HISTORY®’s definitive original documentary, “Watergate,” from Academy Award®-winning director Charles Ferguson (“Inside Job”), will make its theatrical debut on Friday, October 12 in New York at Cinema Village and in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Monica Film Center. The theatrical release of “Watergate” will follow premieres at the Telluride Film Festival and the New York Film Festival.
Following the theatrical release, “Watergate” will premiere on HISTORY on November 2 at 9pm ET/PT. The special six-hour, three-night event series chronicles one of the biggest criminal conspiracies in modern politics and features a roster of some of the most important media, legal and political figures from the scandal, including Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward, John Dean, Jill Wine-Banks, Richard Ben-Veniste, and many others.
The current political climate in the U.S. has triggered renewed interest in the Watergate scandal. The film explores many of the same issues being debated today on a national level, including executive privilege and the handling of Presidential misconduct.
“Over 40 years later, Watergate remains a hugely significant American story that continues to fascinate,” said Eli Lehrer, Executive Vice President & General Manager of HISTORY. “This special event series provides the most comprehensive look at the investigation, featuring many of the heroes and villains who played prominent roles in the scandal whose repercussions are still being felt today.”
“It has been an enormous privilege to be given the resources and freedom necessary to do justice to the story of Watergate and all the issues it raised,” said Ferguson. “I started working on ‘Watergate’ four years ago as a purely historical detective story. But as our production went forward, it became increasingly clear that Watergate has never been more urgently relevant than today, and I felt an enormous responsibility to get this story right. I believe that I have done so, and I am hugely indebted to everyone who made it possible. It has been a truly remarkable experience to create this film and series.”
On the night of June 17, 1972, a security guard in the Watergate office complex in Washington, DC called the police when he found a door repeatedly taped open. The police discovered five men dressed in business suits who were in the process of installing bugs and photographing documents in the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. Thus began the most explosive scandal in American history – a scandal that brought down the Presidency of Richard M. Nixon and sent over 40 people to jail.
The events of Watergate read like a political thriller – dirty tricks, government surveillance, and sabotage … much of it secretly caught on tape. “Watergate” tells the full story of the conspiracy led by Nixon and his White House staff, and how they were brought to justice. Among the incidents covered in the series is the leaking and publication of the Pentagon Papers; the spreading of false news on behalf of the White House to destroy the candidacy of Senator Edmund Muskie, then the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972; the revelation that Nixon secretly tape-recorded every conversation in the Oval Office; the Supreme Court fight for the tapes following subpoenas by the special prosecutor and both houses of Congress; the infamous Saturday Night Massacre, when Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox, leading to the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus; the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment proceedings; and the final “smoking gun” tape which recorded Nixon conspiring to cover up White House involvement in Watergate just days after the burglary.
It is a story that touches on Vietnam, the unrest of the 1960s, a near World War, the opening of China, and the moment when an unlikely group of heroes from both political parties band together and bring down the White House.
Much of our current political climate began with Watergate, a word everyone has heard, but a story few Americans now understand.
The series includes new interviews with journalists, senior Nixon Administration officials, members of Congress, and prosecutors. Interview subjects include the late Senator John McCain, Daniel Ellsberg, Elizabeth Holtzman, William Ruckelshaus, Dan Rather, Lesley Stahl, among others. This material is combined with existing archival material including the taped conversations recorded by Nixon and other members of his administration, footage from Congressional hearings, interviews conducted during the investigation, transcripts from criminal trials and Supreme Court arguments other legal proceedings, and written first-person accounts from people involved in the scandal.
Charles Ferguson directed the Academy Award-winning film, “Inside Job,” and the Academy Award-nominated film, “No End in Sight.”
“Watergate” is produced by Representational Pictures for HISTORY. Charles Ferguson is Director and Producer. Krista Parris is Producer. John Sloss and Dana O’Keefe are Executive Producers for Cinetic. Molly Thompson and Michael Stiller are Executive Producers for HISTORY.