Future set for ‘Futurama’

Animation reboot back on track

The “Futurama” reboot is now on track.

The recent 20th Century Fox TV-“Futurama” voice actor standoff won’t have an effect on the show’s timetable, insiders said over the weekend. The show’s new round of episodes is still set to bow on Comedy Central in 2010.

Here’s what won’t be happening this week, however: auditions to replace the five “Futurama” cast members.

Casting execs were set to begin meeting with replacement thesps this week. But the five stars — John DiMaggio, Billy West, Katey Sagal, Maurice LaMarche and Tress MacNeille — finally sealed pacts late Friday with 20th Century Fox TV to return to the show.

Both the actors and 20th are believed to have found a compromise. Move comes after 20th put out a casting call in July to find replacement voice 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 revive the long-canceled “Futurama,” and 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 wound up wildly apart on salaries per episode.

It wasn’t the first time 20th threatened to cast new vocal stars 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.

Twentieth 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’s believed that the “Futurama” cast initially asked for around $75,000 per episode (a number disputed by at least one thesp), and later brought their request down to $40,000. The final number wound up below that, but above what 20th was offering. (It’s not clear what 20th’s initial offer was.)

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.

Despite 20th’s move to start recasting “Futurama,” it was widely assumed that both sides would eventually figure out a way to stay in business together. In a positive sign, some of the “Futurama” cast even attended the recent San Diego Comic-Con — although they didn’t appear during the show’s official panel discussion.

Still up in the air: Whether a broadcast network will ultimately air “Futurama” before Comedy Central. Twentieth’s pact with the cabler allows for a broadcast window before the Comedy Central airing, but so far Fox — the most likely home, given “Futurama’s” earlier stint there — hasn’t expressed an interest. There’s still a year before “Futurama’s” return, however, allowing plenty of time for a deal to be made.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • David Zaslav

    Steven Spielberg's 'Why We Hate' Is More Timely Than Ever, David Zaslav Says

    The political state of the world today has made the upcoming docuseries “Why We Hate” relevant in a way that its producers, Steven Spielberg and Alex Gibney, hardly expected when they began developing the project five years ago, Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav said Thursday. “Things are much more of a challenge and hate [...]

  • Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith. Jada

    Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith's Westbrook Inks Development Pact With Telepool (EXCLUSIVE)

    Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s new media venture, Westbrook Inc., has signed a co-development agreement for feature films, television shows and digital entertainment formats with German-based film and TV company Telepool. The move follows the acquisition of Telepool last year by Smith and Elysian Fields, a Zurich-based investment company. Westbrook, launched this year by [...]

  • Shane Gillis SNL Controversy

    Shane Gillis Makes First Stand-Up Appearance Since 'SNL' Firing

    Comedian Shane Gillis made his first public appearance Wednesday night since he was hired by “Saturday Night Live,” then fired from the show days later amid controversy over his use of racist slurs. Appearing on stage at comedy club the Stand in New York City, Gillis performed an 11-minute set that pulled no punches when [...]

  • AMERICAN HORROR STORY: 1984 -- Pictured:

    'American Horror Story' Recap: Welcome to 'Camp Redwood'

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the season premiere of “American Horror Story: 1984” entitled “Camp Redwood.” Welcome back to “American Horror Story,” which in its ninth season travels back in time to the 1970s and 1980s to play in the slasher genre. Only one episode into the season, it already [...]

  • Connie Britton BlogHer Summit

    Connie Britton on ‘Friday Night Lights’ Remake: ‘You Need to Let it Go’

    Connie Britton opened up at a fireside chat Wednesday at the #BlogHer19 Creators Summit in Brooklyn by talking about one of her most beloved roles — Tami Taylor in the fan favorite series “Friday Night Lights.” When asked if a remake of the sports cult film and Emmy-winning TV show is in the works she [...]

  • Bob IgerSimon Weisenthal Gala honoring Bob

    Bob Iger Would Have Combined Disney With Apple if Steve Jobs Were Still Alive

    Disney and Apple are both launching their own streaming services come November, but Disney CEO Bob Iger says the two companies weren’t always on competing paths. In an excerpt from his autobiography published Wednesday in “Vanity Fair,” Iger revealed that Disney and Apple likely would have merged if Steve Jobs hadn’t died in 2011. “I [...]

  • The Mentalist

    #NotWorthLess: 'I Was Great and Deserve to Be Paid the Same'

    Women writers, producers and assistants across Twitter turned the hashtag #NotWorthLess into a trend Wednesday, shining a light on issues of pay inequality in the entertainment business. Sparked by screenwriter Adele Lim’s recent decision to walk away from the “Crazy Rich Asians” sequel in protest of being paid less than her male co-writer, dozens of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content