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December 4, 2008 - Phyllis Sigal

It's a play, soon to be a movie, but most importantly it was a piece of history.

The interviews that British talk show host David Frost conducted with Richard Nixon ended with an understood admission of guilt regarding Nixon's role in the Watergate scandal.

How did he accomplish that? That seems to be the question. Why Frost? He was just a talk show host.

Frost's series of interviews with Nixon in 1977 made for compelling television back then. I don't particularly remember it; I was a college student , and had more important things to do, I suppose. The original interviews have just been made available in DVD format.

I just saw the play at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh; it runs through Dec. 7. Stacy Keach played Nixon while Alan Cox was David Frost in the play by British screenwriter and dramatist Peter Morgan.

Following the performance at the Benedum's opening night, Dec. 5, a panel discussion was held. About 100 or so people who had watched the play stayed for the discussion.

Moderator was KDKA-TV's money and politics editor Jon Delano. Panel members included Ken Gormley, Margaret Patterson, Christopher Bonneau, Brenton Malin and Van Beck Hall - all professors at the University of Pittsburgh or Duquesne University.

Delano remembered being glued to his black-and-white television in his college dorm room. Gormley has written extensively on the Watergate scandal as well as Nixon's presidency.

I'm curious as to why now ... why has this part of history come to the forefront, right now?

The movie, the actual interviews, the play. Every time I've turned on the television or radio lately, there's something about Frost/Nixon.

What's the attraction to the event? Why now?

Any thoughts?


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