From the author of Generation Friends, featuring brand-new interviews with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, a surprising, incisive, and often hilarious book about the film that changed comedy, Anchorman.
It’s been nearly twenty years since Ron Burgundy burst into movie fans’ lives, reminding San Diego to “stay classy” while lampooning a time gone by—although maybe not as far gone as we might think? In Kind of a Big Deal, comedy historian Saul Austerlitz tells the history of how Anchorman was developed, written, and cast, and how it launched the careers of future superstars like Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, and Paul Rudd, also setting the stage for a whole decade of comedy to come and influencing films like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Talladega Nights, Knocked Up, Superbad, and so many more.
But Kind of a Big Deal isn’t only a celebration of Anchorman—it’s also a cultural analysis of the film’s significance as a sly commentary on feminism, the media, fragile masculinity, 1970s nostalgia, and more. Featuring brand-new interviews with stars such as Will Ferrell, director Adam McKay, and other key players, the book includes insider commentary alongside updated pop-culture analysis. And it also shares surprising stories and facts: from the film’s original conception as a plane crash/cannibal comedy mashup to the surprising, real-life newscaster who inspired the character of Veronica.
Overall, this is a celebration of a movie that millions love—but it’s also an unsparing look back at what has and hasn’t changed, since the 1970s and since 2004. Perfect for fans of the film and anyone who cares about comedy today, Kind of a Big Deal proves that the movie was, and is, exactly that.
About the Author
Saul Austerlitz is an adjunct professor of writing and comedy history at New York University, as well as the author of Generation Friends, named by Vulture as one of the “15 Best Books About TV Comedies”; and Just a Shot Away, which The New York Times Book Review called “the most blisteringly impassioned music book of the season.” He is a graduate of Yale University and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
*A Vulture Best Comedy Book of 2023* *Boston Globe’s Best New Books for Summer 2023*
"Why does Anchorman still make us laugh nearly 20 years after it premiered? A smart, funny deep dive into the enduring magic of Ron Burgundy and company." —People
"Anchorman is one of the last great broad, blockbuster comedies, densely packed with over-the-top characters, jokes, catchphrases, and set pieces. It’s great to see it get the full, exhaustive, appreciative analysis and oral history, a treatment afforded to all iconic culture. Saul Austerlitz was the perfect author for the job.... He takes comedy seriously and respectfully, but also lovingly and critically, the right approach for Anchorman, which, Austerlitz posits, was a flash point for funny films." —Vulture
"Saul Austerlitz makes a compelling — and hilarious — case that [Anchorman] deserves much deeper consideration.... Austerlitz’s book is a fascinating account of how much work goes behind creating a movie that’s become a mainstay among weekend cable channel fare.... One doesn’t have to be an “Anchorman” to appreciate the book. They could, as Ron Burgundy would say, just need an addition to the many leather-bound books in their apartment that smells of rich mahogany." —Associated Press
"Austerlitz...assembles an impressive amount of research and reporting about the 2004 movie into an exhaustive, yet fast-paced text about how it was made and why.... No matter how small the movie detail, the author provides some kind of insight that places it into the broader themes he wants to tackle.... This surprising history doesn’t just stay classy; it reveals how remarkably deep the Ferrell comedy really was." —Kirkus (STARRED) review
“Anchorman fans will thoroughly enjoy this appraisal, and students of film criticism will learn from Austerlitz’s readings. Sterling work.” —Booklist "Austerlitz’s Kind of a Big Deal is a wickedly sharp, discursive study of a movie that has cast a long shadow on 21st-century comedy... The book is also an elegy of sorts for a time, not long ago, when blockbuster comedies could make a dent in an industry increasingly dominated (“Barbenheimer,” notwithstanding) by superhero and fantasy IP." —Los Angeles Times
"Many influential films have received exhaustive behind-the-scenes studies. Despite or perhaps due to its raunchy humor, Anchorman is absolutely deserving of this treatment.... An engaging read for fans of Ferrell and McKay’s iconic film." —Library Journal
"a well-reported...making-of Anchorman that’s a more insightful history of the (now broken) comedy partnership of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay." —Chicago Tribune
"Hilarious and insightful..." —Boston Business Journal "Kind of a Big Deal really is an exhaustive history of ‘Anchorman’. You may think that there’s not much to know about the film but you’d be wrong. Austerlitz’s attention to detail and thorough research is impressive, and while reading this book I fell in love with the film all over again. ‘Anchorman’ is a true American comedy classic and honestly, as I bring this review to an end I’m thinking about digging out my DVD copy and giving it a rewatch (again)."—Entertainment Focus "Perfect for fans of [Anchorman] and anyone who cares about comedy today, Kind of a Big Deal proves that the movie was, and is, exactly that." —Forces of Geek
“Kind of a Big Deal is a hysterical, revelatory look at the creation of one of the funniest, most renowned comedies of the 21st century, as well as its massive cultural footprint. Even if you've seen Anchorman 1,000 times, you'll learn something new on every page.” —Andy Greene, New York Times bestselling author of The Office: An Oral History
“Here’s the news: Saul Austerlitz’s Kind Of A Big Deal isn’t just a pin-sharp reminder of the genius of Anchorman, full of riveting stories from its creation (though it is definitely that). It’s also an incisive examination of the societal factors that led to the movie’s birth, and how it in turn has impacted American culture. Funny, thoughtful and more profound than a book featuring the phrase “smelly pirate hooker” has any right to be. Added bonus: it smells of rich mahogany.” —Nick de Semlyen, author of Wild and Crazy Guys and The Last Action Heroes "Kind of a Big Deal is a stark reminder that enduring success often rises from the ashes of failure. This is not just a book about Anchorman, but a chronicle of the lo-fi comedy scenes from which Will Ferrell and Adam McKay emerged.” —Kliph Nesteroff, author of The Comedians and We Had a Little Real Estate Problem
"An entertaining, informative take on an influential comedy classic, a book that also somehow manages to touch on broader cultural issues and not in an academic way. A must for any comedy geek." —Mike Sacks, author of Poking a Dead Frog, And Here's the Kicker, and Stinker Lets Loose
"Saul Austerlitz's deeply reported, funny, smart writing takes you right off the page and deep inside the making of an iconic film that, it turns out, we all sorely underestimated. Kind Of a Big Deal not only weaves together countless delicious behind-the-scenes stories but offers a fascinating study of comedy and lively portraits of some of the greats -- from Carell to Ferrell. You won't watch Anchorman the same way again." —Thea Glassman, author of Freaks, Gleeks and Dawson's Creek
"In Kind Of a Big Deal, Saul Austerlitz goes beyond behind-the-scenes, showing us that, as silly as Anchorman seems on first glance, its impact and legacy matter deeply in the realms of comedy, gender relations, and even politics. It’s a riveting read that will make you rethink its place in film history and recognize Ron Burgundy as the massive star he always knew he was." —Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, author of Seinfeldia and Sex and the City and Us "In his deep dive into the legend of Anchorman, Saul Austerlitz brings us on an insightful, entertaining, and laugh-out-loud ride through Ron Burgundy's zany world. Fans of the beloved film will devour the delicious behind-the-scenes stories and gain new appreciation for the improv-comedy titans who created Burgundy from scratch. Anchorman and its descendants, Austerlitz persuades, remain sources of light and community, and a balm for an imperfect society." —Erin Carlson, author of I'll Have What She's Having and Queen Meryl "Saul Austerlitz’s Kind of a Big Deal is in-depth scholarship with an approachable smile: genial and easy to like, but the product of tireless, unrepeatable research. Austerlitz digs revealingly into every aspect of the making of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and the reasons why the film is a veritable switch box, wired into contemporary American culture. How big a deal is it? Considerable." —Stuart Klawans, author of Crooked, but Never Common: The Films of Preston Sturges