VOD Spotlight: Seth MacFarlane’s “Ted” influenced by Muppets

Seth MacFarlane has had such a visible presence in recent years with his animated series Family Guy, The Cleveland Show and American Dad! that it was only a matter of time before his producing/writing talents would spill over onto the big screen. Fans of his series work should easily relate to his live-action comedy, Ted. The film stars Mark Wahlberg as John Bennett, a man whose childhood wish for his beloved teddy bear to come to life was granted in his youth, but whose relationship with his stuffed pal has gotten a lot more complicated over the years. Now, almost 30 years later, John’s girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) is waiting for him to grow up.

When the project was first conceived many years ago, MacFarlane envisioned it as an animated feature. But soon enough, it became apparent that with the advances in CGI animation technology, a live-action/animation hybrid might be the way to go. “In a perfect world, the performance of Ted is the same as everyone else’s performance,” MacFarlane explains. “It’s the same level of reality. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is a great film and many of the techniques utilized in that movie are utilized in this one, but we didn’t want to create the scenario in which there are the people and there are the cartoons. We wanted them all to be people, one of whom happens to have the body of a teddy bear. The trick was to treat Ted the same way as we treated everyone else. We avoided anything that would remind you that he’s just not another person, like having anyone have to lift him up to get to a high place.”

For MacFarlane, the example was set long before CGI was so integrated into filmmaking. “The guy I look to as the epitome of doing that right was Jim Henson,” MacFarlane continues. “The Muppets were real people. In that world it was normal for Muppets to be walking around. In The Great Muppet Caper, Kermit and Fozzie work at a newspaper and Jack Warden is their boss. They have the same relationship that newspapermen and their boss have in any movie — they just happen to be puppets. That was what we wanted.”

Ted is available on Video On Demand starting Dec. 11. Check your cable system for availability.


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