Will Ferrell surprises viewers by co-anchoring local newscast as ‘Anchorman’ Ron Burgundy
By BRYCE MARTIN
“I’m Ron Burgundy.”
Those three words caught North Dakotans off-guard Saturday evening as they tuned into their local CBS news. That is unless those hearing the moniker were familiar with Will Ferrell’s vanity-obsessed “Anchorman” character.
KXNews, a CBS affiliate out of Bismarck, bolstered some of its highest ratings with its 6 p.m. newscast Nov. 30 in which actor and comedian Ferrell, in character as Ron Burgundy, did what he prides himself on doing best: reading the news.
As co-anchor, Ferrell never broke character throughout the 30-minute broadcast, reading news about a Black Friday fire in Bismarck, tips for holiday traveling and a feature on the famous mock police car in Amidon.
Fellow anchor Amber Schatz tried her best to stifle her laughter as Ferrell would ad-lib, overemphasize certain words and act overtly animated in his gestures, all trademarks of his notorious character, clad in his traditional burgundy 70s sport coat. In one segment, while the camera focused on Schatz, Ferrell slowly leaned his head into the frame, evoking a slight chuckle from Schatz, who has been with KX for eight years.
This latest stunt was part of the marketing campaign for Ferrell’s upcoming sequel to the popular “Anchorman” comedy, in which Ron Burgundy, a career-oriented, scotch-soaked newsman, heads to New York City with his pinheaded news team.
In addition to hosting the Bismarck news, Ferrell has been on the public relations warpath, seen lately in several television commercials promoting the movie and making in-character guest appearances elsewhere.
Tammy Blumhagen, corporate sales manager for KXNews, was responsible for solidifying a deal between Paramount and Ferrell’s agent to have him guest co-anchor, according to KX General Manager Tim Reiten.
“Will’s agent actually contacted us back in May,” Blumhagen said. “He asked us if we were interested in possibly having Will anchor or co-anchor one of our newscasts somewhat as a promotional type thing for his upcoming movie, ‘Anchorman 2.’”
Blumhagen said the network was open to the idea of an appearance by Ferrell and proceeded into further discussions to make it happen.
Concerns arose over the integrity of the newscast and ensuring its professionalism in delivering the day’s news, she said, but Ferrell was “really on board with that.”
Film studio Paramount began working with the station in preparation for Ferrell’s appearance about three months ago. It was a process between Ferrell, his agent and the studio that was pieced together up until the broadcast occurred.
While Blumhagen said she wasn’t sure why Ferrell chose their particular newscast, they were thrilled with the opportunity.
“Viewers responded very positively,” she said.
In the wake of the serious yet often humorous newscast, people have flocked to social media sites, such as Facebook and YouTube, to see the broadcast they may have missed or to watch it again.
“We have had unbelievable excitement,” Blumhagen said. “People have been very impressed that he came here and they thought he did a great job and that our anchors did a great job and still got the news out professionally with a little bit of humor.”
No word on Ferrell’s appearance was given ahead of the broadcast due to security reasons and wanting to create a surprise for viewers, she said.
“We wanted to use the power of social media to really push it after the point and really create a huge buzz on it,” she said.
With already over 500,000 views on YouTube, Blumhagen and Ferrell’s relations team succeeded.
And for those viewers expecting to hear Burgundy’s end cap “stay classy” catchphrase at the wrap of the broadcast, unfortunately Ferrell missed a cue and wasn’t able to make it onto the air.
Contact Bryce Martin at email@example.com.