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‘Futurama’ lives on at Comedy Central

Laffer net brings back Fox toon

“Futurama” lives on.

Comedy Central has resurrected the former Fox series, ordering 13 episodes to debut in 2008. Pact builds upon the cabler’s acquisition of the 72-episode library last fall.

Discussions about a revival of the half-hour began in earnest earlier this year (Daily Variety, Jan. 20) between “Futurama” producer 20th Century Fox Television and series creators Matt Groening and David X. Cohen.

Now-resolved sticking point had been bringing back the cast, which hadn’t worked on new episodes for the show since it left the air in August 2003. Thesps Billy West, Katey Sagal and John DiMaggio are onboard for the new segs that will continue the story of the pizza delivery boy, accidentally frozen for 1,000 years, who wakes up in the future.

“There is a deep and passionate fan base for this intelligent and very funny show that matches perfectly with our audience and it is great that we can offer them not just the existing library, but something they’ve never seen as well,” said senior VP of programming David Bernath.

“Futurama” has traveled a course similar to that of animated skein “Family Guy,” which also was cancelled and later brought back after DVD releases and off-network repeats grew a new fanbase.

What’s more, “Futurama” has proven a cash cow for 20th since its cancellation. Studio has fetched major coin for the reruns, first from Cartoon Network, which spent a then record-setting $10 million in 2002 for cable TV rights to the series.

Comedy Central last October laid out almost $30 million for the next five-year window, set to begin in 2008 after the license with Cartoon’s Adult Swim expires.

Twentieth recently relaunched production on another animated franchise, “King of the Hill,” which had been let go by Fox and had shut things down until an 11th-hour change of heart at the network.

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