April 20, 2014
Tina Fey, Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig were there, but the real star of the New York City premiere of “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” was Baxter the dog.
That’s according to longtime Chicago anchorman and movie narrator Bill Kurtis. He walked the red carpet on December 15 with everybody from Brooke Shields to Will Ferrell, but for some reason, that dog grabbed all the attention.
“I know some of the people, the reporters and such, so it was kind of friendly experience for me to see them,” says Kurtis, who chuckles as he recounts the shenanigans of that evening. “As you walk by they’ll say: ‘Bill over here!’ ‘Bill down here!’ And you know, they want you to be looking right into their camera. That’s easy enough. [Kurtis’ longtime partner] Donna [La Pietra] walked with me. We were following Baxter, the little dog. Everybody wanted Baxter so I think the pressure was off us.”
Once inside, Ferrell asked Kurtis to introduce the movie. Kurtis tried to say no, but wound up on stage anyway. In classic Ron Burgundy style, here’s what he remembers to have said:
“Welcome to the premiere of ‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.’ We’ll get started in a minute but first Adam and Will would like for me to thank a few people. They would like to thank their wives for their support and patience. . . They would like to thank the president of Paramount Pictures… They would like to thank the men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima. Without them, we would be fighting a guerilla war in our basement against men on skis with uzis. They’d like to thank Metta World Peace for his defensive work; for his mental attitude on the court. And, they would like to thank all the courageous and brave anchormen and women who nightly read everything that is put in front of them. Without them we would have to read the news ourselves and that would be a drag.”
OK. So Kurtis didn’t write that, Ferrell and director Adam McKay did, but Kurtis delivered the speech with perfect comedic timing. And he remembered it virtually word for word even while taking a short break north of Chicago at the “manor” for the holidays.
He learned quite a few things at the premiere. Stars such as Christina Applegate arrived in their fancy dresses to take red carpet pictures, but changed so they could watch the movie in comfort. He also talked with the stars that he affectually refers to as “the boys” — aka Carell, Ferrell and company.
“Then there was the big splash party afterwards at Cipriani on 42nd street,” he says. “I’ve been to a few [splashes] here in Chicago and we compare very well. You walk in and it’s [like] home for most of the actors. Jeremy Piven was there and there was a lot of Chicago representation because [many] had been at Second City. Adam McKay and Steve were in Second City for 10 years. He met his wife here.”
Kurtis recorded most of his narration at his downtown studio. He also is still recording promo spots for the film. Due to McKay’s unique filming nature — and his desire to let the actors go unscripted for many scenes — there are lots of unused outtakes, says Kurtis. He’s personally curious to see if a new film will release with alternate endings or more outtakes.
Here’s one bit Kurtis really liked. SPOILER ALERT!
“The last scene is Will and Baxter walking on the beach. Then the credits come up and you hear me come back in. And I say ‘1980. Ron Burgandy dies. Oh I’m sorry, I misread that. I mean he cried.’”