Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hey, Kathy: When Did Ron Meet Richard?

Peter Morgan (left), Ron Howard, and Kathy O'Connor

Apparently, you don't have watch "The View." Someone prepares a State Department-like memcon. From today's show:
Ron Howard appeared on the show. He received an Oscar nomination for best director for Frost/Nixon. He said that it is a real thrill and it never gets old. Ron said that it is a surprising and unusual story based on the behind-the-scenes drama of the interview. Barbara loved the play and the movie. She mentioned again that she did an interview with Nixon three years later that was unpaid and asked Ron if he was going to do her film. He said that he will see how this film does first.

Ron met Nixon once briefly and doesn’t think he would have seen the movie, noting that Tony Blair never saw The Queen. He said that Frank Langella did a wonderful job capturing Richard Nixon and has gotten a lot of positive feedback. He saw both actors in the play and wanted to make a movie version with them in it, but knew it would be a tough sell with the movie studio. Ron was sent audition tapes by Academy Award winning actors who wanted to be considered.
I'll have to ask my wife and Nixon colleague Kathy O'Connor when and where the P. and Howard met. When I was the former President's aide in the 1980s in New York, I got a call from Brian Grazer, Howard's production partner, who said that the director was interested in Nixon and wanted to do something that was more friendly than we might expect from Hollywood. Nothing came of it at the time, although by my lights "Frost/Nixon" fills the bill admirably.

At least I was able to fulfill my journalist mother's wish that the suggestion somehow be lodged at Hollywood's loftiest level that Tom Hanks one day be cast as Richard Nixon. I pitched it to Howard himself in the Nixon Foundation men's room when he and "Frost/Nixon" playwright Peter Morgan visited the Library in December 2006 as they were preparing to do the movie. The idea lived for at least 15 minutes, since a colleague overheard Howard ask Morgan in the elevator, "So what do you think about Tom for Nixon?" But Frank Langella (now nominated for best actor) already owned the part.

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