According to Variety, Fox TV -- which produces the show -- has broken off talks with Futurama's original mouthpieces and has put out an open casting call in search of other actors to replace them. The issue is, of course, money. The new round of Futurama is scheduled to air on Comedy Central with a much lower budget than the original run (which aired on Fox), forcing Fox TV to cut costs where it can.
"We love the Futurama voice performers and absolutely wanted to use them, but unfortunately, we could not meet their salary demands," 20th Century Fox TV said in a statement to Variety. "While replacing these talented actors will be difficult, the show must go on. We are confident that we will find terrific new performers to give voice to Matt (Groening) and David (X. Cohen)'s brilliantly subversive characters."
For hardcore Futurama fans, new episodes without West (who voices Fry, the Professor, Zoidberg, and Zapp), Katey Sagal (Leela), and John DiMaggio (Bender Bending Rodriguez) may as well not exist at all. Who else can say "Bite my shiny metal ass" but DiMaggio? Who else can scream "Hiii-yah!" when Leela kicks someone's butt? And no one -- NO ONE -- can come close to matching West's clueless Fry. Even if the network finds people who can mimic them to near perfection, what happened to the good old principle of it all?
Variety says the cast members were asking for $75,000 per episode -- more than $300,000 less than what Simpsons cast members make. However, we're hoping that Fox is just playing hardball, and -- fingers crossed -- a deal will be reached.
26 new episodes of Futurama are due to begin airing on Comedy Central sometime in 2010. It's unclear whether this contract stalemate will affect the appearance of West, Sagal, and DiMaggio at this year's Comic-Con, which begins next week.
Futurama without its original voice cast? What the... I don't... ARGH!
INTERVIEW: Futurama's Billy West