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Is Anchorman Based On A True Story?

Oscar-winning filmmaker Adam McKay made his directorial debut with 2004's "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," which satirized the news culture of the 1970s. Starring an ensemble cast of comedic heavyweights, "Anchorman" is remembered by many as one of the funniest films ever made. And rightfully so, as its characters, catchphrases, and bits are still quoted and parodied to this day.

The film details the saga of San Diego anchorman Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his newscaster friends (Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell, and David Koechner) as they navigate an industry on the brink of change. Their reckless and womanizing behavior is challenged when Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) joins the news station, eventually co-anchoring Burgundy's show, much to his chagrin. Antics ensue, but the two ultimately end up working together successfully, leading to a sequel that hit cinemas in 2013.

While the film playfully satirizes the culture of the '70s, particularly the rising popularity of television news, the comedy strategically brings to light the topics that plagued the news industry at the time, including sexism and misogyny. Many have wondered if the rivalry between Burgundy and Corningstone as news anchors was based on a true story.

As "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" is a period piece, it draws considerable inspiration from real-life events and individuals.

Anchorman was influenced by real news anchors

While "Anchorman" isn't a retelling of a real news anchor's life, the film draws significant parallels to real events and anchors who dominated the news scene of the '70s. Particularly, the Will Ferrell comedy is influenced by the career of NBC news anchor Jessica Savitch. The anchor faced significant barriers in the male-dominated industry, particularly by her male co-workers. While Veronica Corningstone's (Applegate) career isn't an exact 1:1 of Savitch's, the character's look (particularly the blonde hair) and toxic work conditions she has to endure appear to be influenced by the late newscaster.

While watching a documentary on the anchor, Ferrell recounted to The New York Times how he was taken aback by how Savitch's co-anchor Mort Crim treated her. He recalled Crim saying in the documentary, "You have to remember, back then, I was a real male chauvinist pig. I was not nice to her." Since then, Crim (who is still alive) has taken credit as the inspiration for Ron Burgundy. While Ferrell and director Adam McKay haven't confirmed it, the former news anchor was invited to the "Anchorman" sequel's premiere in 2013 (via Philly Magazine).

Another newscaster from the time, Harold Greene, also likens himself as the inspiration for Burgundy. The anchorman from the '70s approached Ferrell once and bluntly asked him if he was the inspiration for the character, according to Newsday. Ferrell may have denied it but Greene replied to the star, "There's an old saying in the news game: 'Yeah, right.'"

While "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" may not be a true story, it's clear that Ferrell and McKay were influenced by the real anchors who dominated the airwaves of the '70s.