Why you should care

Because with all the hoopla over the new Anchorman, it’s worth revisiting the comedian who broadcast first. 

For a fictional 1970s throwback, Ron Burgundy sure gets around.

Will Ferrell’s caricature from the polyester’d newscasting days of yore has embarked on an unusually broad public relations tour that will likely be studied as a viral media how-to for years to come. In the past few weeks the star of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, 2004’s comedic extravaganza, has pimped his Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, due out December 18, in character from Bismark to Boston.

There would never have been an Anchorman without SNL’s early ‘Weekend Update’ segments.

He anchored part of a North Dakota station’s evening news and spoke at Emerson College’s school of communications, renamed for Ron Burgundy for a day. There’s even an “Anchorman” exhibit at D.C.’s Newseum.

“We can’t think of a single Hollywood effort as all-encompassing — and as indicative of the future,” notes the Wall Street Journal, as it posits that we’re watching the Lettermanization of entertainment. Industry Bible AdWeek says the campaign is doing no less than revolutionizing media advertising as we know it.

But for all the Burgundy hubbub, there would arguably never have been an Anchorman without Saturday Night Live’s early “Weekend Update” segments. Ferrell is, of course, an SNL alum. But back in the show’s early days, funnyman Chevy Chase launched a thousand laughs with his unapologetically goofy nightly news portrayal. Ferrell might push the limits, but he owes a mighty big glass of scotch to Chase.

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