, Salem, MA

February 16, 2011

Beverly man adds to Super Bowl commercial

By Paul Leighton
Staff writer

BEVERLY — The Patriots might have missed out on the Super Bowl, but there was a local angle to the part of the game that everybody really cares about — the commercials.

Ryan McKenna, Beverly High Class of 2000, played a key role in the making of the Super Bowl ad that featured characters from famous TV shows like "The Brady Bunch," "Cheers" and "Seinfeld" decked out in NFL gear.

McKenna, 29, works for a visual effects company called The Mill and served as co-creative director and editor on the commercial promoting the NFL, called "American Family."

McKenna and a team of about 25 others spent months finding scenes from iconic sitcoms and altering them to make it look as though the characters were getting ready for a Super Bowl party, wearing "regionally specific" NFL gear, as McKenna said.

So the ad shows scenes such as Norm bursting into the "Cheers" bar wearing a Wes Welker Patriots jersey and the Fonz from "Happy Days" decked out in Packers gear. Cleveland Brown from "Family Guy"? You guessed it — he wore a Cleveland Browns shirt.

McKenna said he and others spent "thousands of hours" watching DVDs of the old shows to find the right scenes.

"I looked at every Norm entrance from Cheers," he said.

They also needed permission from the stars to use them in the commercial. McKenna said Ron Howard (we always knew he was a nice guy) and Henry Winkler were the first to give their OK.

"Once people found out the Fonz was in, everybody came around," McKenna said.

McKenna, the son of Louise and Hugh McKenna of Cornell Road, majored in film at Fitchburg State College and has worked in New York making commercials, music videos and films ever since.

He was in Beverly last summer making a film called "Heavy Times" that stars another Beverly native, Jeff Koen. Hopefully, he can get 100 million viewers for that, too.

Wild about Harry

The city of Fort Wayne could take a lesson in maturity from Beverly.

Officials in the Indiana city are all frazzled about the possibility of one of their government buildings being named after a former mayor, Harry Baals. Seems they're afraid of being the target of late-night talk show jokes.

Here in Beverly, of course, we've had the Harry Ball Field for years without so much as a snicker (OK, maybe one or two). The field is named after Harry Ball, a former top athlete for Beverly High and longtime sports booster in the city.

Puttin' on the Ritz

From the making-the-best-with-what-you-have department: Chef Stephen O'Connor of Harry's 240 Restaurant won last week's second annual Bootstraps Best Chef Competition for his chicken cordon bleu dish.

The catch is that the competing chefs had to use 75 percent of their ingredients from the Bootstraps food pantry. In O'Connor's case, those ingredients included ham, American cheese, Ritz crackers and instant mashed potatoes. Sounds tasty.

About 150 people attended the event at the Bass River Tennis Club, with proceeds benefiting Beverly Bootstraps Community Services.

Plugging away

Hydrant helpers are popping up everywhere.

Last week, we told you about the Beverly High hockey team volunteering to help the city shovel out fire hydrants buried in snow. This week, it was a group of Endicott College students who spent the better part of three hours on Sunday digging out hydrants.

Ward 4 City Councilor Kevin Hobin got the ball rolling by asking the college's director of community services, Laurie Rawls, if students could help out. Rawls put out the call for help and got a good response.

Hopefully, the sun will take over from here.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or by e-mail at