Original voices ink deal; end spat with Fox
The “Futurama” characters won’t be sporting new voices after all.The five “Futurama” cast members — John DiMaggio, Billy West, Katey Sagal, Maurice LaMarche and Tress MacNeille — have just sealed pacts with 20th Century Fox TV to return to the show as it reboots with 26 new episodes for Comedy Central. Both the actors and 20th are believed to have found a compromise. Move comes after 20th put out a casting call earlier this month to find replacement actors for the show. “We are thrilled to have our incredible cast back,” creators Matt Groening and David X. Cohen said in a statement. “The call has already gone out to the animators to put the mouths back on the characters.” The studio announced in June that it would produce 26 new episodes of “Futurama,” and that Comedy Central was on board to begin airing the new episodes in mid-2010. As part of the announcement, the show’s producers said stars including West, Sagal and DiMaggio had all signed on to return. Turns out they hadn’t and talks broke down as the studio and actors were wildly apart on episodic salary. It wasn’t the first time 20th had gone that route during a tough negotiation on one of its animated shows. The studio once made a similar move on “The Simpsons” when it couldn’t come to a deal with that show’s stars; although casting feelers were sent out, a deal was eventually made, just as in this case. 20th and Comedy Central have been kicking around ways to make “Futurama,” originally produced for a broadcast network (Fox), make financial sense for a cable run. It was believed that the “Futurama” cast were asking for around $75,000 per episode, although the actors have said their request was actually much lower than that. It was not clear what 20th was offering. Created by Groening and Cohen, “Futurama” originally aired on Fox from 1999 to 2003. The success of the show’s repeats on DVD and cable, as well as a series of first-run DVD releases, led to the decision to revive “Futurama.” Other costs that were slashed in the process led to a smaller writing staff and a shorter delivery schedule. This article was updated at 7:35 p.m.