Intl. Emmys to fete interviewer's five-decade career

For a man who “rose without trace,” in the sardonic description of his early collaborator Peter Cook, the career of David Frost has proved remarkably durable.

At this year’s International Emmys, that career will be honored with the Founders Award, presented by Barbara Walters.

What Cook was suggesting, somewhat unkindly, is that Frost had no discernible gift except for self-promotion to account for his overnight fame in the 1960s. In fact, when Frost emerged fresh from Cambridge U. as part of the British satire boom of that period, fronting BBC’s topical comedy show “That Was The Week That Was,” he was something entirely new — a media personality whose talent was to be on television.

He has been on and off our screens, in Britain, America and elsewhere, ever since. His recent return to the spotlight, thanks to the play and then the film “Frost/Nixon” about his famous encounters with the disgraced late president, only reminded us that he’s never really been away.

Frost is the only man to conduct interviews with all seven British prime ministers from 1964 to 2009 and all seven U.S. presidents from 1968 to 2008. And he has never been afraid to explore new televisual frontiers. Since 2006, he has hosted “Frost Over the World,” a weekly live current-affairs show on Al-Jazeera English.

Back in the ’60s, he was the first British TV personality to break into America. He was also part of the team that launched two ITV franchises, London Weekend TV and then TV-am, which introduced breakfast TV in Britain.

Now 70, his restless energy never appears to flag. For as long as there is television, it seems, there will be David Frost.

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