According to several sources (including this Kansas City Star blog), the actors haven’t been able to reach terms with 20th Century Fox over compensation for the new season of the show. Other parts of the show have apparently been scaled down as the series moved from the Fox TV network to DVD releases and, finally, to Comedy Central.
While I don’t know all the details about the contract negotiations, I can think of a few reasons why recasting the voice actors is a bad idea:
- This isn’t like the old days where you could replace Darren on “Bewitched” and get away with it.
- Recasting the actors will likely alienate the die-hard fans who stood by the show over the years. These are the fans that have willingly watched endless repeats, first on Adult Swim and later on Comedy Central. More importantly, they’ve voted with their wallets by paying for the DVD releases.
- Fox has been getting a deal with its current voice actors. Billy West does the voices of one of major characters (Fry) and several others, including Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg and Zapp Brannigan. What do you think the odds are that the studio will be able to find one actor to do all those voices?
Threatening to recast the actors is a tactic Fox has tried before with Futurama’s sibling show, “The Simpsons.” I don’t know if Fox really benefited from the threat — all the actors were able to return, with better contracts IIRC.
Ultimately, Futurama is a show that has given me and its fans countless hours of entertainment, laughs, romance and a little bit of geeky brilliance. I hope there’s a resolution that allows this show to continue.