Cunningham, director of the greatest film ever made starring Matthew McConaughey and Jenna Elfman (EDtv), has done the prudent thing and cast Frank Langella to reprise his role as former President Richard M. Nixon in his big screen adaptation of Nixon/Frost, a new play by Peter Morgan currently wowing audiences on Broadway (starring Langella and Michael Sheen). Centered on the 1977 televised showdown between British talk show host David Frost and the man who got Homer Simpson kicked out of college for severely inebriating a pig with malt liquor, the film is scheduled to begin shooting in August.

Though Langella’s performance is apparently revelatory, he was actually Cunningham’s second choice. Seeking a bit of star power and publicity through stunt casting, Cunningham’s first choice was Warren Beatty, who is a master at turning down potential career-revitalizing roles (see Kill Bill). What’s interesting about Beatty – who, for several decades, had every woman worth having – is that he’s never out of the spotlight despite the fact that he hasn’t appeared in a film since 2001’s disastrous Town and Country. Maybe that’s why I don’t miss seeing him onscreen as much as I should. And while I’m certain Beatty would’ve turned in a fascinating performance as Nixon, I’m actually pleased he essentially forced Cunningham to go with Langella, as I’d like to see what all the hype is about (even though the shift of medium will change the tenor of his work).

It’s expected that Frost/Nixon will loom large in the 2008 prestige pic derby. Imagine Entertainment is producing for Universal to distribute and unceasingly flog.