‘Ted’ head’s film debut banks half a billion dollars

Comedy Impact Report 2012: Power of Comedy Honoree Seth MacFarlane

It’s been an “annus mirabilis” for Variety Power of Comedy honoree Seth MacFarlane, whose feature directorial debut “Ted” proved the Emmy-winning “Family Guy” creator is more than just the patron saint of slackers and stoners. Co-written and co-produced by MacFarlane (who also voiced the horny, boorish, pot-smoking main character opposite co-stars Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis), the relatively inexpensive Universal production caught even its creator by surprise as “Ted” went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time, earning half a billion dollars worldwide.

“Its success was so much bigger than we ever expected, especially for an R-rated movie,” he says. “It was a very high-concept idea, which either has to hit the bull’s-eye or it just flops badly, like ‘Howard the Duck.’?”

In “Ted’s” case, the risky mix of raunch and irreverence paid off, while the production’s “very fun, very smooth” process helped convince the neophyte that he can now comfortably add movie director to his growing resume.

“It quelled my fears that things began and ended with ‘Family Guy,'” says MacFarlane, who’s already working on several different ideas and directions for a sequel, though no deal’s been signed yet. “It’s something we all want to do, and because ‘Ted’ was so whole and complete, we can do anything we want with the next one.”

Despite “Ted’s” overwhelming success, MacFarlane says he has no plans to change his business model or approach: “I want to keep doing both movies and TV and stick to doing my own stuff,” he says. “I don’t really take that many pitches or operate a production company in the usual way, except for the animated shows which are, in some cases, completely self-sustaining at this point. So for me, the prospect of directing more movies is very exciting. I won’t leave TV, but I’ve been doing it for so long now that doing movies feels like a great fresh challenge.”

Next up for the multifaceted entertainer is a date with the 85th Academy Awards.

“I don’t really know how I got the gig,” he says. “I think it was a combination of the sporadic hosting work I’d done in the past for ‘SNL,’ Comedy Central and even the Emmys.”

MacFarlane knows how to roast (see his raunchy evisceration of Charlie Sheen for Comedy Central), but can he host what is still a very traditional show? “We’ll see,” MacFarlane says modestly.

Meanwhile, Kunis has faith in her “Ted” director: “I think he can do pretty much anything he sets his mind to,” she says.