**UPLOADER'S NOTES** - These are the full and unedited interviews originally broadcast in 1977, not just the highlights (88 min, also available on DVD). There was a problem with the rip on one disc, so two of the five interviews are included in the clip entitled 'FNI - Watergate, Nixon and the World", because they would not rip properly into two files. I assume this was a tech error by the manufacturer.
Please keep in mind that this IS NOT THE 2008 FILM!! These are the actual interviews upon which the play and film were based.
The Nixon Interviews were a series of interviews of former United States President Richard M. Nixon conducted by British journalist David Frost. They were recorded and broadcast on television in four programs in 1977. The interviews became the subject of the play Frost/Nixon, which was later made into a film; both starred Michael Sheen as Frost and Frank Langella as Nixon.
After his resignation in 1974, Nixon spent more than two years away from public life. In 1977, in an attempt to rehabilitate his image, he granted Frost an exclusive series of interviews. Nixon was already publishing memoirs at the time; however, his publicist Irving "Swifty" Lazar believed that by using television Nixon could reach a mass audience. At the same time, Frost also sought redemption because his New York-based talk show had been recently cancelled, leaving him consigned to a career based around the stories covered by the proto-reality show Great Escapes. As Frost had agreed to pay Nixon $600,000 for the interviews, the American news networks were not interested, as they regarded it as checkbook journalism. They refused to distribute the program, forcing Frost and a group of investors to syndicate the series themselves.
Frost recruited James Reston Jr. and ABC News producer Bob Zelnick to evaluate the Watergate minutiae prior to the interview. This allowed Frost to take control of the interview by revealing details of a previously unknown conversation between Nixon and Charles Colson, which proved that Nixon had obstructed justice.
Frost personally funded the project while seeking other investors, who eventually bought the air time themselves and syndicated the four programs. Nixon's negotiated fee was $600,000 and a 20 percent share of any profits.
Nixon chief of staff Jack Brennan negotiated the terms of the interview with Frost. Nixon's staff assumed that Frost would be easily outwitted, and that the interview would be an opportunity for the disgraced politician to restore his reputation with the public. Previously, in 1968, Frost interviewed Nixon in a manner described by Time magazine as "so softly that in 1970 President Richard Nixon ferried Frost and Mum to the White House, where the Englishman was appointed to produce a show in celebration of the American Christmas."
The interviews began on March 23, 1977 and lasted 12 days. They were taped for two hours a day, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, for a total of 28 hours and 45 minutes. Recording took place at a seaside home in Monarch Bay, California owned by Mr. and Mrs. Harold H. Smith, who were both longtime Nixon supporters. This location was chosen instead of Nixon's San Clemente home, La Casa Pacifica, due to radio signals from the nearby Coast Guard navigational-aid transmitters interfering with the television equipment. The Smith home was rented on a part-time basis for one month at a cost of $6,000.
The interviews were broadcast in the US and some other countries in 1977. They were edited into four programs, each 90 minutes long.
In the weeks leading up to the interviews with Nixon, David Frost was interviewed by Mike Wallace of CBS's 60 Minutes, the same news organization that Frost had "scooped" (CBS had also been in negotiations to interview Nixon, but Frost outbid them). Frost talked about looking forward to Nixon's "cascade of candor".
Part 1, broadcast on 4 May 1977, focused on the Watergate scandal, with Frost opening with the blunt question, "Why didn't you burn the tapes?" That premiere episode drew 45 million viewers, the largest television audience for a political interview in history — a record which still stands today. Part 2 was broadcast 12 May 1977. In Part 3, broadcast on 19 May 1977, Frost asked Nixon about the legality of the president's actions. Nixon replied: "Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal." Part 4 was broadcast 25 May 1977.
A Gallup poll conducted after the interviews aired showed that 69 percent of the public thought that Nixon was still trying to cover up, 72 percent still thought he was guilty of obstruction of justice, and 75 percent thought he deserved no further role in public life.
Frost was expected to make $1 million from the interviews.