Updated: ‘Futurama’ Voice Cast *WILL* Return for New Episodes in 2010
The Hollywood Reporter is stating that new actors are being auditioned for the Futurama cast for the return of the show on Comedy Central in 2010. 20th Century Fox TV issued a statement saying that they could not meet the salary demands of the original cast members John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche, Billy West, Tress MacNeille and Katey Sagal, with unnamed sources claiming that a deal may yet be made and that the actors were “seeking at least a tenfold increase of what they made when the animated series ran on Fox from 1999-2003.”
Elsewhere, Forces of Geek has reposted FOX’s full “call sheet” for the auditions, and Voice Actors in the News has a response from voice actor Bob Bergen.
Update: 8.05.2009 — Rumors have surfaced that Futurama’s supporting cast is now in negotiations with 20th Century Fox. Voice Actors in the News has more on this development.
Elsewhere, IGN.com reports that the delay in negotiating new contracts with the show’s principal cast has not affected the production schedule. And the site adds:
The deal 20th Century Fox made with Comedy Central allows for a broadcast network to first air the new episodes, should a separate deal be made. The natural place for that to occur would be the FOX network, both because of their corporate connection to 20th and because they were where Futurama first aired – but as of now, no deal has been made with any network for the show. However, Variety notes that with a year still until Futurama is set to air on Comedy Central, a deal could still happen.
Update: 7.31.2009 — Good news, Everyone! It’s official: The principal cast of Futurama has closed a deal with 20th Century Fox, and the entire cast will return.
Voice Actors in the News has more details on the story.
Update: 7.26.2009 — Variety says 20th Century Fox has “no plans” to continue talks with the cast. Voice Actors in the News has more on the story, along with additional coverage of the Futurama panel presentation at Comic-Con.
Update: 7.25.2009 — Voice Actors in the News has responses from Maurice LaMarche and John DiMaggio (via IGN.com), and a panel report from Comic-Con.
Update: 7.23.2009 — From Phil LaMarr (via Facebook): “[20th Century Fox] just dis-invited the cast members who were supposed to appear [at the Futurama Comic-Con panel] so it may not be entertaining but it’ll certainly be interesting.”
Furthermore, LaMarr has refuted the previously-reported claim by Variety that the cast was asking for $75,000 per episode: “Apparently Fox has decided to just make up numbers. The $75,000 figure they cite is not even close to what the cast is asking for. If it was, Katey Sagal would be there now during character designs!”
Voice Actors in the News has been adding updates and links on this story as it develops.
Update: 7.20.2009 — 20th Century Fox has posted an audition notice for Futurama on Craigslist. Voice Actors in the News has more on the story.
Update: 7.18.2009 — Variety has an article published prior to The Hollywood Reporter‘s which contradicts the claim that the actors were “seeking…a tenfold increase”:
The stars had all expressed interest in returning. But with the budget for “Futurama” dramatically slashed, the salary offers came in well below what the thesps were asking.
As a result, 20th has put out a casting call to find replacement voice actors for the show.
The situation is unusual this time around in that 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. Yet there’s also still a possibility — and a window built in — for “Futurama” to run on a broadcast network first.
It’s believed that the “Futurama” cast members were asking for around $75,000 per episode; it was not clear what 20th was offering. Calls to the voice stars’ reps were not immediately returned.
Furthermore, Mark Evanier (NewsFromME.com) has a well-written article on the subject which also disputes The Hollywood Reporter‘s claim:
You may have heard that the popular animated series Futurama is going back into production for new episodes. This is so. You may also have heard that the entire voice act is being replaced. This is almost certainly not so, though the production company has announced that they’d welcome submissions of voice demos by folks who think they can do the characters. Allow me to explain…
What this all means is that members of the voice cast (Billy West, Maurice LaMarche and others) are asking for certain amounts of money higher than Fox wishes to pay. Fox no doubt thinks (or for the purposes of negotiation, is taking the position) that the amounts are insane and astronomical. This is unlikely. All these actors have wise and experienced agents who know how profitable Futurama has been in the past and how much loot it will likely gross in the future, and what would be a fair price for its vocal stars.
The company does not want to replace those actors. Those actors helped make the show popular enough that it’s still a viable commodity, [but] they’d like those actors for less money because that will mean more money for the company. That is why they’re soliciting replacements, not because they want replacements but because they want to plant the seed of fret; to make the actors and their reps wonder if maybe, just maybe, Fox is crazy enough to actually replace the whole cast with cheaper folks so they’d better grab the latest of what have probably been several final offers.