Anchorman today is considered a modern comedy classic about a completely ridiculous news anchor based in San Diego. But apparently the movie originally had a much different plot.
Not many people know that the story of Anchorman originally had nothing to do with Ron Burgundy struggling with the introduction of a female news anchor. In an interview on the Bill Simmons Podcast, Anchorman star Ron Burgundy divulged that the movie was originally going to be a completely ridiculous survival movie where news anchors fought monkeys. Yep, you read that right. Here’s the actual quote from Ferrell:
“The first version of Anchorman is basically the movie Alive, where the year is 1976, and we are flying to Philadelphia, and all the newsmen from around the country are flying in to have some big convention. Ron convinces the pilot that he knows how to fly the charter jet, and he immediately crash-lands it in the mountains. And it’s just the story of them surviving and trying to get off the mountainside. They clipped a cargo plane, and the cargo plane crashed as well, close to them, and it was carrying only boxes of orangutans and Chinese throwing stars. So throughout the movie we’re being stalked by orangutans who are killing, one by one, the team off with throwing stars. And Veronica Corningstone keeps saying things like, ‘Guys, I know if we just head down we’ll hit civilization.’ And we keep telling her, ‘Wrong.’ She doesn’t know what we’re talking about. So that was the first version of the movie.”
Apparently Ferrell and Anchorman co-writer Adam McKay showed this script to acclaimed director Paul Thomas Anderson, who hate the movie. This led McKay and Ferrell to change the script to more resemble what we know as Anchorman today.
Of course, anyone who’s a superfan of the movie knows that the script went through some major changes late in shooting as well. Originally, the movie followed Burgundy and the news team as they investigated a series of bank robbers committed by hippies, known as the “Alarm Clock.” However, test audiences didn’t like the bank robbery scenes, so they re-wrote and re-shot the movie without them and used a subplot about a panda giving birth at the zoo instead.
While we’ll unfortunately never see any version of Anchorman fighting monkeys, there is a DVD with the alternate scenes with the Alarm Clock called, Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie.
Maybe we’ll get monkeys with throwing stars in Anchorman 3. Fingers crossed!