On the Scene: Ron Burgundy's 24 Hour Takeover of Emerson College
As a student at Emerson College, I can attest firsthand that there are many unusual things about my school: its traditions, such as welcoming students in ways like this; its classes, including a just-introduced course focused solely on the works of Joss Whedon; and, perhaps most distinctly, its passionate, whole-hearted, deep commitment to the arts. In the past, that last part simply meant offering dance classes and hosting guest lectures. Today, though, Emerson has taken that devotion to the arts one major step further — by renaming its school of communication the Ron Burgundy School of Communication, honoring the legendary anchorman and star of one highly-anticipated upcoming "documentary."
Thanks to Bustle, I got the chance to attend the press conference where Will Ferrell — I mean Ron Burgundy — accepted the school's honor. During the 40-minute long event, Burgundy gave some impassioned remarks and engaged in an extremely informative Q+A. He wept, he hugged, he made inappropriate comments about a female reporter — in other words, it was everything you'd hope for from the beloved broadcasting celebrity. Also, the free Ben & Jerry's (Scotchy Scotch Scotch, of course) and cut-out mustache cards didn't hurt.
From the moment the event began at 11 A.M., there was no question that the day would be memorable. The room was packed with reporters and Emerson students, many of whom dressed in the "Burgundy spirit" with maroon turtlenecks and pasted-on mustaches. Emerson's Phillip Glenn, Interim Dean of the School of Communication, Lee Pelton, the college president, and Muna Moushein, a senior broadcast journalism student, as well as State Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein, gathered on stage to introduce the guest of honor.
"Ron is a communicator par excellence," said Glenn, mentioning Burgundy's skills in flute and a cappella. "He passionately pursues what he wants both on and off the camera."
Added Pelton, "I'm thrilled to name the school after him for one entire day — and not a minute more."
Finally, the legend himself, Ron Burgundy, the renowned San Diego anchorman, took to the stage.
"This is a big moment for me," he said between sobs. "I love you. I love everyone today."
This, of course, prompted an audience member to shout, "I love lamp!"
"Do you really love lamp?" Burgundy said. "Or are you just saying that?"
And so it began. Accepting the plaque announcing the school's name change, Burgundy expressed his gratitude towards the school, saying that while he told himself not to get emotional, he was "literally in a glass case of emotion."
"To be recognized as a journalist by the electoral college - oh wait, is that right?" he asked, and despite Pelton's confirmation that no, it was not, Burgundy expertly collected himself and moved on.
"To know that the Ron Burgundy School will stand here for the test of time," he continued, ignoring Pelton's reminder that the re-naming is for one day, and one day only. "To know that 1000 years from now, one thing will still be standing — the Ron Burgundy School of Communication — is fantastic."
He added: "To all those other journalism schools across the country who didn't have the guts to do what Emerson did — I will never talk to you."
Burgundy also acknowledged his father, the late Claude Burgundy, who said that his son "wouldn't amount to anything."
"Well, Dad," he said. "You can bite me."
For the next half hour, Burgundy took questions from the audience, treating them to pieces of extraordinary wisdom and hilarious anecdotes. He advised journalism students to "always report the facts, unless it's too hard to find the facts, and then you make things up," to "gargle with day-old bathwater" in order to have a voice that could make a wolverine purr, and, most importantly, to "not be afraid to be stylish."
After all, style is what makes Ron Burgundy stand out from the pack after all these years as an anchorman.
"I try to pamper myself," he explained. "I do yoga [pronounced yoja], I read The Secret..."
Burgundy also spoke to the state of journalism today. Asked about the current mix of entertainment and hard news, he admitted that “you need that video of a kitten waterskiing every now and then.” He also dismissed outlets like Comedy Central ("I don't know what that is. I get my news from papers and carrier pigeons") rejected a radio host's request for an on-air takeover ("I don't know if you realize that radio is dead"), and complained that "there's not enough facial hair in news today."
Burgundy also shared his thoughts on the rise in female news anchors, stating that while he realizes that his past attitude towards female reporters was "wrong," he still firmly believes that "women are just better in the kitchen."
And to a female reporter who asked him how to be a great news anchor?
"Maybe wear a shorter skirt," he said.
Burgundy, who graduated from Our Lady Queen of Chewbacca, revealed that he had not had much formal training before becoming a member of the Channel 4 News Team, but simply "walked right in," a piece of advice he passed on to the students.
When asked about what he planned to do as dean of the school for 24 hours, Burgundy shared some ingenious plans.
"Every grade is pass/fail. If you fail, you bring the professor a nice steak sandwich, and you get a pass. There will be no school Tuesday through Friday. Monday is an 18-hour-day... everyone gets a free computer, a Commodore PC.... I'll put in a bowling alley, and a jacuzzi. And when you graduate, you get a free car.... and free turkeys on Thanksgiving."
Burgundy also expressed his love for the city of Boston, explaining how he'd put it in his "top 400 cities."
Yet when asked which city is classier, San Diego or Boston, the news anchor hesitated.
"That's like Sophie's Choice," he said. "Both are beautiful cities on the harbor... although Boston's harbor is completely fake."
Burgundy did give Boston praise for its baked bean surplus, saying that he was excited to have a "baked bean party backstage" and fill the school's Jacuzzi (see: above plans) with the food.
"Cannonball!" an audience member said, quoting a line from the 2004 documentary about Burgundy's life, but the anchor looked confused.
"I don't know what you're talking about," he said.
As the conference wound down, Burgundy took a moment to thank Emerson for allowing him to be Dean, at least for a day.
"This is the best decision Emerson's ever made," he said, choking up. And judging from the standing ovation he received upon his exit, it seems the public agreed.