Many of the actors and actresses were good at improvisation. They would sometimes do up to 20 different versions of reaction lines, trying out the first thing that popped into their heads.
The Mexican restaurant Veronica visits with the girls from the station is named "Escupimos en su Alimento". In Spanish, that means, "We spit on your food".
This film had been pitched to DreamWorks almost 20 times before, following the successes of Old School (2003) and Elf (2003). DreamWorks had little faith in the film, doubting Will Ferrell and Adam McKay could pull off an entire film based on news anchors. The film grossed $84 million domestically, and McKay had so much extra footage he was able to make a second film out of it.
Will Ferrell's character, Ron Burgundy, was inspired by veteran Detroit WDIV-TV broadcaster Mort Crim (1978-1997).
Co-writer and director Adam McKay has said that in the first draft of the script, the story was about a planeload of news anchors who crash in the mountains and discover that the plane which they collided was carrying monkeys and martial arts equipment, leading to a battle between cannibalistic newsmen and star-throwing monkeys.
Champ's line "I will take your mother, Dorothy Mantooth, out for a nice seafood dinner and never call her again" is a paraphrase of a line from the comic book series "Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future", where Dare's nemesis, the Mekon, makes an identical threat against Dorothy Dare.
Will Ferrell graduated from college with a degree in Journalism. He anchored the local news a few times before breaking into comedy.
Adam McKay's daughter, Lili Rose, makes a cameo as a girl insulting Ron while he's walking on the street. McKay's wife, Shara Piven, plays the girl's mother.
Ron's dog is named after Ted Baxter (Ted Knight), WJM news anchor of Mary Tyler Moore (1970).
John C. Reilly was offered a role, but turned it down because he was filming The Aviator (2004). He says that he regrets the decision. He was cast in a cameo in the sequel.
The film was inspired by a biography show that Will Ferrell watched about Jessica Savitch, and how one of her male co-workers confessed to being a total chauvinist back in the day.
First part of Adam McKay's and Will Ferrell's "Mediocre American Man Trilogy". The second part was Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006). The third part was Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013). On all parts, McKay works as the director, Ferrell is the main actor, and they both work as writers on the projects.
Though the exact year in which the film is set is not stated, the fact that the characters know all lyrics to the song "Afternoon Delight", and Champ's offhand "Gene Tenace" reference on describing his excitement for sports probably places the time in mid 1977, Tenace's first season with the San Diego Padres.
The first draft of the screenplay included suggested actors for various roles: Champ Kind: John C. Reilly Brick Tamland: Chris Parnell Brian Fantana: Ben Stiller Ed Harken: Ed Harris Garth Holiday: Dan Aykroyd Frank Vitchard: Alec Baldwin The script also specified another member of the news team, Marshall Connors, with William H. Macy suggested for the part.
According to Mr. Burgundy himself, Ron's full name is Ronald Joseph Aaron Burgundy.
In the night club, Ron plays jazz flute in the style of Ian Anderson, lead singer and flautist of Jethro Tull. Ron blurts out "Hey Aqualung!" at the end of the song, a lyric from the Tull song "Aqualung", the title track of their 1971 album. In addition, the riff that he plays on the flute just before he does so is the main riff of the same song. The pose Ron strikes at the end of the song is also a clear imitation of the band's logo of a flautist turned sideways with one leg up. Ironically, "Aqualung" does not feature any flute.
The voiceover narration for the film's opening title sequence was provided by Bill Kurtis, who was himself a longtime television news anchor during the 1970s for both the CBS Early Morning News (1982) with Diane Sawyer and WBBM News in Chicago. Many may recognize his distinctly avuncular and mellifluous, yet nearly self-mocking voice from his hosting various TV documentary programs including American Justice (1992), Cold Case Files (1999), Investigative Reports (1991), Biography (1987) and many more individual projects. Kurtis also appeared in an uncredited role on a 1997 episode of Saturday Night Live (1975), during the tenure of Will Ferrell on the show. As of 2018, he is the announcer and scorekeeper of the popular NPR podcast "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me".
The zoo scenes were filmed at the old Los Angeles Zoo, which closed in 1965. The remaining buildings are a tourist attraction in Griffith Park.
A good portion of scenes from the trailers were omitted from the final cut. These scenes include Burgundy taking a bullet for Veronica, and a later shot of him and her emerging from a television van to a cheering crowd, with Burgundy visibly showing a bandaged wound. The line where Ron asks Garth about his divorce while at a party, is also missing. Other shots cut include Ron walking into a filing cabinet and falling over, alternate dialogue when Ron asks Veronica what her dream is, Veronica and Ron tackling each other on the conference room table, collapsing (with Ron shouting "Let's make a baby!"), Ron admiring his own billboard, Ed Harken asking what a "lead" is, sitting by a poolside, standing by the side of the road with a long beard and guitar on his back trying to hitchhike, and others.
Adam McKay was supposed to have a small cameo as a network producer named Aaron Zimmerman, who acted much like Robert Evans, but the idea was cut midway through production. The idea was reprised, however, in the feature introduction commentary to Wake Up, Ron Burgundy (2004).
WILHELM SCREAM: in the fight sequence between the news groups, when Champ (David Koechner) throws another man incredibly far into a car window.
Before the news rumble, as Wes Mantooth's news team rides their bikes into the alley, a graffiti tag on the wall says "Channel 9", the name of Mantooth's news team.
A sequel was pitched to Paramount Pictures, but was initially rejected. Will Ferrell later announced that "Anchorman" would get a sequel that released on December 20, 2013.
WILHELM SCREAM: While everyone is disgusted by Brian's (Paul Rudd's) "stinky" cologne at an office, one of them screams.
When the in-studio monitor shows the rolling credits during Ron and Veronica's banter, two of the credited writers listed are Jon Hamm and Adam Scott, both of whom are close friends of Paul Rudd.
The title 'Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy' appears to have been inspired by the 2001 documentary, 'Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy'.
Christina Applegate did in fact portray a newscaster in Married With Children where Kelly Bundy ended up as an intern who was hired on as a weather gal in her senior year in high school.
The car Ron owns is a 1970 Pontiac, quite possibly a low line Catalina two door hardtop.
In the scene where Ron calls Brian from the phonebooth, the Rubik's Cube on Brian's desk only has four squares per side. (Standard ones have nine per side).
The events of this movie occur in the 1970s. When he first meets Veronica Corningstone, Ron claims to be friends with Edward R. Murrow, however, Edward R. Murrow actually died on April 27, 1965.
During an October 2019 AV Club interview with Tim Robbins, he mentioned that he agreed to take the small roles in High Fidelity and Anchorman (even though he knew he would be paid very little for them) because they promised to make him a custom wig for each of the roles, both of which he got to keep after filming ended. Robbins said that he still owns both wigs as of 2019, and he often uses them in Halloween costumes.
After Brick unsuccessfully tries to fool Veronica by fumbling the "party in my pants" joke, he trots off screen, and in likely homage to a similar scene in It's a Wonderful Life (1946), there are sounds of banging and crashing followed by the actor's voice calling out, "I'm all right! I'm all right!" In the 1946 film, the clatter was reportedly caused by a stagehand dropping a tray of props just when Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy left the frame. As of 2018 there's been no word whether there was a similar faux pas and ad lib by Steve Carell as Brick Tamland, or if the opportunity came about in some other way.
The green jacket Seth Rogen is wearing, in the scene at the zoo, is an old Swedish Army jacket M/59.
The "battle scene" references the opening scene of West Side Story (1961). To add to this, Vince Vaughn wears a yellow jacket in the scene, which the characters of Tony and Riff wear in that film, during the pivotal dance scene (in which Tony meets Maria).
Some cameos include: Seth Rogan, Jack Black, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Danny Trejo, Tim Robbins, Judd Apatow, Luke Wilson, and director Adam McKay.
The movie's epilogue claims that Brick went on to become a top advisor in George W. Bush's Presidential administration. Steve Carell went on to play Bush's Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in Vice (2018), also directed by Adam McKay.
San Diego KGTV Channel 10 news anchor Jack White's photo appears on the wall in the newsroom.
Steve Carell, David Koechner, Will Ferrell, and Jack Black appeared in The Office (2005).
Number 4 is featured prominently in the movie: The station is Channel 4. The Channel 4 news team originally has four members. The opposite evening news team also has four members. Burgundy mentions a bank loan being denied to the Human Torch, who is a member of the ''Fantastic 4'' (Marvel's superhero team). When Ron is talking with Fantana from a public phone, on Fantana's desk you can see a 4 x 4 version of a Rubik's Cube. Early in the movie, after the first time we see Ron delivering the news, you can see the screen divided in four, showing "San Diegans" repeating Rons ''Stay classy'' phrase. Behind Ron's desk, there is a piece of advertisement saying Ron Burgundy is #1 in San Diego, it has four pictures of him on it. Baxter is also wearing the Channel 4 "4" on his dog collar.
Ron Burgundy sings "Afternoon Delight". The same song was played in Starsky & Hutch (2004), which also starred Vince Vaughn.
During the "crawl" the is played after the broadcast where Ron and Veronica do their first joint telecast (55:50), the writers listed for the evening's broadcast are Adam Scott, Shannon Bradley, and Jon Hamm. Scott later revealed that both he and Hamm are friends of Shauna Robertson, the movie's producer, and Shannon Bradley has worked with Judd Apatow, another of the film's producers.
Judd Apatow: When Brian Fantana hits on Veronica in the news office while wearing Panther cologne, Apatow says that the cologne smells like: "A turd covered in burnt hair".
Ben Stiller: The original choice for Brian Fantana appears as an anchor for the Spanish-language news team.