The movie sequel, Anchorman 2, opens soon, and the people of Bismarck, North Dakota, got a sneak peek before the rest of moviegoers of Ron Burgundy anchoring the news poorly. Except they weren't watching the movie.
A couple of days ago, Will Ferrell re-created his character of Ron Burgundy, and actually co-anchored the news on WXMB-TV.
To his credit, Ferrell did it pretty straight forward, with little screwing around during the reporting of stories, even the silly ones like a beard-growing contest and luggage that can be worn as a coat. He's a little pompous, but that's all and he keeps it in low-key check. He saves the quipping for between stories, and even there he keeps it at a minimum, again to his credit.
Throughout the broadcast, though, his co-anchor Amber Schatz has a huge grin on her face and is clearly struggling not to burst out laughing at every sentence, even when Ferrell isn't saying anything remotely funny, but she's anticipating what might comes -- and probably having an out-of-body experience of what she's doing at that moment, yet she's impressive in holding her laughter back...for the most part.
I have mixed feelings about this. I take the news seriously, and when you not only do a comic bit with the whole broadcast, but as a movie promotion, it breaks down credibility. On the other hand, it's done pretty straight, and...well, this is Bismarck, North Dakota, after all. That's not meant so much as a put-down as an observation that, the news stories being covered on this broadcast aren't those that reach the level where journalistic credibility is being held in the balance. (For one story, the woman reporter is in full Santa wardrobe, including a fluffy white beard. The lead story is on Christmas shopping. There's that beard-growing contest story. And...well, you get the idea.
Anyway, here's the full broadcast. The commercials are stripped out, so there's dead air during the breaks, but you can click forward.
Or you can watch the Ron Burgundy highlights on Deadspin. In their write-up, though, they get it totally wrong. They chide Ferrell for being awkward, and not very funny -- but that's clearly what he was trying to do. After all, what he clearly knew -- and Deadspin seemingly doesn't -- (and I'm certain it was agreed on beforehand) is that he shouldn't make doing the actual news a comedy act, but be as "real" as possible. And that means that the only way to invoke any humor is simply by being just a touch awkward -- but more than that, Will Ferrell is doing the news, because this is real, like Ron Burgundy would. Seriously, does anyone think that Ron Burgundy truly doing the news would be great and not awkward??!
Anyway, the full broadcast is below, or you can watch the highlights here
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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