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Journalist on Journalist Action

FrostNixonMovie After winning raves for portraying The New Republic Editor Charles Lane in Shattered Glass, Peter Sarsgaard said something to me I found rather insightful. "If you ever want journalists to like you...play a good one." Judging by the warm reception at last night's critic's screening of Frost/Nixon, I'd say he's onto something.

David Frost wasn't known for his hard-hitting journalism skills--he was a fluffy British talk show host with a playboy reputation and a questionable work ethic. Yet he's the "unlikely White Knight" of Frost/Nixon, Ron Howard's new film based on Peter Morgan's play. Was finally able to see the film version last night and I'm not the best person to review it, so I won't. Simply put, the stage production is one of the best plays I've ever seen and I fear any other version would pale by comparison. I can say objectively that the movie version does a great job of translating the play to screen (Morgan also wrote the screenplay) and the cast is uniformly excellent.

I'm thrilled to hear that both leads, Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, are being placed in the lead category. I mean, the film is called Frost/Nixon for Pete's sake, but I was starting to wonder if Universal Pictures would try and shift Sheen to supporting in order to keep the two from competing against each other. Which would have been ridiculous--when you get right down to it, the film is more Frost's story, not Nixon's.

Langella won the Tony for his turn as Nixon, but he was not the first choice for the role in the film. In fact, he was the last actor to sign on, after Sheen (also reprising his role from the play), Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, and Oliver Platt. We talked about it last year in an interview here. Of particular interest is the part where he reveals the role was originally going to be played by Warren Beatty and when I asked Langella if he took it personally, he responded: "Not at all. I knew for months and months, and I accepted it. It's a business. At that point, they felt they needed someone with more of an international name. I don't know why Warren and Universal separated; I've never asked. Ron called me and said, 'Would you like to come and play?' And I said, 'Of course I would; thank you for asking.' "

--Jenelle Riley

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