The Drews and Don’ts: Ron Burgundy Syndrome


By Drew Carpenter

“I’m Ron Burgundy?”

“Dammit, who put a question mark at the end of Ron’s script? If it’s on the script Burgundy will read it”

We’ve all done it. Just blindly read what’s on the script even when there is a glaring error or inconsistency, and sent it off. You wrap up your day fat, dumb, and happy – until you check your email the next day. “Hey, we’re really sorry but there was an inconsistency in the script, could you please re-record?” What they often really mean is, “I know it’s not your job, but come on, how did you read that and not see it’s completely wrong? Were you trying to point out my mistake?”

Towards the end of a long day when you’re studio floor is littered with copy you might start to develop what can be called “Ron Burgundy Syndrome” and stop engaging the part of your brain that picks up the script errors and inconsistencies that are often present. All talent should be on the lookout for these. Be on the watch for Ron Burgundy Syndrome, it sneaks up on you.

Even better, take a minute and listen back to your work while reading the script to make sure that, first, you read it correctly and second, the script makes sense. If the company is testing a new name for a product but referred to the old name only once in the last graph, it’s pretty obvious that some clarification is in order because that spot isn’t going to go on the air and you are either going to re-read it for free (yay!) or seem like a jerk and charge the client for something you should have caught. Yes, live sessions are best because there are usually 3 or 4 people double checking everything, but the next best thing is paying attention to what you are doing, helping the client and keeping the account.

No, it’s not your job to proof read scripts. But the fact is, writers really appreciate it when you save them face and time and writers often have a lot of say in which talents get invited back for the next job. There are thousands of willing talents out there, some of them better than you, willing to work for less AND proof read the scripts. Don’t forget that.

NEW YORK - JUNE 30: (U.S. TABS OUT) Actor Will Ferrell as "Ron Burgundy" from his new film "Anchorman" appears on stage during MTV TRL Times Square Film Festival Week at the MTV Times Square Studios June 30, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)

I’ve found the best approach is this: when you get hired, act as though you are part of the team and are concerned with the final outcome, not just looking to collect your check in the least amount of time. You should be concerned with the outcome because the company put their faith and lots of money in you when they had virtually endless choices. And if the product does well with your voice on the campaign and you help the creative team out more than they are used to, guess who probably gets the call for the next spot?

Read the script from their point of view, not just from a performance stand point. Listen back and make sure it syncs up.
We get paid lots of money for small chunks of our time and owe it to our clients to act like team players, not divas. With that comes double checking our work – and their’s.

Stay Classy San Diego

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