Fox Seeking New Voice Cast for Futurama


After a successful comeback that consisted of four direct-to-DVD features, Matt Groening’s animated sci-fi series Futurama was set to head back into full production this year with Comedy Central placing an order for 26 brand new episodes. It was assumed that all of the original cast members had signed on to return, but now the truth has come out: Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche and Tress MacNeille are all asking for a bigger piece of the pie. The studio’s response? They put out a casting call for replacement actors… as if fans needed another reason to hate Fox lately!

The actors were reportedly asking about $75,000 per episode, but with Fox looking to do the new season on the cheap, the actual offer ended up being well below this figure. To be fair, with the show airing on a cable channel rather than network TV this time, it should mean a more limited budget; however, there is a chance the show could also get picked up to air on Fox first. So, would Fox actually go ahead and do a new season with a whole new cast? I doubt it. They made the same threats with The Simpsons cast a few years back before eventually coming to terms with them. Still, I think there’s little doubt that the fans are going to be 100% behind Billy West and Co. in this situation, and the only likely result is more ill-will toward Fox. Do you think the actors are asking for too much? Would you watch a new season of Futurama with a different cast?

  • Goon

    Changing the voice cast is a complete deal breaker.

  • Well, this sucks…

    Out of curiosity, what are the other reasons to hate Fox?

  • Mike

    I hate fox for never giving Firefly the chance to succeed.

  • Damndirtyape

    boo. hiss.

  • Other reasons to hate Fox: prematurely canceling tons of good shows, being owned by Rupert Murdoch, that whole Watchmen thing… among others.

  • Rick P.

    “I hate fox for never giving Firefly the chance to succeed.”
    Posted by Mike on July 20th, 2009


  • I am pretty much with Fox on this one. This is essentialy the shows “first” season, and it’s for cable-tv, and each actor still asks for 75 grand per episode? If it’s a succes, then fine, ask for a ton of cash for next season, but trying to cash in beforehand is a little premature I think.

  • Swarez

    Word on the street is that this is a PR thing to promote the new season as the whole cast along with the creators are appearing at Comic Con. Doubt that that would happen if this was the case.

  • If that is true it’s pretty brilliant actually.

  • Captain N

    Normally I never really care when an actor is replaced, however in this case, I feel more then any other cartoon out there (including the Simpsons) this cast really truly does bring personality to their characters. It’d be a shame to hear them replaced because I am sure it’d be quite noticeable.

  • Goon

    I actually think its a dumb PR move. How many people will see this news but maybe not the other and decide to tune out? How many people will feel mad about being played and having wasted valuable time signing petitions and writing letters? How does this help FOX when everyone just remembers every countless stupid decision they’ve made?

  • I think I might hate FOX for not hiring me as voice “talent.”

    Can you imagine getting paid $75,000 a pop for a days “work.”

    And by work I mean reading into a microphone.

    Good lord. What a gig.

  • Goon

    S-U E

    I guess the argument is the same as a sports star, when you calculate the value of their work vs. what they bring back in overall revenue. The Simpsons actors make like 400 grand per ep. Sure it sounds obscene, but is it really more obscene when you consider what a baseball player makes per game for a couple at bats and for standing in a field where the ball may never come their way that game?

  • Damndirtyape

    I would think it’s in both parties’ interest to come to an agreement. Futurama is NOT the Simpsons.

    If they cant agree then Fox potentially hurts their business and fanbase love and the actors walk away with zilch. Surely 40K per episode (or whatever) is better than nothing per episode.. No one is irreplaceable.

  • Goon

    “No one is irreplaceable.”

    Watch Ren and Stimpy after they changed the voice casting and tell me that.

  • Damndirtyape

    > Watch Ren and Stimpy after they changed the voice casting and tell me that

    Not talking about from a fan standpoint, but from the studios’ point of view.

    Now with something as iconic as the Simpsons or Seinfeld or Friends it might be very hard to pull off without tanking the franchise, but from the anecdotal evidence I’ve seen the studios are not about to be “bullied” by prima donna stars (as they see it)

  • Goon,

    A Baseball player risks serious injury every time they step on the field. They have like… 160 episodes in a season. They travel extensively and spend significant time away from home + family. They must practice constantly to maintain their abilities. They possess a talent for sport that is exceedingly rare and play at a level unapproachable by 99.9% of the general population.

    The guy that does the voice of “Bender” shows up and reads a few lines that someone else wrote for him into a microphone, then goes home.

    So – yeah… There’s a pretty big difference.

  • Alex

    I won’t be watching if the cast does not return. And that’s saying something because Futurama is my favorite animated series of all time.

  • Goon

    “A Baseball player risks serious injury every time they step on the field.”

    They’re on salary.

    And if a baseball player gets injured, theres someone else they can put in his place and still survive as a team. Replace certain voice actors and your show is over.

    Look at Phil Hartman, he dies and his Simpsons character is irreplaceable, and NewsRadio dies not long after.

  • Henrik

    “hey possess a talent for sport that is exceedingly rare and play at a level unapproachable by 99.9% of the general population.”

    Well, apart from Sport, this is true of the actors on this show (technically, I wouldn’t know, since I never watched the show, but this analogy is just pathetic).

  • Rusty James

    @ Now with something as iconic as the Simpsons or Seinfeld or Friends it might be very hard to pull off without tanking the franchise,

    To fans of the show the voice work is just as iconic as the work in Sopranos or Seinfield (or Friends, I guess, since you brought it up.)

    But I guess you’re right. For people who don’t watch the show, they won’t notice. Good point.

    Personally, I’m finding the idea of new voice work hard to accept. Are they gonna hire people to impersonate the old voices or is it going to be a new take?

  • Damndirtyape

    On Family Guy, Meg was recast after season 1 and now I’m so used to Mila Kunis doing the voice it feels weird to hear the “original” voice. They changed the tone of the mother as well. Watching the first season doesn’t even feel like “Family Guy” since the voices are so integral to the experience.

    If Fox had wanted to recast the voices after the first season of Futurama it would be one thing, but after so many years and so many episodes establishing the characters, I just can’t see fans tuning in with much excitement. Especially if it’s all or most of the major characters!

  • Steve Trojanowski

    Why does Fox hate us so much. this feels like when I was a kid and my cat ran away but then I was so happy when it came back, but then it had rabies and we had to have it killed.

  • Henrik

    ^^^^^^^^ The best.

  • I can read the comic and hear Billy West’s voice and same as the rest. I hope they don’t try and change the voices. It’s not just the voice they would be changing it would be the characters personality. FOX will come to an agreement with Katie and John and the rest of the cast, I’m SURE of it! FUTURAMA is the greatest show ever and I got a tattoo of Leela (all sexy like) to keep hope alive. Also cancel family guy, american dad and the new cleveland show (no capital letters for shitty shows) FUTURAMA LIVES

  • Chris UK

    Personally I loved Futurama as a TV show, but the direct to DVD movies didn’t do much for me (they were ok, but it just didn’t feel the same, just a rehash of the original show’s best gags). I hope a new season can restore the magic, but without the original cast they will have a hard time doing this. Still $75,000 per cast member, per episode, that’s a bit much (especially when you think how many other shows these actors lend their voices to). If I where the head of fox I would fork out the money for one last finale episode and let the show end with some grace and dignity, but I’m not the head of fox, I’m just a fan-boy on a forum, so nobody listens to me (except for you Sean, Jay and Greg, thanks for this great website).

  • Jon

    Fox is EVIL incarnate,

    Management ploy to cow the voice talent into submission or bean counting jackassitude move by corporate knobs?? either way, D-bag move of epic proportions! Give the people what they want or suffer the consequences… reduced revenue… jerks.

  • Trojan

    There is no reason to hate FOX after all they did is uncancelled Futurama.

    This way Comedy Central was able to air 26 episodes.

    The FOX Crew that cancelled Futurama no longer works for FOX or in that department in FOX.

  • Relax, guys. This happened with the cast of “The Simpsons” also. In fact, it has happened what feels like half a dozen times with that cast by now, and FOX always meets the cast halfway and things get smoothed over. Besides, if they didn’t know when they made the announcement they were searching for replacements that no one would watch a new cast, they will now. There is not a chance in hell loyal fans of the show like us will actually watch a new cast, and that means the venture will not be profitable. I see no reason to worry yet at all.

  • Goon

    “There is no reason to hate FOX after all they did is uncancelled Futurama.”

    lets say its not a PR stunt and they bring it back without the voice cast. This “uncancelation” would be worse than being canceled. As it currently is even though a number of people didnt like the movies, the way they ended the show, if it was over it would have gone out with a dignified ending. Bringing it back with new people is shitting all over it.

  • the direct to DVD movies were not quite as good as the tv show, but they were pretty good. the comic on the other hand RULES. I have every issue and I always find my self laughing out loud. Give them a read. I hear voices as i read…it is great. Long live FUTURAMA.

  • imecoli

    they are not at the panel @ comic-con

  • Goon
  • audis

    Here is the thing what they are asking is no unreasonable. These are some of the best voice actors ever (besides Frank Welker). On top of that do you realize how many voices these guys were doing on the show?
    Billy- The Professor, Dr. Zoidberg, Fry, Zap, and so many incidentals.
    John- Bender/Flexo, Barbados Slim, The Robot Cop, Sal, almost as many incidentals as Billy.
    Maurice- Calculon, The Brain Spawn, Kiff, Fishy Joe, and just as many incidentals as John.
    Now tell me this all the money they save by using 3 guys to do over 3/4s of the cast why shouldn’t they get paid good?