Tape change.

Oh. Okay, how's that? You getting what you need? lt's fantastic.

Good. Good. Thank you.

Excuse me. One moment, sir.

N lXON : Yeah, sure. Take your time.

What are you doing, David? You've got to stop him rambling. lt's all right. These are just introductory exchanges.

But this session only lasts two hours.

Nearly half of it's gone, and we're wasting valuable material, okay?

The moment that he made the decision to resign, we should be scoring points with that stuff.

Want me to switch to Vietnam?

No. No. We've got to get something out of that resignation night. All right?

That was Nixon at his lowest point, a total wreck. On his knees?

Praying with Kissinger? Come on, you can nail him with that stuff.

Listen, was that okay?

Perfect, sir. lt didn't sound too arrogant or self-serving?

Not at all. You sounded controlled, even-handed, statesmanlike.

Good.

Now continue exactly the same way.

Long answers. Control the space.

Don't let him in.

Okay, got you.

DAVlS: Set. And roll.

We're coming back on camera three in four, three, two and. . .

Reading the account of those extraordinary final days, it seems your most emotional moment came in that heart-to-heart you had with Henry Kissinger.

Was that perhaps the most emotional moment of your career?

RESTON : Good, good. N IXON: Yes. l would say it was about as emotional a moment as l've ever had.

Except, well, you know, it's hard to say what is the most emotional moment, because each is different.

I remember the day Eisenhower died.

For God's sake.

And the day I walked my eldest daughter Tricia down the aisle.

And the day during the impeachment hearings when Julie, that's my youngest, she came into my office, she threw her arms around me, she kissed me. She cried, you know?

And she so seldom cries.

She said, \\Daddy, you\re the finest man I know.\\

"Daddy, you're the finest man l know"?

"And whatever you do, l will support you.

"You just gotta go through the fire, you know, a little longer."

This is beautiful.

So Kissinger and l were in the Lincoln Sitting Room, and together we began to reminisce about some of the great decisions that we'd participated in.

There was China, the Soviet Union, the peace settlement in Vietnam.

Now, let me tell you something that I never told anybody.

Whenever l have had a really tough decision to make. . .

Now, we were in the Lincoln Sitting Room at that time. l have come into this room for the purpose of praying.

"Now, Henry, l'm a Quaker. You're a Jew.

"Neither of us is particularly orthodox, "but l'd like to think that each of us in our own way

"has a deep religious sensitivity.

"So if you don't mind, could we just have a moment of silent prayer?"

So we knelt down. Now, this was in front of that table where Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

And then after a few moments, we both got up again, and Henry says. . . ls there. . . l'm sorry. ls there a problem?

That's time.

We're over two hours.

Really? So soon?

Well, Mr. President, l gather our time is up.

Gee, now, that's a pity.

You know, l was beginning to enjoy that.

That was terrific, both of you.

We're getting some great material.

You know, it's so funny, too, because l was expecting questions on Vietnam.

And we prepared for that, hadn't we, Jack?

Yes, so did l. l guess we just got caught up, you know, reminiscing. lndeed.

So, day after tomorrow, 1 0:00, right?

Yes, indeed. l look forward to it. Bye-bye.

There's no need to say anything.

REPORTER 1 : Mr. President! REPORTER 2: Mr. President!

(REPORTERS CLAMORlNG)

REPORTER 3: Mr. President!

REPORTER 4: Mr. President, please!

(WH lSPERlNG) What are you gonna tell him? l'm gonna tell him he's gotta get involved.

He's gotta be able to shut him up. Shh.

David, we have some fundamental problems in our approach that l think. . .

Don't worry, Bob. l'm on it.

We can use some of the Kissinger stuff.

Yeah, but we need to discuss it sooner rather than later. . .

Look, l'm disappointed, too.

But l wonder, could we possibly spare the post-mortem for now? l don't mean to minimize it. lt's just l've got to get back to LA to meet some people from Weed Eater.

Thanks, everyone! Great work!

Marv, Lloyd, great day. Bye, David. l'll see you soon. God bless!

What the hell is Weed Eater? lt's a horticultural mechanism.

One of our sponsors.

What happened to Xerox?

What about General Motors or lBM? l gather that not all of the blue-chip accounts came through.

We do have Alpo.

Dog food?

(STUTTERlNG) Wait, John. We're already taping.

So we're close, right? We're very close?

That's probably a question you should ask David.

Are we close, John?

l believe we're at 30%.

To go? Or 30% sold?

Again, that's probably a question you should. . .

Sold, 30%% sold.

Jesus. . . l thought we were practically fully financed.

We were. But the financing was always conditional on advertising sales, and no one predicted that they'd fall apart like this.

Well, why have they fallen apart? Based on what?

Credibility of the project. What else are advertising sales based on?

Listen, l understand your concern.

But could l ask you to go a little easier on David over the next couple of days, bearing in mind the extraordinary pressure that he's under?

'Cause at the moment, he's effectively paying for all this himself.

So he's in it for a lot more than just his reputation.

And we're not?

FROST: You seemed very confident last time.

I don\t understand. Why this sudden change of heart?

All right, this is just madness. lt's Richard Nixon.

These interviews will do mid-30s audience share, minimum.

Jimmy! Yes. Yes, back again, like the proverbial bad penny.

Look, l hate to do this to a friend, and l know you're already in for more than l asked for, but l need you to dig a little deeper. l'm right up against it now.

So, l had a chance to review yesterday's tapes.

And?

Honestly? Far too soft, David.

Go on. Beat me, John. Beat me with a stick.

Look. No, l'm serious.

You have got to make it more uncomfortable for him.

You can start by sitting forward. You've gotta attack more. lf he starts tailing off, bang, jump in with another question.

Don't trade generalizations.

Be specific.

And above all, don't let him give these self-serving, 23-minute homilies.

Right. And keep your distance before the tape starts running.

He was toying with you yesterday.

All that shit about Ben-Hur and struggling to raise the money.

Those are mind games. Don't engage.

Never forget, you are in there with a major operator.

Got it.

(N lXON CLEARS TH ROAT)

Ah.

The Grand lnquisitor!

No, just your friendly neighborhood confidant.

(GLASS SMASH lNG)

lt's okay. We just blew a bulb.

N lXON : This is why l got all these Secret Service guys around.

There's nothing to worry about.

As a president, you get used to this kind of stuff.

DAVlS: Ed, we gotta get in here and change out this 750, ASAP.

(WH lSPERlNG) Focus, sir. Yeah.

Okay, we are back. Okay, take it on my count.

Okay, stand by to roll tape. 30 seconds.

DAVlS: Settling.

You have a pleasant evening last night?

Yes, thank you.

Did you do any fornicating?

David, we're starting with camera two in four, (CLEARS TH ROAT) three, two and. . .

Mr. President, you came to office promising peace, but no sooner did you get into the White House than US involvement in Vietnam deepened and the war was prolonged with calamitous consequences.

Did you feel that you'd betrayed the people that had elected you?

Well, Vietnam was not my war. lt was my inheritance.

And it looked to me... Jump in.

. . .as if the reason for our being there had perhaps not been adequately understood by the American people. lt seemed to me they hadn't realized how important a test this was of American credibility.

The whole world was watching to see if we have the character to see it through.

Now, look, l could have bugged out. l could have. l could have blamed it on my predecessors. l could have pulled the troops out of Vietnam early, and very possibly, l would have won some Scandinavian peace prize into the bargain.

But l believed in the cause.

And sometimes, you know, what you believe in, it's the harder path.

You might even say that l was the last casualty of the Vietnam War.

Yeah, tell that to the paraplegics.

Come on, David, Cambodia.

And Cambodia? An invasion which everybody advised you against.

All the ClA and Pentagon intelligence suggested it would fail.

So why did you do it?

Well, first of all, as a result of our incursion into Cambodia, we picked up 22,000 rifles, 1 5 million rounds of ammunition, 1 50,000 rockets, mortars.

That's all belonging to the North Vietnamese, which would only otherwise have been directed right onto American soldiers.

But one of the principal justifications you gave for the incursion was the supposed existence of the "headquarters of the entire Communist military operation in South Vietnam," a sort of "bamboo Pentagon" which proved not to exist at all.

No, no. Wait a minute there. No, l was. . . And by sending. . .

And by sending B-52s to carpet bomb a country, wiping out whole civilian areas, you end up radicalizing a once moderate people, uniting them in anti-American sentiment and creating a monster in the Khmer Rouge that would lead to civil war...

All right! ...and genocide.

Yes, good, good, good. There it is.

Okay, run VT.

Roll tape.


Well, sir, l'm sure you'd agree, some pretty stirring images there.

Look, it was never US policy to kill civilians. That's the enemy's way.

Well, l'm not suggesting. . .

And if you're asking the question do l regret the casualties on both sides in the war, yeah, sure, of course l do.

Let me tell you something. lt can just wear you down.

Well, all right, sir, when you are faced with someone who. . .

But whenever l have had my doubts, l remembered the construction worker in Philadelphia, because he came up to me and he said, "Sir, l got only one criticism of that Cambodia thing.

"lf you'd gone in earlier, "you might have captured the gun

"that killed my boy three months ago."

So you're asking me, do l regret going into Cambodia?

No! l don't. You know what? l wish l'd gone in sooner and harder.

SAWYER: Got him. Safe!

lt was horrifying. lt was horrifying. And he was so confident.

(REPORTERS CLAMORlNG)

REPORTER: What are you gonna say about Watergate?

Sorry, boys, just all talked out, you know?

Better?

lt was. Unquestionably better.

What's next?

Foreign policy.

Great. Russia, China, the big power stuff.

Yeah, so?

So if he beats him up like that on Vietnam, imagine what he's gonna do with his real achievements.

(RESTON LAUGHS) lt ain't gonna be pretty.

The answer was grow by six inches. lt was agony to watch.

Now, that's when Khrushchev called me, begging me to intervene.

You see, he and Mao didn't get along, and Khrushchev knew that the Chairman would talk to me, no one else.

You see, l was the only one that Mao would trust personally, man-to-man.

When David tried to lay a finger on him, Nixon made mincemeat out of him.

ZELN lCK: What "revolution," David?

You just let Richard Nixon claim the country was in a state of revolution?

What, with protestors "bombing" and "assaulting" police officers?

That's not how l remember it.

What l remember is people protesting peacefully and legitimately against the Vietnam War!

That's what l remember. Music off, please. Off.

By the end, wiretapping students and breaking into journalists' homes was beginning to sound like a rational response.

Well, l'm sorry you feel this way, but l simply cannot share your view.

About what exactly?

About any of it, frankly! l thought today was a huge improvement.

Are you nuts?

Let me tell you how bad things were today.

After the taping finished, l overheard two members of the crew say they never voted for him when they had the chance, but if he ran for office again today, he'd get their support.

You're making him look presidential, for Christ's sake!

And forget about the trivia, David.

Who cares whether Nixon took the White House bed to Europe when he traveled? l do!

Well, it's irrelevant!

And it's just the sort of banal anecdote that would distract a talk. . .

A what?

Go on. No, say it.

What, you were gonna say "talk show host"?

Yeah. Yeah, l was.

All right, look, it's useless me trying to answer your points.

Frankly, l don't share any of your sense of pessimism or alarm.

And this ridiculous self-flagellation, in my view, is just depressing.

No!

And threatening to derail the whole enterprise.

Look. lf there is anyone here who thinks we're gonna fail, they better leave now, or it'll infect everyone else.

No one?

Right.

Good.

Now, l suggest instead of festering around the hotel for the next five days, we all go our separate ways over Easter.

But before we go, Caroline and l would like you to join us for a little celebratory dinner at Patrick Terrail's new place.

Celebrate? Celebrate what, David?

The fact that we're all gonna be working at Burger King?

What are we celebrating? lt's my birthday, Bob!

l'd like to celebrate my birthday with a few friends.

(PlANO PLAYlNG U PBEAT TU N E)

Look, is that Neil Diamond?

(SlNGlNG) Frost and Nixon, Frost and Nixon And is that Sammy Cahn?

Go together like Prancer and Vixen David, did you hear that?

Soaring through the airwaves Jesus, that's Hugh Hefner.

Oh, my God.

Hoping for several hefty paydays Yeah, l think it is. With Michael York.

That's gotta be Bunnies.

Those are Bunnies? Those are real Bunnies?

Frost and Nixon, Frost and Nixon Go together like Mason and Dixon David, just putting it all together it's the most extraordinary accomplishment.

Frost lines up with Dicky...

No one else could have done that.

And these interviews are always gonna be around for future generations of academics and political historians.

That bad?

He saved it He wrote a book Now here\s the hook David !

Patrick.

He\s not a crook He's paid by David

(GU ESTS APPLAU DlNG)

(PLAYlNG CLASSlCAL MUSlC)


My, what a festive atmosphere. Please, don't get up. l take it from this that the interviews have gone well?

Better than that, ma'am. lt's a shutout.

The President's sitting on an 1 1 -0 lead.

Really? Well. Yeah.

Well, that is most gratifying.

l'm so glad it's all gone according to plan.

(SlGHS) l see. ls there nothing we can do?

Really?

(SlGH lNG) Right. Well, thanks for letting me know.

lt's true. They've dropped the Australian show.

Oh, no, David.

They felt that l needed to reevaluate my priorities.

Now my producer's worried that the London show will follow.

l'm in this for everything l've got, and there's still no guarantee it'll ever see the light of day.

What have l done? What was l thinking? Why didn't anyone stop me?

They should have physically stopped me!

No, no, no. Shh.

Look, we don't have to go out tonight. Why don't we stay in?

Hmm?

l'll go down to Trader Vic's and bring something back.

Steak or fish?

David?

Don't worry. l'll call from the restaurant.

(DOOR CLOSES)


(TELEPHON E RlNGlNG)

l'll have a cheeseburger.

N lXON: Mmm. That sounds good. I used to love cheeseburgers, but Dr. Lundgren made me give them up.

He switched me to cottage cheese and pineapple instead.

He calls them my Hawaiian burgers, but they don't taste like burgers at all.

They taste like Styrofoam.

l hope l'm not disturbing.

No.

It's a Friday night.

You've probably got somebody there whom you're entertaining.

No.

Well, then what are you doing?

A handsome young fellow, an eligible young bachelor alone on a Friday night. lf you must know, l'm preparing for our final session.

The all-important final session.

Yes. Watergate.

\Cause l guess the way you handle Watergate's gonna determine whether these interviews are a success or a failure.

Should l be nervous?

Well, l'm gonna give it my best shot.

Quite right. No holds barred. No holds barred.

You know, it's strange.

Now, we have sat in chairs opposite one another, talking for hours, it seems, days on end, and yet l've hardly gotten to know you.

One of my people, as part of the preparation for this interview, she did a profile on you.

And l'm sorry to say that l just got around to reading it tonight.

There's some interesting stuff in there.

Your Methodist background, the modest circumstances, and then you're off to a grand university full of richer, posher types.

What was it? Oxford?

Cambridge.

Did the snobs there look down on you, too?

(CH UCKLES)

Of course they did. That's our tragedy, isn't it, Mr. Frost?

No matter how high we get, they still look down at us. l really don't know what you're talking about.

Yes, you do.

Now, come on. No matter how many awards or column inches are written about you or how high the elected office is for me, it's still not enough.

We still feel like the little man, the loser they told us we were a hundred times.

The smart-asses at college, the high-ups, the well-born, the people whose respect we really wanted, really craved.

And isn't that why we work so hard now, why we fight for every inch, scrambling our way up in undignified fashion? lf we're honest for a minute, if we reflect privately just for a moment, if we allow ourselves a glimpse into that shadowy place we call our soul, isn't that why we're here now? The two of us?

Looking for a way back into the sun, into the limelight, back onto the winner's podium.

Because we could feel it slipping away.

We were headed, both of us, for the dirt!

A place the snobs always told us that we'd end up.

Face in the dust.

Humiliated all the more for having tried so pitifully hard.

Well, to hell with that!

We're not gonna let that happen, either of us.

We're gonna show those bums.

We're gonna make them choke on our continued success, our continued headlines, our continued awards and power and glory!

We are gonna make those motherfuckers choke!

Am l right?

You are. Except only one of us can win.

Yes.

And l shall be your fiercest adversary. l shall come at you with everything l got, because the limelight can only shine on one of us.

And for the other, it'll be the wilderness, with nothing and no one for company but those voices ringing in our head.

You can probably tell l've had a drink.

It's not too many. Just one or two.

But you believe me,

when the time comes, l'm gonna be focused and ready for battle.

Good night, Mr. Frost.

Good night, Mr. President.

So with or without cheese? l brought burgers.

David? l've got to work.

NlXON ON TAPE: Well, who was the asshole that did?

Jesus, is that Liddy?

He must be a little nuts.

HALDEMAN: Yeah, he is.

N lXON: l mean, he just isn\t well screwed on, is he?

Isn't that the problem?

Yeah, screw the Cabinet and the rest of those.

But no more sucking around. From now on, they come to me.

There is one thing that I want done, and I don\t want any argument about it.

I want you to direct the most trusted person you have in the lmmigration Service that they are to look over all the activities at the Los Angeles Times.

All, underlined. And they are to send their teams in to see whether they are violating the wetback thing.

Is that clear? MlTCHELL: Yes, sir.

(TAPE REWlN DlNG)

N lXON: You open that scab, there\s a hell of a lot of things that we just feel that it would be very detrimental to have this thing go any further.

(TELEPHON E RlNGlNG)

Hello?

Jim, it\s David.

Hey. What time is it?

How much longer are you gonna be in D.C. for?

Tuesday. Till Tuesday.

Great. Well, you remember you mentioned going to the Federal Courthouse library?

(BABY CRYlNG) Honey, can you check on him, please?

Yes, for the Colson stuff?

Well, l've been doing a little light reading this end, and you remember that hunch you had about the meeting between Nixon and Colson?

Uh-huh. What are you thinking?

(KNOCKlNG ON DOOR)

(KNOCKlNG CONTlN U ES)

Hey. Hey.

Good morning.

And?

(TRl UMPHANT lNSTRUMENTAL MUSlC PLAYlNG)

Excuse me, sir.

lt's 8:30. Bob, have you seen David?

No. No Frost, no Reston.

(ELEVATOR BELL DlNGS)

Morning. Good morning. Come on, let's go.

What's that about?

BlRT: First time he's late.

REPORTER: Mr. President!

(CROWD CLAMORlNG)

Morning.

(DOOR OPENS)

(lN DlSTlNCT)

Mr. President.

Mr. Frost.

DAVlS: Thirty seconds to tape roll !

Thirty seconds. Settling. Settle.

Well, if today's session is anything like our phone call, it should be explosive.

What phone call?

The phone call to my hotel room.

DAVlS: David, starting on camera three in four, three, two and. . .

Now, looking back on your final year in office, do you feel you ever obstructed justice or were part of a conspiracy to cover up or obstruct justice?

No.

And l'm interested that you used the term "obstruction of justice."

Now, you perhaps have not read the statute with regard to the obstruction of justice.

As it happens, l have.

You have, you say? Well, then, you'll know it doesn't just require an act. lt requires a specific corrupt motive.

And in this case, l didn't have a corrupt motive.

What l was doing was in the interests of political containment.

Be that as it may, the direct consequences of your actions would have been that two of the convicted burglars would have escaped criminal prosecution.

Now, how can that not be a cover-up or obstruction of justice?

Well, l think the record shows, Mr. Frost, that far from obstructing justice, l was actively facilitating it.

When Pat Gray of the FBl telephoned me, this was July 6, l said, "Pat, you go right ahead with your investigation."

That's hardly what you'd call obstructing justice.

Well, that may be, but for two weeks prior to July 6, we now know that you were desperately trying to contain or block the investigation.

No, no. Hang on a minute there. l wasn't. . .

No, no. Obstruction of justice is obstruction of justice, whether it's for a minute or five minutes, and it's no defense to say that your plan failed. l mean, if l try to rob a bank and fail, that's no defense. l still tried to rob the bank.

Will you just wait one minute there, Mr. Frost?

There is no evidence of any kind that l was. . .

Well, the reason there is no evidence is because 1 8 and a half minutes of the conversation with Bob Haldeman from this June period have mysteriously been erased.

That was an unfortunate oversight.

And Bob Haldeman is a rigorous and a conscientious note taker.

His notes are there for all to see.

Well, we found something rather better than his notes, a conversation with Charles Colson, which l don't think has ever been published.

Okay, here we go. lt hasn't been published, you say?

No, but one of my researchers found it in Washington where it's available to anyone who consults the records.

Well, l just wondered, you know, if we'd seen it.

More than seen it, Mr. President.

You spoke the actual words.

Now, you've always claimed you first learned of the break-in on June 23.

Yeah.

But this transcript of a tape made three days earlier clearly shows that to be a falsehood.

Now, in it you say to Colson, "This whole investigation rests

"unless one of the seven begins to talk.

"That's the problem."

Well, what do we mean when we say

"one of the seven beginning to talk"?

Then moving on to a conversation you had with John Dean on March 21 , the following year. ln one transcript alone, there in black and white, l picked out, and these are your words, one, "You could get $1 million, and you could get it in cash.

"l know where it could be gotten."

Two, "Your major guy to keep under control is Hunt."

Three, "Don't we have to handle the Hunt situation?"

Four, "Get the million bucks.

"lt would seem to me that would be worthwhile."

Five, "Don't you agree that you'd better get the Hunt thing going?"

Six, "First you've got the Hunt problem.

"That ought to be handled." Seven, "The money can be provided.

"Ehrlichman could provide the way to deliver it."

Eight, "We've no choice with Hunt

"but the $1 20,000 or whatever it is, right?"

Nine, "Christ, turn over any cash we've got."

And l could go on. Now, it seems to me that someone running a cover-up couldn't have expressed it more clearly than that, could they?

Look, let me just stop you now right there, because you're doing something here which l am not doing, and l will not do throughout these entire broadcasts.

You're quoting me out of context, out of order. And l might add, l have participated in all these interviews without a single note in front of me.

Well, it is your life, Mr. President.

Now, you've always maintained that you knew nothing about any of this until March 21 .

But in February, your personal lawyer came to Washington to start the raising of $21 9,000 of hush money to be paid to the burglars.

Now, do you seriously expect us to believe that you had no knowledge of that?

None. l believed the money was for humanitarian purposes.

To help disadvantaged people with their defenses.

Well, it was being delivered on the tops of phone booths with aliases, and at airports by people with gloves on.

That's not normally the way lawyers' fees are delivered, is it?

Look, l have made statements to this effect before.

All that was Haldeman and Ehrlichman's business. l knew nothing. Okay, fine. Fine!

You made a conclusion there. l stated my view, now let's move on.

Let's get on to the rest of it.

No, hold on. No, hold on.

No, l don't want to talk. . . lf Haldeman and Ehrlichman were the ones really responsible, when you subsequently found out about it, why didn't you call the police and have them arrested? lsn't that just a cover-up of another kind?

Yeah, maybe l should have done that. Maybe l should have.

Just called the feds into my office and said, "Hey, there's the two men.

"Haul them down to the dock, "fingerprint them and then throw them in the can." l'm not made that way.

These men, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, l knew their families. l knew them since they were just kids.

Yeah, but you know, politically, the pressure on me to let them go, that became overwhelming !

So l did it. l cut off one arm, then l cut off the other, and l'm not a good butcher!

And l have always maintained what they were doing, what we were all doing, was not criminal.

Look, when you're in office, you gotta do a lot of things sometimes that are not always, in the strictest sense of the law, legal, but you do them because they're in the greater interests of the nation !

Right. Wait, just so l understand correctly, are you really saying that in certain situations, the President can decide whether it's in the best interests of the nation and then do something illegal? l'm saying that when the President does it, that means it's not illegal.

l'm sorry?

That's what l believe.

Oh, my God.

But l realize no one else shares that view.

So, in that case, will you accept, then, to clear the air once and for all, that you were part of a cover-up and that you did break the law?

Oh, my God, we got him. N IXON: I...

Shit!

(DOOR OPENS)

Okay, let's take a break there.

What the fuck is going on?

Cut it. Cut it.

Excuse me? Shut it down.

Shut it down now.

DAVlS: That's not my call. You're gonna have to talk to the director.

He's in that truck out there. BREN NAN : Get him in here.

DAVlS: Listen, we have an issue in here.

Jack, what are you doing? A break?

Change the tapes.

David, can l talk to you for a minute, please?

What the hell is going on, Jack?

He was about to blow and you know it.

Fellas, this is a critical moment in his life.

You realize we could sue you for this?

You have deliberately sabotaged the interview, Jack.

BREN NAN : Look, we're all in this together. l'm sure we can find a solution.

ZELN lCK: A solution? What the hell are you talking about? lt's an interview!

KHACH lGlAN : Bob, may l remind you. . .

BlRT: This is a breach of contract. We could sue.

(ALL ARGU lNG)

For heaven's sake, Jim. Why don't you give him a week off?

Give him a year off!

Give him a fucking massage!

GAN NON : Watch your language, for crying out loud.

(ALL ARGU lNG)

(KNOCKlNG ON DOOR)

What'd you do? Throw in the towel, Jack?

Did you take pity on me?

Sir, l just felt that if you were going to make some kind of emotional disclosure, that we should just take a moment to think it through, sketch it out. l just want to impress upon you how crucially important this moment is and how many potentially devastating consequences unplanned emotional disclosures could have. l know.

But to go on and carry on denying it all. . .


l appreciate the gesture.

We ought to call it a snafu.

(WH lSPERlNG)

Jack, are we on?

We're on. Okay, he's had plenty of time to cook up some sort of slippery new bullshit, so stay on your toes.

Listen, it's gonna be fine. Pick up where you left off.


Thirty seconds, everyone.

DAVlS: Ten seconds.

David? Four, three, two, and. . .

Mr. President, we were talking about the period March 21 to April 30, and the mistakes you made, and so on, and l was wondering

would you go further than "mistakes"?

The word that seems not enough for people to understand.

Well, what word would you express?

(EXCLAlMS lN DlSBELlEF)

My goodness.

All right.

Since you've asked me, l think there are three things that people would like to hear you say.

One, that there was probably more than mistakes.

There was wrongdoing.

And, yes, it might have been a crime, too.

Secondly, that "l did abuse the power l had as President."

And thirdly, "l put the American people

"through two years of needless agony, "and l apologize for that." And l know how difficult it is for anyone, especially you, but l think the people need to hear it.

And l think that unless you say it, you're going to be haunted for the rest of your life.

Well, it's true. l made mistakes, horrendous ones, ones that were not worthy of a president,

ones that did not meet the standards of excellence that l always dreamed of as a young boy.

But, if you remember, it was a difficult time. l was caught up in a five-front war against a partisan media, a partisan House of Congress, a partisan Ervin Committee.

But, yes, l will admit there were times l did not fully meet that responsibility and l was involved in a cover-up, as you call it.

And for all those mistakes l have a very deep regret.

No one can know what it's like to resign the presidency.

Now, if you want me to get down on the floor and grovel. . .

No! Never! l still insist they were mistakes of the heart.

They were not mistakes of the head.

But they were my mistakes. l don't blame anybody. l brought myself down.

l gave them a sword, and they stuck it in, and they twisted it with relish.

And l guess if l'd been in their place, l'd have done the same thing.

And the American people?

l let them down.

l let down my friends.

l let down the country.

And worst of all,

l let down our system of government.

And the dreams of all those young people that ought to get into government, but now they think, "lt's all too corrupt," and the rest.

Yeah.

(SlGHS) l let the American people down,

and l'm gonna have to carry that burden with me for the rest of my life.

My political life is over.


You know, the first and greatest sin or deception of television is that it simplifies, it diminishes, great, complex ideas, tranches of time.

Whole careers become reduced to a single snapshot.

At first, l couldn't understand why Bob Zelnick was quite as euphoric as he was after the interviews,

or why John Birt felt moved to strip naked and rush into the ocean to celebrate.

But that was before l really understood the reductive power of the close-up.

Because David had succeeded on that final day in getting, for a fleeting moment, what no investigative journalist, no state prosecutor, no judiciary committee or political enemy had managed to get.

Richard Nixon\s face, swollen and ravaged by loneliness, self-loathing and defeat.

The rest of the project and its failings would not only be forgotten, they would totally cease to exist.

(CAMERAS CLlCKlNG)

(REPORTERS CLAMORlNG)

REPORTER: Who came out on top, Mr. President?

ls this what you call a dachshund?

Mmm-hmm.

Very sweet.

(ENGlN E STARTlNG)

The Nixon/Frost interviews were wildly successful. l think they attracted the largest audience for a news program in the history of American television.

David was on the cover of Time magazine and Newsweek magazine.

And even the political press corps, the hard-bitten political press corps, called David up with messages of contrition and congratulation.

David, l want to say congratulations.

The interviews?

No, l didn't watch them. l couldn't.

(DlSCO MUSlC PLAYlNG)

Hey.

Hello.

l believe David saw the former President just one more time.

Before he left California for London again, he drove down to San Clemente to say goodbye.

Hey, Mr. Frost. lt's nice to see you.

Miss Cushing. Hello.

Please excuse my golf outfit. lt's the official uniform of the retired.

Are you on your way home?

Yes. lnto a bright new dawn of fresh enterprises and challenges, eh?

Well, let's hope so.

Good for you. l didn't catch the interviews as they went out, but they tell me that they were a great success. l gather the journalists that were so positive about you weren't so kind to me.

Yes, l was sorry to see that.

There's no condolences necessary. l've grown to expect nothing else from those sons of whores.

Yeah.

Jeez, please forgive me, Miss Cushing.

You know, l would've said "sons of bitches," but Manolo here is a lover of dogs, and he hates me to defame animals.

Can l get something for somebody?

Yes. Would you like some tea or champagne?

Hey, you know, we got that caviar the Shah of lran sent me.

No, thank you. You sure?

Come on. lt'll be no trouble at all.

No, really, we must be. . .

Okay, fine, fine. Thanks for coming by.

You were a worthy opponent.

Goodbye, Mr. President.

Bye-bye.

Goodbye, Mr. President.

Goodbye.

Oh, God ! l almost forgot. l. . . l brought you a present, those shoes you admired. l brought you a pair.

Well, jeez. Thank you.

l'm touched. Safe trip, now.

Oh ! Say, David, you think l could speak to you, privately, just for a minute?

Do you know those parties of yours?

The ones that l read about in all the papers?

Do you actually enjoy those?

Of course.

You got no idea how fortunate that makes you.

You know? Liking people, and being liked.

Having that facility, that lightness, that charm. l don't have it. l never did. lt kind of makes you wonder why l chose a life that hinged on being liked. l'm better suited to a life of thought, debate, intellectual discipline.

Maybe we got it wrong.

Maybe you should have been a politician and l the rigorous interviewer.

Maybe.

David.

Did l really call you that night?

Yes.

Did we discuss anything important?

Cheeseburgers.

Cheeseburgers?

Goodbye, sir.

RESTON: Well, New York, London and Sydney welcomed David back with open arms, as did his friends and investors, who\ve made a fortune from these interviews.

He got back all of his shows.

He even got back his table at Sardi\s.

As for Richard Nixon, well, he certainly never achieved the rehabilitation he so desperately craved.

His most lasting legacy is that today any political wrongdoing