Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Presidential Plattitudes

When Oliver Platt blazes onto the screen as White House counsel Oliver Babish in "West Wing" 2:19, called in to grapple with a brewing scandal about President Bartlett's health, he's an instant Nixon three-fer. In his first scene, fumbling with a microcassette recorder, he says, "It's stuck on record. It won't stop recording things. It's just what you want lying around the White House counsel's office, because there's never been a problem with that before." Platt also shows up in the best Nixon movie ever, "Frost/Nixon," playing one of British journalist David Frost's researchers, Bob Zelnick.

Finally, Platt's the son of diplomat Nicholas Platt, who accompanied Nixon to China in 1972 and later served as president of the Asia Society. The actor talked about the Nixon-Platt connection in an April 2010 interview with NPR's Terry Gross:
We were living in Japan when Nixon resigned. And I remember, very clearly, we were driving out to the country and the news came over the radio. My parents pulled the car over and they told us all to listen.... [My father] actually just published a memoir about it called China Boys, about the opening of China; and he really had a remarkable perspective on it. He literally - he has a home movie, you know, of Nixon getting off the plane and shaking Zhou Enlai's hand and he's standing literally, you know, 15 yards away from him when that happened. And so he really, I think my father had complicated feelings about it.

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