EXCLUSIVE: Mark Wahlberg, who’s coming off the summer hit The Other Guys with Will Ferrell, is negotiating to star in another buddy comedy. You might think we’ve seen it all on the well trodden buddy comedy trail, but how about one with a guy and his life-size, walking-talking teddy bear? Wahlberg will star in Ted, the R-rated directorial debut of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane which Media Rights Capital committed to finance at a $65 million budget. Universal Pictures acquired it last April. Wahlberg will play an average Boston guy who’s normal except for the childhood wish he made that his teddy bear could come to life — and it did. Years later, the boy is an adult, and the bear is still his best friend. But the bear, a carousing, irresponsible slacker, is getting in the way of his buddy committing to adulthood and the girl he loves. MacFarlane will provide the voice of the bear, which will be brought to life through CG in an otherwise live action format. MacFarlane wrote the script with Family Guy cohorts Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, and they go past that racy sitcom, which is why the film will be R-rated. Ted will be produced by Scott Stuber through his Universal-based Stuber Pictures, along with MacFarlane, John Jacobs and MRC. Wahlberg, who plays Boston fighter Irish Mickey Ward in the David O Russell-directed Oscar-season release The Fighter, plans to next star in Contraband, the English language remake of the 2008 Icelandic crime drama Reykjavic-Rotterdam. That film, also for Universal, will co-star Kate Beckinsale. The original film’s star, Baltasar Kormakur, is directing. Wahlberg then hopes to follow that picture with Ted. WME and Leverage are negotiating his deal.
It’s another picture in the growing Universal-MRC relationship, but I’m told it’s not part of the upcoming deal that will see MRC fund 20 films over 5 years, and then pay a distribution fee to Universal. The studio recently released MRC’s Devil, and has set a March 4, 2011 release date for the George Nolfi-directed The Adjustment Bureau, which stars Matt Damon and Emily Blunt.