Can you detect a hint of Philadelphia in Ron Burgundy’s fine velvet façade? No, it’s not the newsman’s notorious love for scotch—it’s former Philly news anchor Mort Crim, who served as Will Ferrel’s inspiration for the over-the-top TV reporter.
In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Ferrel says that he based Burgundy off of the former Channel 3 anchor, especially his time with Jessica Savitch. However, retired reporter Robin Mackintosh—a former colleague of Crim’s—says he’s not so sure:
"I think Crim and Burgundy have absolutely nothing in common other than the fact that they were both anchors," Mackintosh said. "Mort was a professional journalist, Burgundy was, well, he's funny."
Ditto for producer Paul Gluck, who worked with Crim in the 70s:
"By reading mail and walking and not looking where he was going, while he had his glasses on, he walked into a door and had about four or five stitches in his head and was off the air for a week," Gluck said. "That's as close to Ron Burgundy, and that was a sad accident."
But, given Anchorman’s already long list of connections to the Philly area, Crim’s influence on Burgundy might be more than just a bit of entertainment spin. In fact, before filming the original Anchorman in 2003, director Adam McKay flew Ferrel out to Philly because the Malvern native intended to film it in the city. As he tells the Lehigh Valley’s Morning Call:
"Originally, we wanted to do Anchorman in Philly,'" says McKay, who grew up in Malvern. "At one point, I had Ferrell fly out and we did a three-day tour of Philly. We looked at all of the news stations. And of course I took Will for cheesesteaks and we got beers at some old Frank Rizzo-era bars.”
Unfortunately, though, McKay was unable to get the film made in Philly due to our tough-to-work-with tax code. But, still, the imprint of the City of Brotherly Love is indelibly within Anchorman’s DNA, even if we couldn’t cut the film crew enough of a break to stay here.
So did Mort Crim inform Ferrel’s bombastic Burgundy? Decide for yourself when it comes out this week.