“Anchorman” Inspiration Was a Detroit News Anchor From the 1980s
I've seen "Anchorman" (and "Anchorman 2") a STUPID amount of times. Like, an embarrassingly high number of times. I can tell you which version of the original movie I'm watching - the traditional release, or the Director's Cut - within the first 5 minutes because of minute differences in delivery and punchlines.
So to say I'm a fan is understated. But HOW, in God's name, am I just now finding out that Ron Burgundy is actually based on a Detroit News Anchor from the 1980s?
In an interview I CLEARLY overlooked from 2013, Will Ferrell said he loosely based his Ron Burgundy character on Mort Crim, a news anchor with WDIV in Detroit.
Though, the initial inspiration for the movie came from Crim's time in Philadelphia, the character traits were those of the man who took Detroit news by storm for 19 years.
The line that fully inspired Will to do the movie? Right from Crim's own mouth in a documentary about his co-host in Philadelphia, Jessica Savitch, who became the first ever female news anchor.
"You have to remember, back then I was a real male chauvinist pig. I was not nice to her."
Ferrell obviously took that line, and ran with it, fictionalizing and parodying Crim in a way that was far beyond anything he had actually done in real life. But Crim has since changed his views, and wrote a letter to People Magazine that was featured after Savitch's death.
Now a self-proclaimed feminist, Crim railed on People for writing a "hatchet job" on the late anchor's career, based on statements of disgruntled ex-associates.
"When Jessica and I co-anchored the news in Philadelphia several years ago, a columnist took a couple of unfair shots at her. I reminded Jess then that the only way anyone can stab you in the back is if you're out front. Maybe that's why she was an easy target."
Crim also had the honor to work with another early woman anchor in Detroit, Carmen Harlan, who worked with him nearly his entire time at WDIV-TV in Detroit.
So in a similar parallel, Crim wound up really respecting his fellow female co-anchors - granted he didn't marry them like Ron did with Veronica Corningstone in the movies.
BUT, there were some spot-on similarities according to Crim, including his impeccable grooming habits.
"My daughter used to joke with me, 'Dad, you're the only guy on our block who wears make-up.' But I had the fastest sponge in the business. I'd put on my make-up just two minutes before going on air."