On Wednesday July 30th, The Knockturnal attended a private screening of the documentary ‘Best of Enemies” at the Museum of Arts and Design in Columbus Circle, New York.
The film chronicles the debates of William F. Buckley Jr., an American conservative author and commentator and Gore Vidal, a leftist novelist known for his epigrammatic wit. Produced and directed by filmmakers Robert Gordon and Academy Award-winning Sundance Film Festival alum Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet From Stardom), readings by Kelsey Grammer and John Lithgow and released by Magnolia Pictures, the film opened nationwide this Friday.
In attendance were actresses Christine Baranski and Swoosie Kurtz; Dick Cavett, American former television talk show host; television personality, John Stossel; journalists Lawrence O’Donnell and Chuck Scarborough amongst others. After the viewing of the film, guests enjoyed a dinner and cocktail reception at Rue 57.
In 1968 ABC News was dead last in ratings compared to the other networks but when they hired Buckley and Gore to debate on the politics of the left and right during the Democratic and Republican national conventions, television news changed forever. Vidal and Buckley both believed each other’s political views were toxic to American society. Like rounds in a boxing match, their explosive exchanges kept viewers riveted, ratings for ABC skyrocketed and a new era in public discourse that marked the dawn of pundit television, as we know it today was born.
What’s your involvement with the film?
Swoosie Kurtz: I got invited to the premiere. I can’t wait to see it.
Do you remember the debates?
Swoosie Kurtz: Oh yeah, they were major figures and such opposite ends of the pole. I just can’t wait to see this because I think sparks will be created.
Any new projects coming up?
Swoosie Kurtz: We are going into our sixth season of Mike and Molly for CBS, that’s it so far.
Q: I know that you are a journalist, you probably have a lot of knowledge of these two figures. From your career did you ever follow these two men? Did they inspire you?
Chuck Scarborough: Well I have to say they were talented intellectuals with wildly different views, polar opposite. Both of them had a command of a language that was enviable and rare. They had great arsenal of words, fabulous vocabularies so what you saw as they engaged was way beyond ABC would even imagine might be but what you saw was something that was difficult to recreate. Two opposing forces there that which would be hard to find counterparts for in today’s world. Not that there’s people today with opposing views-there’s not that many that have the complete skill set, that these two guys had. This is going to be fun, I remember them in my youth, I remember watching these debates and I’m anxious to see them again.