JFK show will link killing with Watergate, producer claims

April 15, 1992|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

Just when you thought conspiracy theories about the 1963 assassination of John Kennedy could not possibly take any more new twists or turns, along comes TV producer George Paige and his show, "The JFK Conspiracy," scheduled to air at 8 tonight on WNUV-TV (Channel 54).

Paige says he will prove on-air tonight that the Kennedy assassination was connected to Watergate and that Richard Nixon was involved. Furthermore, Paige says, he will reveal the identity of "Deep Throat" during his syndicated show, with James Earl Jones as host and broadcast live from studios across the street from the White House.

The catch with such advance claims for live TV shows is, of course, that folks have to watch the show to see if they are true. Some might remember the claims made by Geraldo Rivera when Rivera successfully hyped the audience for his live, syndicated show in 1986, "The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults." The largest audience ever for a syndicated show spent three hours of live TV with Rivera, his camera crew and a team of excavators. The biggest "secret" unearthed was a worthless broken bottle, which Rivera initially treated as if it were the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in hopes of filling time and holding his audience.

But Paige says he has the goods: "We are going to tell the story of the plotting, the assassination and the cover-up of Kennedy as it truly happened. And we're going to support that with evidence, documents and eye witnesses."

Paige, who holds an M.A. in film and television from Temple University, is not a TV journalist. He produces entertainment programs. His credits include "Michael Jackson . . . The Legend Continues," a prime-time special on Jackson that he did for CBS in January, and "Here's to You, Mickey Mouse," a live-action and animated special he produced for the Disney Channel. Paige says he is hoping to create the same kind of public discussion as Oliver Stone did with his film "JFK." Stone will appear in a taped interview on the show.

Paige says he and his associates found the alleged link between the assassination and Watergate by taking what Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein did in their Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation and going one step further.

"Our investigation brought us from the Cuban missile crisis through the assassination, and right up to and including Watergate and . . . Deep Throat," Paige says. "Deep Throat" is the name Woodward and Bernstein used for one of their confidential sources in the investigation of the break-in of Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in 1972 and the subsequent cover-up.

"We actually followed what Deep Throat had told Bob Woodward all along," Paige explained. "Deep Throat said, 'Follow the money. Follow the money. It's bigger than you think.'

"Well, we actually followed the money from the opposite end. We traced the money from the JFK assassination and made a direct connection with Watergate. . . . It was actually Richard Nixon's indirect involvement with the assassination that led us to Watergate."

It gets even more complicated from that point on. But what it boils down to in Paige's version is that Richard Nixon sent the burglars into Democratic headquarters to remove information from the files that linked him to the assassination.

"What we discovered is what those burglars were looking for," Paige says. "And that's always been the big mystery of Watergate. Why would Richard Nixon . . . risk his presidency and conduct this two-bit burglary? . . . What was so important in those offices that Nixon was looking for? We found out that it was direct connections with the assassination. Pretty scary."

Paige says his team did not attempt to contact Nixon or Deep Throat for their responses. He said he did not see the need for that. "They'll only deny it," he said.

Woodward, who was contacted yesterday for this story and told of Paige's promise to connect Nixon to the Kennedy assassination, said, "My reaction to that is beyond 'no comment.'"

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