Universal has officially acquired the rights to Ted, an R-rated comedy that will mark the feature-film directorial debut of edgy TV cartoonmeister Set MacFarlane, a.k.a. the creator of Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show.
So far Ted has been described simply as the tale of a man and his teddy bear. The screenplay for the $65 million project — which will be a mix of live-action and CGI, similar to the recent Alvin & the Chipmunk movies– was written by MacFarlane and his fellow Family Guy scribes, Alex Sulkin and Wellesley Wild.
For fans of his brand of animated TV comedy, reports are that MacFarlane will take on this project in addition to his TV show duties (you can breathe easy). Considering how much work MacFarlane already puts into his TV shows, he’ll be lucky if he doesn’t collapse of exhaustion sometime in the near future.
Of course there are others reasons to feel a tad bit iffy about Ted – besides the possibility that it’ll suffer due to MacFarlane having too much on his plate. Whether you like his brand of humor or not, just about every episode of Family Guy is a collection of humorous skits, parodies, and pop-cult references, strung together by a thin plot that exists primarily as a vehicle for the jokes. That formula can work for a half-hour animated show, but it gets tricky for a feature-length film.
On the other hand, MacFarlane might try and broaden his writing abilities by actually making Ted more of a plot-driven pic, which would be interesting to see. The success or failure of Ted might even impact the anticipation for a feature-film version of Family Guy as well – though I get the feeling we’re eventually going to see such a movie in the future no matter what.
20th Century Fox Pictures was apparently hesitant to take on Ted due to concerns about it being an R-rated raunchfest — that, and they really want MacFarlane to start work on a Family Guy movie. Like I said though, Fox executives are bound to have their wishes granted sooner than later.
So what do you think? Can Seth MacFarlane make the jump from TV to film and still bring the funny with him? Or do you think Ted will be one really long, occasionally funny live-action episode of Family Guy?
There’s no release date yet for Ted but look for production to start later this year.