Inside Move: ‘Futurama’ may get new lease on life

Toon with a past may get new life on Fox TV

“Futurama” may live to see the year 3000 after all.

Talks have begun at 20th Century Fox TV to revive the animated skein, which takes place in the next millennium, much in the same way “Family Guy” found new life after cancellation.

The studio is in early discussions to put “Futurama” back in production and create a limited number of episodes of the Emmy Award-winning skein — although it’s too soon to tell where those segs might end up. A rep for 20th Century Fox TV declined comment.

The final original episode of “Futurama” aired on Fox in August 2003. But since then, the skein has found new life — and fans — via DVD releases and repeatedly high-rated airings on the Cartoon Network.

“Futurama” remains popular enough that Comedy Central even stole away off-net rights to the show’s repeats late last year; it will switch to the laffer cabler in 2008.

A similar resurgence in interest for “Family Guy” persuaded 20th Century Fox TV to revive that show, which has produced two seasons of new episodes and a DVD since coming back from the dead. “Family Guy” now resides as Fox’s Sunday 9 p.m. tentpole.

“Futurama” scored three Emmys in its five-season run, including the 2002 award for animated series. But it lived an unusual existence on Fox, with short seasons, late launches and long gaps between airings. That allowed Fox to air five seasons of “Futurama,” even though technically only four were produced.

“The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening and “Simpsons” vet David X. Cohen were behind “Futurama,” which bowed on Fox in March 1999. The animated skein revolved around Fry, a pizza delivery boy who’s accidentally frozen for 1,000 years. He wakes up in the year 3000 and befriends cyclops Leela and cranky robot Bender — all of whom work for the intergalactic delivery service run by Fry’s distantly descended nephew, Prof. Farnsworth.

Before “Futurama” comes back into being, however, 20th first must secure deals with the show’s production team, as well as voice stars including Billy West (Fry), Katey Sagal (Leela) and John DiMaggio (Bender).

Meanwhile, even after the cancellation new “Futurama” stories have continued to be churned out via the “Futurama” comicbook, published by Groening’s Bongo Comics imprint.

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