'Frost/Nixon' Is a 'Truly Titanic' Production

After viewing a London preview, the typically hyperbolic Frost declared the play "brilliantly written, brilliantly directed and brilliantly acted … as exciting a night as you are likely to get in the theater this year."

At First, Rife With Error

However, Frost also pointed out a series of factual errors in the script, some with stunning dramatic license.

For example, Morgan scripted a drunken late-night telephone call from Nixon to Frost. Declaring they have much in common -- they both came from modest circumstances and have been lifelong victims of snobbery -- the Nixon character goes on to declare both men "headed for the dirt … the place the snobs told us we'd always wind up."

The scene "captures the Nixonian self-pity and his sense of being the wrong side of the tracks," Frost told an interviewer. But unlike Nixon, Frost said he wanted to make it clear that "I never felt I was born on the wrong side of the tracks."

Almost 30 years later, the Frost-Nixon interviews remain an arresting case of checkbook journalism. Nixon's participation earned him $600,000 plus a 20 percent cut of the profits that may have boosted his earnings to $1 million. Incapable of selling the broadcast rights to a national television network, Frost peddled the syndication rights to 155 local stations and 10 foreign broadcast systems, also earning as much as $1 million in the process.

At the conclusion of "Frost/Nixon," the audience is told that the stupendous success of the interviews ultimately reflected Frost's instinctive grasp that politics and show business had become one.

"Finally, my play is not about politics," Morgan said, "but a play about the power of television, and I quite prefer it that way."

It appears destined to have a long life, as Ron Howard has purchased the motion picture rights. Filming is scheduled for this summer, and although Warren Beatty and Kevin Spacey are reportedly both vying for the opportunity to portray Nixon, Langella is negotiating to reprise his stage performance on film. Sheen has already been signed to be the screen Frost.

The play -- Tony Award or no Tony Award -- is scheduled to continue holding court at Broadway's Bernard J. Jacobs Theatre through Aug. 19.

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