Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Your $450 million in Gannett charity bucks at work

Remember the Newseum, that financial black hole bankrolled with $450 million in onetime Gannett stock in the original Gannett Foundation, earmarked for soup kitchens and other charities where the company does business?

Well, in the latest bid to advance its mission -- "champion the five freedoms of the First Amendment" -- the struggling Washington museum is now pimping for Paramount studio's follow-up to the 2004 comedy, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

This is no joke. (Unfortunately.) In a news release today, the museum's highly paid administrators announced they had unveiled the design and props for a new show, "Anchorman: The Exhibit."

In fact, this is actually a follow-up news release to one issued in June, when administrators first announced their plans. I missed that one because I was writing about journalism at the time.

The exhibit will feature props, costumes and footage from the 2004 movie, according to the release, which notes it was "created in partnership" with Paramount. The show will open Nov. 14, "just weeks before the film's highly anticipated sequel, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, hits theaters on Dec. 20."

It's not entirely clear who's doing that high anticipating, other than the studio's publicists, of course.

'Iconic' burgundy suit
So, what in the world does any of this have to do with the First Amendment? To get to that, we must first wade through the following:

"Entering the exhibit, visitors will be greeted by a giant display case featuring the iconic burgundy business suit worn by fictional newscaster Ron Burgundy, played by Will Ferrell. Towering more than eight feet tall, the revolving display will provide a fitting entry point for this one-of-a-kind exhibit. Throughout the exhibit, visitors will see other reminders of Ron's reporting prowess and personal style, including his license plate, which reads "IM #1," three local Emmy awards for excellence in news reporting, his mustache brush, jazz flute and other classic props used in the hit movie. Props from Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues will be added to the exhibit shortly before the sequel's Dec. 20 release."

I imagine we can look forward to yet another press release when those props are added.

But, really, what's this have to do with the First Amendment?! Turns out, not much:

"The exhibit also will explore the reality behind the film's humor. Local TV news promotional ads from the 1970s will be on display along with photos of popular news teams of the day. Before today's 24/7 news cycle, local TV anchors ruled the airwaves, and the anchor chair was for men only. But dramatic changes hit local TV news in the 1970s when women stepped up to the anchor desk, and news teams took over."

Still, further advancing Paramont's -- err, the First Amendment's interests, the museum helpfully includes on its website the trailer to the new movie.

All in all, makes that Elvis exhibit look downright relevant.

But maybe this new show really is a joke, where administrators are actually making fun of themselves. After all, consider the Twitter hashtag they've created to promote the exhibit: #stayclassynewseum.


  1. "I plan on taking your mother, Dorothy Mantooth, out for a nice seafood dinner and never call her again."

  2. Gannett management and employees of course have nothing whatsoever to do with it, and have not had anything to do with it now for MORE THAN TWO DECADES. If you want to get off fulminating about Big Al, have fun, but leave Gannett out of it.

  3. You wrote: "Gannett management and employees of course have nothing whatsoever to do with it, and have not had anything to do with it now for MORE THAN TWO DECADES."

    If you mean, current management, that's true. And that is the main problem.

    If the assets held by the museum's benefactor, Freedom Forum, were still under Gannett's control, the money perhaps would be put to proper use, supporting the very communities where the money originated.

    1. Duh! That's the story of every philanthropy — there is no way to control them from the grave. You better believe Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and the rest are spinning as much as Frank Gannett may be.

    2. Come on Jim, do you REALLY think that current Gannett management would give money to soup kitchens and REAL charities? Do you recall your articles about how Dubow and others endowed their alma maters with eponymous scholarships and professorships? No, current management would squander it in self-aggrandizing projects or somehow funnel it back into the company so it would be doled out in options, bonuses, etc.
      Gannett is a company run by those who seek to enrich themselves.

    3. As I wrote, "perhaps." But once donated to the Gannett Foundation, that money can't revert to the company, according to IRS regulations.

    4. from the misleading headline to the obsession of what happened decades ago to the justification with your "perhaps" is making this site very tiring and irrelevant. Every company has a certain core that leaves and spends the rest of their lives talking about the company - they never move on. Jim, I think you can maintain this site but, quite frankly, you need to return to your journalistic roots when posting, find a new hobby or job and move on. Maybe in doing so, you'll actually earn more in gifts.

    5. And deprive you, 9:39, of a site where you return over and over to post comments like this one?

  4. I'm a Man. An ANCHORMAN.

    Newseum pimping or not (and Life ran a huge story on this yesterday) Anchorman is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen.

  5. "You can use my office and then maybe later we can lunch!"

  6. It is a very funny movie. I guess the pathetic Newseum is fine with becoming a big joke. How about real journalists who risk their lives covering war, etc. No deep pockets to remember them.

  7. Carrie Christoffersen, a Newseum curator, told USA Today: "We like to edu-tain. You can get educated and entertained."

    Perhaps edu-taining is a previously unknown sixth freedom protected by the First Amendment?

  8. Newseum is a joke. So why shouldn't it treat news people like a joke too?

  9. "I believe Diversity is an old, old wooden ship from the Civil War era."

  10. “I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.” — Craig Dubow


Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

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