THINKING WHAT COULD BE DONE AT SD ON THE QT WITH $5 MILLION — When word came down that UT-TV was closing its cable TV operations, U-T Chief Operator John Lynch-Mobbe "couldn't help thinking what a waste it represented. We invested almost $5 million in that newsroom. State of the art all the way. We had the machinery; what we lacked was the manpower."
Lynch-Mobbe toyed briefly with the notion of molding a webnews operation from a crack team of seasoned, professional TV journalists, but quickly realized that no such thing exists. What did exist, however, was a crack team of fake TV journalists. "And best of all, right at the top of the heap was a guy who's already famous for working in San Diego: the Anchorman himself, Ron Burgundy. I reached out, and he jumped at the chance; we're working out the details now."
The character of Ron Burgundy has appeared twice on the big screen, portrayed by the actor Will Ferrell. "Will's already got a house in Orange County," noted Lynch-Mobbe, "so geography wasn't a problem. Neither was money; we were already losing $500,000 a month on this thing. I figured, why not spend half of that and give my favorite comedian a day job? Remember, he's 46, and though you probably haven't noticed, he's slowing down. Lots of cameos and voice acting these days, fewer and fewer features. A brief, regular send-up of our company's industry was exactly the kind of thing he needed right now."
Reached for comment, Ferrell said that the move was "a natural for Ron. He started in local TV news, made it to network, and then broke through on cable [in Anchorman 2]. But it's pretty clear that the future of news is on the web, and Ron Burgundy is a man who lives in the future. The fact that I'll be broadcasting from inside the ruined husk of a real-life daily newspaper only makes the joke that much funnier."