Will Ferrell on ‘Anchorman’: ‘It Will Become a Teaching Tool’

Ron Burgundy's alter ego kicks off Newseum exhibit with Q&A in D.C.

Hey look, it’s Ron Burgundy, the Anchorman, standing in the window of the Newseum, the august D.C. facility dedicated to the First Amendment. Oh, wait. He’s in the next window too. What gives?

Answer: Call it a working definition of “low-brow meets high-brow” — a new exhibit at the popular building to promote Paramount’s “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” Dubbed “Anchorman: The Exhibit,” it runs through August 2014 where it joins more sobering presentations on the Berlin Wall and the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.

The display officially opened Dec. 3 with an appearance by Will Ferrell before an auditorium filled with Newseum friends and supporters.

Partnering with Washington Post scribe Ann Hornaday for a 30-minute Q&A, Ferrell discussed his busy career parodying the likes of George W. Bush and creating the “lovable buffoon” Burgundy.

He said “Anchorman’s” zany characters have endured because of the film’s formidable legs. “When we wrapped ‘Anchorman,’ we said that one day this will be in the Newseum. It will become a teaching tool,” he deadpanned.

The exhibit includes some 60 “artifacts” from the initial film including Burgundy’s suit and other costumes, the anchor’s jazz flute, a bottle of Sex Panther cologne and the stuffed toy, Baxter the dog. Visitors can even perform their own best imitations of Burgundy and company by stepping before live cameras and mock TV news sets nearby.

Meanwhile, the nearby museum shop is filled with “Anchorman” trinkets like coffee mugs that say “stay classy Washington,” mustaches of every size, Sex Panther cologne, and yes, life-size cutouts of a burgundy-suited Ferrell for one’s very own window. Paramount and the Newseum are sharing in the proceeds.

The exhibit and related cross-branding activities couldn’t have come at a better time for the facility on Pennsylvania Avenue just blocks from the U.S. Capitol. These are difficult times for the operation’s parent organization, the Freedom Forum, a foundation dedicated to freedom of the press. The $450 million building, built in 2008, has been running large deficits lately, necessitating several rounds of layoffs.

Newseum executives say they hope the much ballyhooed attraction will bring visitors to the property, where they will hopefully peruse the serious exhibits, too. The Newseum’s economic plight might also dampen expected criticism about the frivolous display by media and political cognoscenti.

And besides, what could be healthier for a city populated by self-important politicos than a lighthearted dose of political incorrectness?

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