Ladies and gentleman, can I please have your attention. I've just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you to stop what you're doing and listen.
Williamsport, Pennsylvania, previously of relatively modest fame and fortune, has been lucky enough to be mentioned in the memoir of someone who is kind of a big deal. That is ... the legendary news anchorman, Ron Burgundy. For the unaware, Burgundy is very important. He has many leather-bound books and his apartment smells of rich mahogany. Ron Burgundy is known to all as the lead anchorman of San Diego's Action 4 news team and anchor of the first 24-hour news channel, GNN (Global News Network).
On Nov. 6, The New Yorker published an excerpt as a preview of Ron Burgundy's memoir, released Nov. 19, "Let Me Off at the Top!: My Classy Life and Other Musings," to coincide with the Dec. 18 theatrical release of "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues."
Ron Burgundy, a news anchor persona played by Will Ferrell, will return to the big screen Dec. 18 in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”
The few enlightened Williamsporters who read The New Yorker were awestruck by the time they hit the sixth paragraph of the excerpt, which appeared in the "Shouts & Murmurs" column of daily humor. Their city had been mentioned.
"When I first read it, I was shocked that Williamsport was mentioned. I immediately got the joke: Ferrell was talking up the city's wild nightlife because it really doesn't have one," said Matthew Parrish, a Williamsport resident.
"But I was confused as to why he picked Williamsport," he said.
Indeed, a confounding selection for a fictional character's fabricated life story; however it isn't known for certain whether Will Ferrell is indeed the author of the 224-page memoir. The publishing company, Random House / Crown Archetype, did not return comment to the Sun-Gazette regarding who the "real" author is.
In the memoir, Burgundy enlightens readers to his origins and journey in becoming a big deal. He tells readers that he was invited to Williamsport to an anchorman camp called the "Gauntlet."
Among the more docile recollections, he describes "the key parties alone - and this is way before they had caught on around the rest of the country - were almost too decadent."
It escalates as he gives descriptions of his sightings of "reckless bacchanalia that happened in that town every night."
"I'm just going to assume that most people who live in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to this day moved there to engage in terrifyingly adventurous sexual activity," Burgundy says, adding that it is a town of "pleasure-seeking animals only gratified by buttery foods and genital friction."
For the most part, folks seemed to get the joke, having seen the first "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" film and appreciated the mention.
"Ron Burgundy is a genius. He needed only 468 words to exhaustively note key aspects of Williamsport's proud past and establish the unique geographical, geopolitical and otherwise cultural foundation on which we can expect a promising future," said Isaiah Britton, of Williamsport.
However, not all were pleased, including a prominent man of Williamsport: the mayor.
Mayor Gabriel J. Campana was not pleased because someone impersonated him in the comments section of the excerpt on The New Yorker's site, causing some to actually believe that it was him.
The virtual impersonator said this, among other things: "Had my predecessors not shut down 'The Gauntlet,' I would have. We are primarily a town with honest people and good moral character and while we may enjoy our buttery foods and genital friction more than most, to refer to us as 'skin-wrapped blob(s) of insatiable carnal urges' is hardly fair or accurate."
The mayoral impersonator goes on to try to convince Burgundy that his recollections of Williamsport are outdated, telling Burgundy to visit Williamsport attractions like Kohl's: "I would encourage you to visit and take another look at Williamsport - visit our attractions, walk the tree-lined streets of our famed 'Millionaires' Row,' visit our Kohl's or join the world in celebrating the Little League World Series here every year."
At first read, to some users it was hard to tell for sure if it was the real mayor or not, since the impersonator talks in such a formal way, subtly infusing humor and sarcasm with things a real mayor might say.
The real Mayor Campana, however, said in a response via telephone to the Sun-Gazette, "First of all, I do not use that type of foul language, and number two, no I didn't respond to the article on The New Yorker. I don't think it's funny."
He reiterated that it's not his type of humor, citing his humor as family humor, and that whoever did it just "feeds into that sick humor (of the Ron Burgundy memoir)."
Many others commented below the impersonator on the site, however, excited.
User mfrankel88 said, "As a fellow Williamsporter I have no idea or understanding of how Will Ferrell relates to the town, but I am amused to say the least! Is this real?!"
Naturally, the word of the mention spread rapidly on Facebook.
Williamsport resident Broc Rupert created a Facebook page after the memoir mention. Rupert's page, called "Bring Ron Burgundy Back to Williamsport," was created in hopes to actually bring Will Ferrell, in character as Burgundy, back to Williamsport. The page is now at 734 likes and growing.
"I guess I created the page because I thought it was really funny and seemingly random that Williamsport would be the city that Ron Burgundy trained to be a news man in. And I thought the only thing that would make it funnier is if he actually showed up here," Rupert said.
"Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" came out when Rupert was in middle school (2004), and he said he "hasn't stopped quoting it since."
He hopes his efforts actually bring Burgundy/Ferrell "back" to the city.
"All we can do is hope Williamsport's prodigal son returns, bathed in 'sex panther' (cologne) and scotch," Rupert said.
So, the legend continues, and for whatever reason, extends to the great city of Williamsport.
Britton added that, "Burgundy convincingly proved beyond a reasonable doubt, not only that 'The Will is in us,' but that we're (Williamsport) 'kind of a big deal,' too."
When reached for comment, all Burgundy had to say was, "Stay classy, Williamsport."