Let it not be said that Will Ferrell and the other genial frat kings of comedy behind Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues aren’t doing their damnedest to promote this film. I’m not talking about the talk show circuit or social media, not this ad campaign has taken a decidedly weird approach. You’ll recall that Will Ferrell shot 70 car ads as Ron Burgundy. SEVENTY. These folks aren’t doing anything half-ass and so, in further whole-assed effort, they’re releasing a memoir “written” by Ron Burgundy. Seriously, you’ll be able to pick it up from your local bookshop on November 19th. Here’s the official publisher info on the author:
RON BURGUNDY is an award winning News Anchorman and poet. He lives with his wife, Veronica and dog Baxter in San Diego California. When he is not making models of 18th century sailing ships he can often be found on the deck of his own boat, The Shining M’Lady or supervising archeological digs in and around his back yard. This is his first “book.”
Yeah, they’re having fun. Here’s a short excerpt from the memoir with a longer chunk available over at The New Yorker. Seriously, who’s having more fun than these guys?
My father, Claude Burgundy, was a natural born News Anchor, as was his father and his father before him. Of course there was no television or radio station in Haggleworth, Iowa. Instead, every Friday night he would set up a desk in the Tight Manhole, an Irish bar where the mine workers drank and sang songs of misery. The oil company paid him to report on all the charitable and civic-minded projects they had in the works as well as hard-hitting news stories happening in Haggleworth. Because of his honest face and gifted speaking voice, men and women would come in from all the other bars in Haggleworth—the Dirty Chute, the Mine Shaft, the Rear End, the Suspect Opening, the Black Orifice, the Poop Chute, too many to list here—all to listen to The Shell Oil Burgundy Hour. In Haggleworth it was the most popular show on Fridays at ten P.M. for years. It consistently beat out Dragnet and Ernie Kovacs in the local ratings. He would report high school sports scores, weddings, divorces, births, who was diddling who, but mostly good news about the oil company and their interests. I would come and watch from the front row and be transfixed by his smooth delivery and sharp tailoring.
One day, the fire that continued to burn under Haggleworth leaped over into tunnel 8, the most profitable tunnel in the whole coal operation. Unlike the fire that occasionally shot up from the earth and burned cars or dogs, this fire was getting in the way of profit and had to be contained. Men were sent down into the shaft to try and stop the fire, but it was no use. Eleven men died. The whole town was in a somber mood when my father got up to deliver the news. “Good evening, I’m Claude Burgundy and this is how I see it.” (That’s how he started every Burgundy Hour.) The bar was quieter than usual as they hung on every word. “Today, the Shell Oil Company of Iowa announced a new plan to bring multicolored blinking lights to downtown Haggleworth for the upcoming holiday season.” On a day when eleven miners had burned to death, and husbands and fathers of people sitting in that bar had died, the Christmas-light story was the lead. A woman in the back shouted something at my father. Another man called him a coward. He just sat there, taking insult after insult as he bravely continued on with a story about a precocious little dog that wore a hat around town that everyone loved. He reported a story about a planned two-hole golf course. There was an in-depth interview with a woman who had won second place at the state fair for her lemon bars. It was great news and slowly people began to smile. When he got to his sign-off (“And that’s what happened this week in Haggleworth”) they were sad to see him go and could hardly wait for the next week’s news.
In a candid moment as we were walking home that night I asked my old man why he didn’t talk about the eleven men who had died or the culpability of the oil company or the environmental impact of this new deadly fire or the emotional damage many deaths could have on a small community like ours or even the plain fact that without tunnel 8 most of the town would be out of work. “Ron, sometimes people don’t want the truth. They just want the news.” I’ll never forget these sage words from my father. Up until that point I made no distinction between “truth” and “news.” I had thought they were one and the same! I was a boy of course and the world was just a kaleidoscope of butterscotch candies and rum cookies. I didn’t understand the reason for news until that day.