The Man vs. Anchorman 2: Will Ferrell Speaks

Slate's Culture Blog
May 2 2011 9:25 AM

The Man vs. Anchorman 2: Will Ferrell Speaks

I'm a big fan of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy . To say that I've watched the 2004 comedy dozens of times is an understatement, because I often feel like I'm watching it even when I'm not watching it: Scenes and shots and lines of dialogue will start to play in my head, rewind, and play again. It's a highly enjoyable affliction. I've appreciated moments in Will Ferrell's other feature-length collaborations with writer and director Adam McKay The Other Guys , Step Brothers , Talladega Nights but, gag for gag, none of these comes close to Anchorman . McKay puts Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and David Koechner in '70s polyester and rolls tape as they smile lovingly at bananas, nickname their testicles, and sing "Afternoon Delight" in tender four-part harmony. It's magically stupid.

I was doing a short interview with Ferrell on Friday about his new movie, the indie drama "Everything Must Go," and toward the end Anchorman came up. I was excited to talk about the movie a bit with Ferrell especially since rumors of an Anchorman 2 have been circulating. Ferrell deflated my hopes on that score, however, at least for the time being: "We keep trying to explain to Paramount that there’s a lot of interest in a sequel, but they don’t seem to want to listen," Ferrell told me. "I’m not kidding, to the point that I’m openly talking about it with the press. At first we tried to be deferential but now we’re like, 'Yeah they don’t get it.'" This surprised me. With an $85 million domestic gross on a $26 million budget, the first Anchorman was hardly a cult hit. (The Paramount- Anchorman 2 beef is long-festering, it turns out: Deadline wrote a bit about the situation last year, and Adam McKay tweeted that the studio, which owns the rights to the film, "basically passed.") "They say when they model it and run the numbers, it doesn't add up for a sequel," Ferrell explained, "even though we have Steve and Paul and everyone on board to make it, and even though Steve" who recently left the cast of The Office "is free to make movies now."

In the great tradition of inane, impassioned fan protests, I'm considering organizing a mailing offensive against Paramount. If I can get my hands on a trident , I might just send it to their offices with a note: Free Papa Burgundy.

Photograph of Will Ferrell courtesy of Getty Images

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Jonah Weiner is Slate's pop critic.

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