BOSTON (Reuters) - Actor Will Ferrell, in character as bumbling fictional television news anchorman Ron Burgundy, advised viewers to believe 71 percent of what they see on news programs and complained that too few journalists have facial hair in a Wednesday appearance at a Boston college.
Ferrell’s mustachioed, burgundy-suited character also misidentified one of the deans of Emerson College as former astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth.
“It was only a short while ago I was covering your lunar orbit of the moon,” the character said to Phil Glenn, interim dean of the school’s college of communications.
The college agreed to rename itself “Ron Burgundy School of Communication” for the day in an event promoting the movie “Anchorman 2,” which premieres later this month with Ferrell in a starring role.
The character told a group of students and local journalists that he counted Boston among his 400 favorite cities, but claimed that its historic harbor was an illusion.
“Boston Harbor is completely fake. It’s an oil painting,” he said, flanked by officials from the school. “Few people know that.”
The Burgundy character, an egotistical and at times sexist 1970’s television journalist given to malapropisms, first appeared in the 2004 film “Anchorman.” He was known for his “Stay Classy, San Diego” sign-off.
At the event on Wednesday, the character made a tongue-in-cheek contention that media organizations do not devote enough time to scandalous stories such as that of embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who recently admitted to smoking crack cocaine and has rejected calls to resign.
“I feel sorry for him, and I don’t think he’s getting enough attention,” the character said, four days after making a cameo appearance on a nightly newscast for a North Dakota TV station.
College officials deflected questions from student journalists about whether it was appropriate to go along with a prank that names a school after a fictional character. President Lee Pelton said the event was “one entire day and not a minute more,” despite the character’s repeated assertions that the Burgundy school would stand for 1,000 years.
“It was definitely a lot of fun,” said Raychel Vieira, a 20-year-old writing, literature and publishing student at the school. “It’s okay not to always take things too seriously.”
Asked how reliable they should regard modern news reports as being, the character asserted: “I think you should believe 71 percent absolutely. Twenty-nine percent you should take with a grain of salt.”
Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Gunna Dickson