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‘Anchorman’ Live Reading for 826LA Benefit Offers Night Delight

It’s only fitting that a man with many leather-bound books such as Ron Burgundy would partake in a fundraiser to support a writing and tutoring center. Burgundy and the rest of the KVWN Channel 4 News Team — a.k.a. Will Ferrell and the cast of “Anchorman” — assembled on the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center’s Broad Stage one final time Thursday night before stepping into the ’80s, when the legend continues next month.

With a little help from their friends, the original cast performed a live reading of “Anchorman” to benefit the nonprofit 826LA, which provides free afterschool tutoring and writing workshops for children.

“It’s only in L.A. that when you do a charity reading, it’s of a screenplay,” host Conan O’Brien said. “On the East Coast, it’s always a book of some merit. Here in L.A., it’s like, ‘Gather ’round literary types, I’d like to read ‘Bio-Dome 2.’”

The event was conceived by the movie’s writer-director Adam McKay, who narrated the script as stills from the film were projected behind the actors, and producer Judd Apatow, who’s supported the org for the last six years. Although 826 Valencia co-founder and writer Dave Eggers praised Apatow’s commitment to the cause — the previous fundraisers the filmmaker organized funded the opening of 826LA’s two locations in Echo Park and Mar Vista — everyone else had a bone to pick with him.

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“Ladies and gentleman, in 20 years of show business, I’ve never not been introduced,” O’Brien said as soon as he hit the stage. “Judd Apatow was supposed to do it. Three minutes ago, a guy I’ve never met with a headset said, ‘Judd’s not doing it, just go out there.’ That’s bulls**t.”

It’s safe to say that Jack Black was even more livid than O’Brien. The actor, who had a small role in “Anchorman” as the bad man who punted Baxter, wrote and performed a “special song” about not being cast in the film’s sequel. “I’m not in the f**kin’ movie,” “don’t ask me to sing a song at your s**tty event,” he belted as the audience erupted in laughter.

Earlier that night, Black had a few choice words for Paramount, which initially passed on “Anchorman 2.” The film will finally be released nationwide on Dec. 20 — almost a decade after the first movie hit theaters.

“When I heard that they wanted to do it, everyone was in, except the studio was like, ‘Nah, it seems too extensive,’ I was just like ‘What kind of idiots are running this asylum?’” he said. “But then they finally did the right thing. They got it together, they’re like, ‘What are we, jackasses? Let’s make this movie.’”

While Black won’t appear in “Anchorman 2,” Harrison Ford, Kristen Wiig, James Marsden and John C. Reilly are among the A-listers who will make their debut in the second film.

“What surprised me most about all of the cameos on the second one was how game everyone was to try anything and how people didn’t want to leave,” Steve Carell said before the event. “It wasn’t as if people came in to Atlanta and wanted to get out of there or were watching the clock. Everyone wanted to stay as long as they could to soak up that environment.”

And it looks like Ron Burgundy will have a little competition from Drake’s character, who evidently also wants to be friends with Veronica Corningstone’s breathtaking heiney.

“It’s the top of the movie and we’re walking down the street in Jordache and looking ridiculous and he makes a comment about my butt,” Christina Applegate said about the scene she shares with Drake.

Before the cast took their seats arranged in a row on stage, they talked about being anxious about performing “Afternoon Delight” for the first time in 10 years. Paul Rudd was nervous to learn that Black was thrilled about hearing the medley.

“Well, Jack Black is a real singer so now the pressure’s on,” Rudd said. “Before, I thought it would be a funny, quirky thing, but if Jack Black is looking forward to it, I’m instantly panicked.”

But the foursome delivered at zero hour, with Rudd at the top of his game.

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