The editing bay that we’re shown into on this particularly warm day on the Paramount Studios lot is a lot like any other similar facility we've visited: it’s about the size of an office, a medium-sized one, except that at one end of the room is a large mixing and computer console with several different hi-def video screens positioned around it. At the other end of the room is a couch, with chairs and a small desk scattered nearby.
As a group of about a dozen journalists squeeze themselves into the room, director Adam McKay is sprawled comfortably on the couch while editor Brent White sits at the console. The two are here working on Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, the long-awaited sequel to 2004’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, in which McKay and star/co-writer Will Ferrell spoofed a 1970s TV news team and turned that into comedy gold and a genuine cult classic that has become a part of pop culture.
It took years – the studio, amazingly, took some persuading to greenlight a sequel because the first Anchorman was not a massive blockbuster during its initial run – but Anchorman 2 is upon us next month. Screen Rant was one of the outlets invited for a chat with McKay and White as well as a look at two scenes from the movie, in which the KVWN Channel 4 news team must head east and find work with a just-launched 24-hour news network – where things are a lot different than they’re used to.
Once we’re settled in and McKay gives a quick introduction and greeting, we see the first scene, in which Ron (Ferrell), reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), sportscaster “Champ” Kind (David Koechner) and weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) are traveling in Ron’s Winnebago across country to their new jobs at a 24-hour news network. The conversation becomes quickly surreal as the foursome share recollections of past adventures and Brick begins remembering things that he couldn't possibly recall – such as his birth and future events that haven’t happened yet.
Fantana repeatedly asks Ron who’s driving the vehicle and is told that it’s on “cruise control.” As Fantana points out that that doesn't mean the motor home is steering itself, the vehicle veers off the road and goes spinning through the air. Inside we watch as the four men (and Ron’s dog Baxter, of course) are bounced around the interior, with a bowling ball smashing Fantana’s head and a scorpion sliding into Ron’s mouth (and just moments earlier, Champ had asked Ron why he had a bucket of bowling balls and a terrarium full of scorpions in the vehicle, only to be told it was a “long story”).
The full scene - teased in the latest Anchorman 2 trailer - is full of the bizarre and hilarious physical humor that we saw in the first movie, but the conversation beforehand is priceless as well. Carell’s “intellectually disabled” Brick was a huge favorite from the first film and he’s clearly getting a lot more to do here.
In the second scene, the four newsmen meet their new boss, Linda Jackson (Meagan Good). This scene is driven almost entirely by dialogue as Ron and the others deal – badly – with the fact that Linda is a woman and an African-American. Ron keeps repeating “black” over and over again as Brick goes to hide behind a couch…it’s clear that the boys have not learned much in the ways of the world since their heyday in the mid-‘70s.
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Once the two scenes are shown, McKay and White begin taking questions for the next half hour, while White also shows us his nifty new editing software – which involves a massive digital index that tags every single line of the screenplay and connects it directly to the filmed scene, including alternate takes, improvised dialogue and more.
“We can just look and make sure that’s the best idea, that’s the best joke, that’s the best delivery, that’s the best rhythm, whatever it is we want to make the thing work. And this really helps us do that,” says White. “It’s just that this kind of improv-based comedy just needed a way that you could handle it so you could get around all of the material and just be able to find it on any given day.”
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is out in theaters on December 20, 2013.