Why Hollywood Still Loves Watergate: Fifty Years Later, The Scandal Inspires ‘Gaslit’ And More

in Starzis the new gaslit, Premiere Sunday, Mid watergate Shape john dean Played by Dan Stevens. in white house plumber, an upcoming HBO limited series, Dean is portrayed by Domhnall Gleeson. and in Last Witness: WatergateIn an upcoming four-part CNN original series, Dean himself will “confront his involvement in the biggest presidential scandal of the 20th century,” in the words of the network.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the June 17, 1972, break-in at the Watergate campus, the “third-rate theft” that toppled a presidency, Hollywood is still mining scandal for story , is drawing on new perspectives and points, even as many of the central figures have long since passed, the infamous aspects of Watergate have faded into memory, and DC needs many other such moments of abuse of power. have been caught which are arguably of far greater consequence. (Note: 6 January).

“Watergate is one of those stories where hubris brings nemesis,” says Tim Naftali, a New York University professor and former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. “It creates a source of optimism for those who felt that Donald Trump somehow escaped justice, a kind of escape. And so Watergate is the story of a president who abuses power, a criminal conspiracy.” takes part in, and then suffers the greatest possible loss to him, which is the presidency, and he resigns in disgrace as the first president to do so.

“The story is engaging, featuring strange and wonderful characters Martha Mitchell, but it is also a play that stands out from what we have all seen. And I think it will be a source of questions about how we have changed, how the media has changed, how the Republican Party has changed since the 1970s.

Not only has Watergate’s perceptions been shaped from the outset by the flood of books and documentaries following the resignation of Richard Nixon, but film and TV projects that have held the scandal as a means to measure everything else.

all president’s men One of the greatest classics of filmmaking of all time, and probably did more to keep Watergate in its realm of relevance than any other film. But it is also one of a genre of projects inspired by Watergate during the past five decades, such as Oliver Stones. Nixon, mini chain Washington behind closed doors And last day; and even comic satire gender, built in the late 1990s. Dean’s own Watergate memoir, blind ambitionwas turned into a largely forgotten miniseries in the late 1970s, this time with Martin Sheen in the title role.

(LR) Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in “All the President’s Men” in 1976
Everett

dwight chapinwho served as Nixon’s appointing secretary and deputy assistant during his presidency and wrote a recent book on his experience, President’s Manu, says there is a constant curiosity factor, driven by a tendency to label any type of scam with a “-gate”. But the ongoing attraction, he suggested, is also that there are too many facets to the story.

He says he focused on group interviews as part of the renovation of the Richard Nixon Library and that Watergate would come out as a curiosity. what was it? And of course the simple answer is that it was a break-in at the Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Hotel, which is how it got its name. But for those who begin to break into Watergate, there are many facets to it. … it can get complicated so quickly when you’re trying to explain it to someone.”

What some new projects outside Nixon have in common are those in the Oval Office. Universal is developing an adaptation of Rachel Maddow’s podcast bag value, which will tell the story of another chapter from that era: the scandal that engulfed Vice President Spiro Agnew, who was forced to resign in 1973 after no contest on a tax-evasion allegation known as the Watergate scandal. In the midst of a bribery investigation in was opening. a netflix documentary, Martha Mitchell Effect, The attorney general’s wife and later Nixon election campaign focuses on the president. John Mitchell,

gaslitA seven-part series that focuses on lesser-known or even forgotten figures from Watergate—including the chairman of Nixon’s re-election campaign and former Attorney General Mitchell and his wife—the podcast draws its inspiration from let’s take slow burn,

all president’s men played like a thriller and stone Nixon Like a tragedy, but of Watergate gaslit Throws light on human weakness, collusion and inequalities.

“John Oliver used to call the Trump-Russia scandals ‘stupid Watergate,’ and I’ve always looked at them and thought, ‘Well, Watergate was stupid,'” gaslit Executive Producer Robbie Pickering it is said. “I think we’re all at a certain base level – stupid – and that comes from emotional need and emotional disturbance. But the Watergate stories I think keep being told because maybe it’s this form of wish fulfillment, because This is the only time the most powerful were taken into account.

He says the series uses theatrical license, but “without violating what we see as the truth of what happened.”

gaslit portrays Michelle’s relationship with Julia Roberts and Sean Penn, as the main characters, as a “Virginia Woolf”-style marriage, as Pickering puts it: love yet extraordinarily stormy.

Martha John Mitchell
Martha John Mitchell on her way to make a statement about the Watergate case on May 3, 1973 in New York City
AP

In 1972, Martha Mitchell had already become a celebrity, whose love of gabbing with the press helped earn her place in games and talk shows. It was also called the “mouth of the south”. But she also faced issues with mental health and alcoholism, some of which took hold. Gaslit. Yet she emerges in the limited series as one of Watergate’s heroic figures, an eventual threat to the President’s men as she too quickly links the administration to a break-in.

The weekend of the theft, he and Michelle were at a fundraising event in Southern California. When informed of the thieves’ arrest, John Mitchell heads back to DC and drops his wife at the Newporter Inn in Newport Beach, with her access to a phone under guard and supervision. in gaslit, Her imprisonment ends in a brutal confrontation with her husband’s chosen bodyguard. She falls through a glass table, and is eventually restrained and unconscious.

“Much of Martha’s history sees her as this object of hatred, annoyance, or pity,” Pickering says. “And it’s like ‘Man, this woman told the truth in front of them all.’ Who cares if he had mental problems or alcohol problems or whatever? He should be seen as a truth teller. If John Dean is seen as a great truth-teller, from the very beginning when he Was, was plotting, and only from a certain point of view. You see it he testified only for convenience, well that’s why John Dean is lionized as the protagonist for the rest of the time, but Martha is forgotten?

Dean, who was a White House counsel, is pictured gaslit A little more opportunistic than other Watergate retrospectives, which have focused on Dean’s role as key witness during a 1973 trial in which he testified in a cover-up that extended to the president himself. The project also uncovers an early bumpy relationship between Dean and Maureen Kane (Betty Gilpin), a flight attendant who later becomes his wife.

was not consulted for gaslit, As Pickering puts it, there was already an extensive public record of his story. Dean declined to comment for Deadline, but the upcoming project “promises to shed new light on back-channeling, back-pedaling, and backstabbing, much more than what is under oath.”

Pickering says, “They got their version of the story out there. Martha Mitchell didn’t get a chance to do that. It’s the only person I wanted to talk to, or her kids, but her kids are extremely private.”

gaslit EP Robbie PickeringI think the stories of Watergate keep getting heard because maybe it’s this form of wish fulfillment, because it’s the only time the most powerful were largely taken into account.

Chapin served nine months in prison after being found guilty of lying before a grand jury, although his case had nothing to do with the Watergate break-in or cover-up. he is not pictured gaslit And he hasn’t seen it, but he reminds gaslit And other projects are entertainment dramatization, including the projects where he is featured. “It’s very difficult to identify with it because it’s not exactly how it happened,” he says.

The last 50 years have seen many counter-narratives for those in the early years following Nixon’s resignation. “This is the side of what really happened at Watergate,” says Chapin.

In his book, Chapin offers a view that challenges Dean’s image as a heroic figure, rather someone who has taken much of the responsibility of besieging the White House in the dark while keeping Nixon in the dark. . He argues that Dean was aware of the breakdown of the plans and is “at the center of it all,” but never tells. [chief of staff} Bob Haldeman, his boss, or Richard Nixon that he knew anything, so Nixon is in the dark.”

“Nixon viewed [Watergate] As, in fact, he uses the term, this was actually his last campaign. And he lost. But it was a campaign to get him,” Chapin says.

It’s a version that has been featured in several movies and books – including those that will come out over the next few months. Chapin says that he found reporter Carl Bernstein while he was living in East Hampton, NY, and the historical fiction proved to be a subject of debate. At breakfast and lunch, says Chapin, they would argue about their version of events. “He’s 180 degrees away from Nixon. I’m on one side, that on the other.”

Chapin has a more nuanced view of Martha Mitchell. He argues that at the time, he was exploited by the media, and as they made him a “folk hero whistleblower”, it also accelerated his downfall.

In his book, Chapin writes that when Martha was drinking and tried to call the White House to try to contact the president, Chapin was the one who took the call and again, when she was out of line. , then dialed her husband. In his book, Chapin writes that as the Watergate began to unfold, Martha “talked about the things she claimed to know—and in some cases actually knew—that would be a great deal for our administration.” caused the problem.”

Garrett Graff’s book Watergate: A New Historypublished earlier this year, confirms many of the details of Mitchell’s imprisonment at the Newporter Inn, but also notes that even though he may have made his way into the press at the time, “the city already wrote to him.” She was not a power player; she was entertainer.”

By the time she died in 1976, Michelle had faded from the limelight, not completely forgotten in Hollywood. Over the years, actress Diane Ladd has pursued a project on her life, and Ryan Murphy has been linked to a project that would include her story, with Meryl Streep in the lead role.

“I hope this will help us re-examine the stories we tell about history, and the heroes we create, and how selective we are about those heroes,” says Pickering. “What the show is saying on a certain level is that history sometimes picks people up because they’re guys with good hair, and that’s what the protagonist should be, and this woman was an alcoholic, and she had mental problems, and that’s her. Why would you be forgotten?”