Last night, Frost/Nixon director Ron Howard appeared on The Daily Show for the customary six-and-a-half-minute interview. He spoke about how nearly everyone he met when he was researching the film felt obliged to do a really awful Nixon impression, and, to illustrate the point, did one himself. Before you watch it, be warned: Ron is not wearing his baseball cap and is directly facing the camera, so the effect is not what it would be if this were an old Happy Days episode with Richie getting a laugh out of the gang at Arnold’s, but instead makes one wonder if the director might follow up his new film by resuming acting to star in a remake of Silent Honor directed by David Cronenberg.
(Speaking of Nixon impressions, in the interview to which John Taylor linked here some days ago, Frost/Nixon’s Frank Langella mentioned that before the decision was made to have him repeat his acclaimed stage performance as RN on celluoid, Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, and Kevin Spacey had wanted to do the role, as had already been noted in a number of articles when the film was in its early stages. But Langella also stated that Dan Aykroyd had gunned for the part as well. The idea of old Dan repeating his popular Saturday Night Life portrayal of thirty years ago as high drama instead of comedy thoroughly boggles the mind.)
Also noteworthy is Jon Stewart’s praise of Howard’s online Obama endorsement starring himself, Andy Griffith and Henry Winkler, which I discussed in a post here in October. Stewart told Ron that he was a “kingmaker,” and though the director modestly demurred, I think there might be something to this. As I said in the previous post, for Howard to get as revered a figure as Andy Griffith to appear in the spot was quite a coup, even though the concluding dialogue with the Fonz diminished its overall effectiveness to some degree.
The clip got an enormous number of views, and it may well have helped put the President-elect over the top in states such as North Carolina, Virginia, and Indiana, where The Andy Griffith Show is very much a bedrock cultural reference point to this day. And it may also have helped in Florida, which, by virtue of having the largest population of retirees in the nation, thereby has the largest population of residents who watch Matlock whenever it’s on. Ergo, it seems a pretty solid bet that Ron will spend at least one night in the Lincoln Bedroom in the next four years. Won’t that be something to tell the folks back in Mayberry?