I have been attending the junket for Ron Howard‘s new movie, Rush, this morning. It was between chats with some of the cast that Twitter alerted me to the terrible news of the passing of David Frost.
As you might expect, Howard’s previous collaboration with screenwriter Peter Morgan, Frost/Nixon, immediately came to mind.
I definitely wouldn’t have broached the subject with Howard – for one thing, I wouldn’t want to be the one to break the news to him, most certainly not in the context of a junket. However, right after I walked into to our interview, shook Howard’s hand and sat down, he immediately started speaking about Frost.
Here’s a transcript of that portion of our chat.
Ron Howard: I was sad to hear about Sir David Frost. Sad news.
BC: Indeed. He was almost part of my DNA I feel, really.
RH: I really enjoyed getting to know him on Frost/Nixon. It was a pleasure. He was bright, funny, witty all of those things. I really admired and respected his entrepreneurial side. He was a great personality, he was fast, funny, smart but he also had a kind of audacity or courage that I really admired, both in terms of the way he tackled his work but also what he thought about. He was a pioneer as a producer.
BC: He changed the face of British television.
RH: American too, because when he did those Nixon interviews he proved the viability of another network. When he came in and did the Nixon interviews and the networks turned him down he did it his own way, selling it off to stations and bundling them together, then them airing it at the same time. That sent a signal to the world, eventually to the Barry Dillers and Rupert Murdochs of the world, that the United States could actually have, and that there were ratings to be had in a fourth network. That was a gutsy move he made.
That very much reflects on the spirit of Frost as shown in Howard’s film, something else beyond the raconteur I knew from the TV of my youth and the satirist I came to respect very deeply indeed as I came into my teens. This speaks, I think, to the breadth and depth of the man’s contribution to our culture.