The first point of reference that comes to mind when thinking of “Anchorman” probably isn’t “Alive,” the based-on-a-true-story of a plane crash and cannibalism that delighted audiences back in 1993. Had the first draft of the Will Ferrell comedy made it to production, however, that’s just what we would have gotten — only it would have been newsmen trying to survive rather than soccer players.
Ferrell reveals as much in a new interview with the Ringer, explaining how orangutans equipped with throwing stars factored heavily into the original vision for the film:
“The first version of ‘Anchorman’ is basically the movie ‘Alive,’ where the year is 1976, and we are flying to Philadelphia, and all the newsmen from around the country are flying in to have some big convention. Ron convinces the pilot that he knows how to fly the charter jet, and he immediately crash-lands it in the mountains. And it’s just the story of them surviving and trying to get off the mountainside. They clipped a cargo plane, and the cargo plane crashed as well, close to them, and it was carrying only boxes of orangutans and Chinese throwing stars. So throughout the movie we’re being stalked by orangutans who are killing, one by one, the team off with throwing stars. And Veronica Corningstone keeps saying things like, ‘Guys, I know if we just head down we’ll hit civilization.’ And we keep telling her, ‘Wrong.’ She doesn’t know what we’re talking about. So that was the first version of the movie.”
Ferrell also explains how Paul Thomas Anderson (of all people) helped the project take shape, though he apparently wasn’t too keen on the monkeys-with-throwing-stars angle: “In Paul’s defense, that was a little too kooky.” At least we learned the true meaning of “San Diego.”