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'Frost/Nixon' Trailer

A series of news reports document the role of Richard Nixon in the 1972 Watergate scandal, prior to his 1974 resignation speech. Meanwhile, David Frost has finished recording an episode of his talk show in Australia and watches on television as Nixon leaves the White House.nnA few weeks later in the London Weekend Television (LWT) central office, Frost discusses the possibility of an interview with his producer and friend, John Birt. When Frost mentions Nixon as the subject, Birt doubts that Nixon will be willing to talk to Frost. Frost then tells Birt that 400 million people watched President Nixon's resignation on live television.nnNixon is recovering from phlebitis at La Casa Pacifica in San Clemente, California. He is discussing his memoirs when his literary agent, Irving "Swifty" Lazar, arrives to inform the former president of a request by Frost to interview him. Nixon rejects the proposal out-of-hand until he hears of Frost's extraordinary offer to pay Nixon $500,000. Nixon is interested and instructs Lazar to haggle; a deal is struck for $600,000. Frost and Birt fly to California to meet with Nixon. On the plane Frost meets Caroline Cushing, with whom he begins a relationship. At La Casa Pacifica, Frost makes an advance payment of $200,000 using his personal checkbook. However, Nixon's post-presidential chief of staff, Jack Brennan, expresses doubts that Frost will be able to pay the entire amount.nnFrost tries to sell the interviews to the U.S. broadcast networks, but they all turn him down, partly due to Frost's lightweight reputation and partly due to the unprecedented payment to Nixon. Frost decides to finance the project with private money and syndicate the broadcast of the interviews. He hires two investigators — Bob Zelnick and James Reston Jr. — to help him prepare along with Birt. During the research process, Reston mentions a lead in the Federal Courthouse in Washington that he thinks he can lock down with a week of work, but Frost, over-confident, decides against it.nnDespite being put on notice by Nixon and being warned by his own team, Frost does not fully realize the adversarial nature of the interviews and their importance to both the participants' future. Over the first three recording sessions, each two and a half hours long, Frost struggles to ask planned questions of Nixon. Nixon, well-prepared and canny, is able to take up much of the time during these sessions giving lengthy and self-serving monologues, preventing Frost from challenging him. The former president fences ably on Vietnam and is able to dominate in the area where he had substantial achievements — foreign policy related to Russia and China. Frost's editorial team appear to be breaking apart as Zelnick and Reston express anger that Nixon appears to be exonerating himself, and Reston belittles Frost's abilities as an interviewer.nnFour days before the final session, which will center on Watergate, Frost is in his hotel room, waiting for Caroline to call him from Trader Vic's regarding his choice for take-out food. The phone rings, and Frost, believing it to be Caroline calling, answers "I'll have a cheeseburger." He is astonished to discover that it is actually an inebriated Nixon at the other end of the line. Nixon drunkenly tells Frost that they both know the final interview will make or break their careers. If Frost fails to implicate Nixon definitively in the Watergate scandal, then Frost will have allowed Nixon to revive his political career at Frost's expense. He will thus have an unsellable series of interviews and be bankrupted. Nixon expresses his knowledge that he and Frost share a common background and psychological motivation: both had to struggle against the elite to make it to the top of their respective fields, only to be mocked and brutally knocked back down. Frost gains new insight into his subject, and perhaps also into himself. But, despite their parallel experiences, Nixon goes on to assure Frost that he will do everything in his power to emerge the victor from the final interview.nnThe conversation spurs Frost into action. Having spent most of his time selling the show to networks, gaining advertisers, and participating in entertainment industry parties, Frost resolves to ensure the final interview will be successful. He calls Reston and tells him to follow up on the federal courthouse hunch and works relentlessly for three days to prepare.nnAs the final recording begins, Frost is a much more assertive and effective adversary, ambushing Nixon with new and damning information about Charles Colson, resulting in Nixon admitting that he did unethical things. Nixon attempts to defend himself with the statement, "When the President does it, that means it's not illegal." Frost, shocked by this statement, is on the verge of inducing the president to admit he took part in a cover-up, at which point Brennan bursts in and stops the recording before Nixon further incriminates himself. After Nixon and Brennan confer in a side room, Nixon returns to the interview, admits that he participated in a cover-up and that he "let the American people down".nnShortly before Frost returns to England, he and Caroline visit Nixon at his villa. Frost thanks Nixon for the interviews and presents him with a gift pair of Italian shoes that Nixon mentioned during their first meeting. Nixon is reluctant about wearing shoes without shoelaces and sees them as effeminate. Nixon, realizing he has lost, however, graciously thanks Frost and wishes him well in future endeavors. Nixon then asks to speak to Frost privately. Nixon asks if he had really called Frost before the final interview and if they had spoken about anything important. Frost replies that Nixon did indeed call and they talked about cheeseburgers. Reston says that Nixon's lasting legacy was the suffix "gate" being added to any political scandal. The epilogue tells that the interviews were wildly successful and that Nixon wrote a 1,000 page memoir, but never escaped controversy until his death in 1994.nnNixon watches David Frost and Caroline Cushing leave and then leans over a railing of his villa, looking out at the sunset and contemplating the future.

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