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Directed by Seth MacFarlane from a screenplay he wrote with Alec Sulkin (“Family Guy”, “The Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn”) and Wellesley Wild (“Family Guy”, “The Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn”), the new comedy ‘Ted’ about John (Mark Wahlberg) and his friendship with a bear, opening on June 29, co-stars an impressive comedic lineup that includes Joel McHale (TV’s “Community”, ‘What’s Your Number?’) as Rex, the very rich and even more lecherous boss of John’s girlfriend Lori; Donny (Giovanni Ribisi of ‘Contraband’, ‘Avatar’), a guy who wants to fulfill his childhood dream and have a Ted of his very own; and Patrick Warburton (‘Rules of Engagement’, “Family Guy”) as Guy, John’s fight-club-loving co-worker at the rental-car counter.
The cast of ‘Ted’ is supported by a number of “Family Guy” regulars that include Jessica Barth as Tami-Lynn, Ted’s fellow cashier and non-ursine girlfriend; John Viener as Alix, John’s clueless co-worker; and Alex Borstein and Ralph Garman as young John’s loving-yet-befuddled mother and father. Joining them is newcomer Brett Manley, who portrays 8-year-old John, whose Christmas wish starts this whole friendship.
Multi-Grammy-Award-winning recording artist Norah Jones (My Blueberry Nights) appears as one of Ted’s exes, while Sam Jones (‘Flash Gordon’) cameos as the living embodiment of all that John and Ted hold great and true, their hero Flash Gordon. Acclaimed performer Patrick Stewart (‘X-Men’ series, ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’, “Family Guy”) serves as the film’s narrator.
The right settings
Production of ‘Ted’ took the team around Boston. The exterior of John and Lori’s apartment was shot on Chandler Street, a picturesque block in Boston’s Back Bay. “Lori might live with a guy and his teddy bear, but she’s not going to live in a frat house,” says production designer Stephen Lineweaver. “She wants the place to look nice, while John’s just happy to be smoking pot with his teddy bear. The apartment is a nice, big, open space that we built on the stage—a place that hasn’t been renovated, one that you could rent in a good area. The real building that we used to shoot the exterior is on a gorgeous block in Boston’s Back Bay and has actually been chopped up into little apartments.”
Ted cajoles Lori to meet John at Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe, also in the Back Bay, just down Columbus Avenue from the site where the Union United Methodist Church, a cornerstone of Boston’s African-American community, also plays a key role.
John takes Lori to Sorellina restaurant for their anniversary dinner, and their disastrous double date with Ted and Tami-Lynn blows up at the Gaslight Brasserie. As well, John and Ted wait in a line of costumed fans at the Somerville Theatre for the opening night of Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace.
Just north of the city, John and Lori play miniature golf in the Route 1 Miniature Golf Course, with its dinosaur that is oh-so visible from the highway, and Rex’s modern seaside mansion is set in the North Shore suburb of Swampscott, Massachusetts.
Less picturesque, but just as authentic, are the sites used for the exteriors of Ted’s apartment building (after John kicks him out) and Donny’s home in Chelsea, just over the looming Tobin Bridge. Notably, the opening scenes were filmed in Norwood, Massachusetts, a suburb south of Boston.
Design extended from production to costume. “When you’re doing a story that is so funny, raunchy and out there, keeping the characters grounded in reality is the most important thing,” says costumer Debra McGuire, who has designed on several Judd Apatow movies, including ‘Knocked Up’ and ‘Superbad’, as well as on the iconic television series “Friends.” She notes: “Seth loved ‘Freaks and Geeks’, which was altogether reality based, so he knew that we would accomplish that with ‘Ted’. But even so, in a few instances Seth had to bring me down a bit with some of the characters, as with Rex, who we might have taken a little bit further.”
Giovanni Ribisi’s early take on his role was not as subtle as what ultimately appears on screen. “I started out with this insane concept,” says the actor, “and we did some experimentation in wardrobe. I wanted to have a wig and a headband, as well as glasses and dolphin shorts with rainbow suspenders. It was so out there that Seth said, ‘Let’s rein it back in.’ However, the mustache was part of that original concept and is the one thing that stubbornly refused to go.”
Though not a creepy dresser, John still sports a distinct look. McGuire describes him as a complicated guy. “From the first scene, when we see John as an adult on the couch, smoking a bong with Ted, you know that he’s a bit of a slacker, so he wears T-shirts, jeans, sweatshirts and things that are in that youthful, adolescent mode but without the look being too dead-on. He also has to be attractive and interesting enough for Mila’s more sophisticated character to find him attractive. So there’s a fine line there: You can’t grunge him up too much because you have to maintain that chemistry between them.”
Lori’s sense of style informed both the way she dressed and how the apartment the couple shares was designed and decorated. The costumer notes: “Lori works in a PR firm where the dress is a little upscale; her clothes are not super expensive but definitely in the designer realm, and the fit is perfect. Her wardrobe is hip and trendy but not over-the-top. Everything is believable, and Mila is so beautiful you can put almost anything on her and she looks fantastic.”
Every self-respecting bear is suitably dressed for the right occasion. So, what would Ted wear? McGuire concludes: “Blair Clark and I communicated early on about whether or not Ted was going to wear clothes. My feeling was that going minimal would take us a long way, and I was happy when everyone agreed to only the little jacket Ted wears to his job interview and his Star Wars costume.”
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