Wahlberg makes his mark in Swampscott

By Ethan Forman
The Salem News
May 5, 2011

SWAMPSCOTT — Stars Mila Kunis, Mark Wahlberg, Joel McHale and Jessica Stroup were nowhere to be seen yesterday around noon at an ultra-modern beachfront home that is serving as the backdrop to the Hollywood movie “Ted.”

The movie has been filming in the Boston area in recent days, and reports are the production will be in Swampscott until the end of the week. The film’s stars were expected to arrive in the evening.

The Bauhaus-style home in Swampscott where the filming is taking place has sweeping views of the Atlantic and is serving as a location for a party scene at a wealthy residence. Workers yesterday were busy setting up lights, and a drum set could be seen inside the living room.

Along Atlantic Avenue, cars, trucks and a catering van lined the streets.

“Ted,” according to reports, is the feature film directorial debut for “Family Guy” cartoon creator Seth MacFarlane. The film is reportedly about a teddy bear that belongs to Wahlberg’s character and comes to life, but then wreaks havoc in its owner’s adult life.

The home of Ori Ron at 441 Atlantic Ave. was built around 2001 and is a landmark on Preston Beach, with its boxlike shape and stark design.

Ron, a real estate developer, said the film’s location scout team found his home and asked if they could use it.

“It’s not about my house,” Ron said. “It’s about Swampscott. It’s about Massachusetts. Swampscott is on the map. Massachusetts is on the map.”

The state offers a 25-cents-on-every-dollar tax credit to filmmakers, producers and studios that shoot at least half their movie in the Bay State, according to the Massachusetts Film Office’s website.

“I think it creates jobs, and it’s good for the economy,” Ron said, adding the film crew was “very professional” in terms of turning his home into a movie set and being careful with his stuff. The town was also very cooperative with the production.

“It’s a pro-business attitude in this economy,” Ron said. “It’s an attitude the decision makers have to adopt.”

Ron said he did not have a clue about what producers were using his home for. He had yet to see any stars and said he expected them to arrive last evening.

Standing around the home yesterday was Kevin Pasdon, 26, a Peabody firefighter and son of fire Chief Steve Pasdon. Kevin Pasdon has appeared as an EMT and a bellhop on soap operas, but the square-jawed former EMT for Northshore Ambulance was not playing a part in “Ted” this time.

Instead, he was working as a medic on the set, something he has done for other feature films shot in the area, including on the set of the “The Fighter,” also starring Wahlberg.

“Hopefully, they won’t need me, but when they do, I’m here,” Pasdon said.

Neighbors Linda Goldman and her daughter Pamela Goldman said they got a letter from Ron saying there would be a lot of shooting at night. They said they would be on the lookout for movie stars.

MacFarlane, the “Family Guy” creator, was last seen on the North Shore in the fall of 2009 when Connors Farm in Danvers created a 7-acre corn maze using “Family Guy” characters Stewie and Brian Griffin.

Farmer Bob Connors spoke yesterday about how MacFarlane paid a visit to the farm on his birthday.

“I have to take my hat off to him, he went out of his way to see us,” Connors said. “Tell him his farmer friends, everyone on the farm, say ‘hello.'”

The farmer added that if MacFarlane runs out of ideas for characters, he can always swing by the farm for inspiration, as there are plenty of them working there.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter @DanverSalemNews.

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