I think just about everyone was excited to hear that Futurama was following in the footsteps of Family Guy and being brought to life years after its cancellation. The celebration may have been a little short lived, however, because while the show is coming back, it looks like a lot of the people responsible for its success may not be.
IGN asks the big question: “Is Futurama being recast?” That certainly seems to be the case, with 20th Century Fox, the producing entity behind the show, holding auditions for the major parts of the series, replacing former series regulars Billy West, Katey Segal, John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche, and Tress MacNeille. Fox confirmed the recasting, saying they can’t meet the salary demands of the previous cast.
Recasting parts of a series wouldn’t be a big thing, but to replace the entire main cast of the show? This isn’t just replacing one cog in a machine, but taking all of the guts out and hoping they can find something that works as well. I know there’s a lot of vocal talent out there for Hollywood to pick from, but finding the creativity and chemistry of the original cast is asking a lot.
Apparently the recasting is due to major budgetary cuts on the series, which will now air at Comedy Central instead of Fox. Cable shows tend to have smaller operating budgets than the major networks, so while the cast may have been asking for their old rates (or, more likely, a raise), the studio needs to spend less.
What’s going to be particularly curious is the Futurama panel at this week’s San Diego Comic-Con. As IGN points out, the panel, titled ”Futurama: Life or Death” was supposed to feature the cast members in a panel where Fox would determine the fate of the series. So will the cast members still be showing up to promote the series they’re no longer part of, will the producers sit in front of an angry audience who wants their beloved cast members back, or will Fox pull the presentation entirely (which seems the most likely, especially since it’s been revealed the show is returning).
I can’t say I have a ton of hope for the returning Futurama now. I’m still open to see what it looks like (or sounds like) when it does return, but I don’t expect the series to click the same way it used to.