New York magazine
ca. March, 1975
Page 64

Watergate Playback:
Political Cons Act Like Pros


Celling of the president: Jailmates Frechette and Bernhard.

So Richard Nixon will end up in the slammer after all. On March 21 and 22, inmates at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute at Norfolk are performing "The White House Transcripts," the same 90-minute docu-drama aired on television last fall to wide acclaim.

Playing Nixon is Terry Bernhard, a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music who on August 29. 1973. robbed a Boston bank-not for the money, he claimed, but as an outraged gesture against the value system behind Watergate. A Bernhard accomplice in the robbery was Mark Frechette, 26-year-old star of the 1970 Antonioni film Zabriskie Point. Frechette, who like Bernhard is serving a six-to-fifteen-year sentence, is directing the production.

"We had considered bringing in some of the professional actors from our original show to coach the prisoners," says adviser Tom McCann of Boston, who created the original drama. "They agreed, but it hasn't been necessary, because Mark's done such a fantastic job."

Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis is expected on opening night, possibly along with Senators Edward Kennedy and Edward Brooke. Eventually, the prisoners may give a benefit performance outside the walls, all funds going to the Christopher Thien Foundation to provide indigent defendants with legal aid. Thien, the third partner in the Watergate-inspired bank robbery, was shot to death by a policeman at the scene.

Mel Lyman