3:45pm PT by Alex Ben Block
'Ted' Studios, Seth MacFarlane Sued for Stealing Foul-Mouthed Teddy Bear (Exclusive)
A California production company is claiming that Seth MacFarlane and his company stole the idea for the R-rated talking teddy bear in the hit movie Ted.
According to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Bengal Mangle Productions created a screenplay called Acting School Academy in 2008 that featured a foul-mouthed, womanizing teddy bear named Charlie.
The suit says the Charlie character, like Ted, lives in a "human, adult world with all human friends. Charlie has a penchant for drinking, smoking, prostitutes, and is a generally vulgar yet humorous character," states the lawsuit, which also names Ted producer Media Rights Capital and distributor Universal Studios.
Acting School Academy became a web series that was shown on YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, FunnyorDie.com, Vimeo.com and elsewhere. It got at least 1.2 million views between July 2009 and June 2012, according to the complaint.
On June 29, 2012, the movie Ted — directed, co-written and produced by MacFarlane, who also starred — was released through Universal and grossed $550 million worldwide, the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of the year. A sequel is in the works. The character, says the suit, "is strikingly similar to plaintiffs' Charlie character."
The suit alleges that Charlie and Ted have similar physical attributes and similar vulgar traits, and that both live in a similar environment, have human friends and maintain an active social media presence.
In addition to MacFarlane, the suit names as defendants MacFarlane’s company Fuzzy Door Productions.
There was no immediate response to a request for comment from MacFarlane or Universal.
The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, alleges copyright infringement. It was filed by Los Angeles attorneys Neville Johnson, Douglas Johnson and Nicholas Kurtz with Thomas Girardi and his firm.