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July 17, 2009 1:15 PM   Subscribe

Fox has announced that due to a refusal to meet salary demands, the upcoming new episodes of Futurama on Comedy Central will be replacing the entire principal voice cast, having failed to reach agreements with any of the core team of Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche, and Tress MacNeil. On the plus side, the lame imitations your friends have been doing for years can now be put to the test in the open casting call for cheaper sound-alikes.
posted by XQUZYPHYR (137 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh wow, this is going to turn out SO VERY WELL.
posted by the dief at 1:16 PM on July 17, 2009 [12 favorites]


Good news, everyone!
posted by Mali at 1:17 PM on July 17, 2009 [85 favorites]


Hurrah, hooray, oh frabjous day!
posted by blucevalo at 1:17 PM on July 17, 2009


I'm guessing this is just a lame attempt at negotiating?
posted by chunking express at 1:19 PM on July 17, 2009


Bad news everyone!
posted by ALongDecember at 1:19 PM on July 17, 2009


What the hell, Fox? I don't even watch the show and can see how this will completely backfire.
posted by Dr-Baa at 1:19 PM on July 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Huh. That part of the galaxy really stinks.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:19 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


This can't POSSIBLY be true, right? Maybe it's like an attention-getting viral type marketing thing to promote the show since it's been off the air so long?
posted by peep at 1:19 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Couldn't they just assemble new dialogue out of recordings they already have?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:20 PM on July 17, 2009 [10 favorites]


Voice auditions may be sent in the following ways:
1. MP3 audio auditions online in whatever means is convenient for you.
2. MP3 audio auditions on cd.
3. emailed as attachments


I look forward to the YouTube videos of redubbed scenes.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:22 PM on July 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


Yeah, not sure what's the what yet. Here's the Onion's AV Club update:

UPDATE: We're trying to get a statement from Groening's office, so far to no avail. But a publicist involved with the program's DVD release did point out that Groening, David X. Cohen, and voice talent Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, and Maurice LaMarche will all be on a panel at Comic Con next week. The text is interesting, too, promising that "a top-ranking FOX executive decides live, on stage, whether Futurama will make yet another triumphant return or whether it is gone forever!"

So, are we being played?


I'm guessing so, though I've underestimated FOX's ability to shit the bed before.
posted by Skot at 1:23 PM on July 17, 2009 [10 favorites]


Ugh, that's bullshit.

Even if the voices sound the same, the whole range and personalities of the characters would change.
posted by delmoi at 1:23 PM on July 17, 2009


Guess that Friends model works only once.
posted by lysdexic at 1:24 PM on July 17, 2009


Couldn't they just assemble new dialogue out of recordings they already have?

I, too, was thinking about this, and was reminded of a Simpsons scene:

Homer:
Somebody had to take the babysitter home. Then I noticed she was
sitting on [splice] her sweet [splice] can. [splice] -- o I grab
her -- [splice] sweet can. [splice] Oh, just thinking about
[splice] her [splice] can [splice] I just wish I had he --
[splice] sweet [splice] sweet [splice] s-s-sweet [splice] can.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:25 PM on July 17, 2009 [10 favorites]


I choose to believe this is either a fake or a publicity stunt because I just can't cope with the universe being this dark and uncaring a place. I mean, I know bad things happen, but....there are limits. Jesus.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 1:25 PM on July 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


Maybe they can replace Groening, Cohen, and Keeler with Seth McFarlane while they're at it.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:25 PM on July 17, 2009 [11 favorites]


I'm guessing this is just a lame attempt at negotiating?

Some people were asking that in the article comments, especially with a planned Futurama cast panel (or at least prior to this announcement) at next week's Comic-Con. But it sounds a lot more like a lame attempt at reducing the costs for what without a doubt was a far smaller fee a cable network like Comedy Central was willing to pay Fox for new episodes than the Fox Network. The highly-paid professional voice talent is usually the first to go. Case in point: see every Disney direct-to-video "sequel" released in the last ten years.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:25 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, they use inexpensive Korean animators - why not Korean voice talent?
posted by Xoebe at 1:26 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


... and Comicon is next week.

"1:00-1:45 Futurama: Life or Death?!— Be a part of sci-fi history! Join executive producers Matt Groening and David X. Cohen, and stars Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, and Maurice LaMarche ..."
posted by mrgrimm at 1:26 PM on July 17, 2009


Ahh, FOX and SciFi, two things that have always gone well together. Respect, admiration, honesty, quality, and common sense... these are the things we've come to expect when combining the two.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:27 PM on July 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Couldn't they just assemble new dialogue out of recordings they already have?

I'm pretty sure you're joking, but since this is what I do for a living, let me just say that, no, you can't. It's extremely time intensive to correctly blend separate parts of two takes of the same line, or worse yet two takes from separate recording sessions.

Inflection, rising and falling notes, tempo, pitch variances, etc. are all factors - and you can only squish and stretch tempo/pitch so far before artifacts invariably creep in. In video games we can more or less get away with murder because 90% of our voicework is being filtered through light radio static and squawks can be strategically placed to cover any nasty holes, but animation for television/movies generally doesn't have that option.

Smart voiceover producers *do* record a lot of generic lines for emergency purposes to cover for last minutes changes, but there's only so far you can run with that sort of thing.
posted by Ryvar at 1:29 PM on July 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


The producers of the show would like to thank Todd Blanston for stepping in to play "The Whip Master" during contract negotiations with our regular star.

The producers would also like to point out that proficiency with a whip is very difficult to achieve and takes many years, and it is hoped that viewers will bear that in mind.

posted by acro at 1:31 PM on July 17, 2009 [11 favorites]


John K must be cackling his ass off somewhere right about now.
Hear that Steeeeempy?

Bite shiny metal ass, Ren!
posted by jenkinsEar at 1:31 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Like this won't end in a giant flameout. Its a cult show! And fans of cult shows give a crap about small details, let alone THE ENTIRE CAST BEING REPLACED!. Hilarious.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:32 PM on July 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


So which one is Coy and which one is Vance?
posted by the dief at 1:33 PM on July 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


HA HA
posted by mullacc at 1:35 PM on July 17, 2009


They've done this before, Fox fired the whole spanish language cast of The Simpsons and replaced them with other voice actors.
posted by octothorpe at 1:35 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ay Carumba!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:38 PM on July 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


No fair! You'll change the outcome by measuring it!
Also, I'm absolutely certain windmills do not work that way.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 1:38 PM on July 17, 2009


Thank you, XQUZYPHYR, for ruining my weekend.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 1:38 PM on July 17, 2009


I think this is a publicity stunt and the actors are in on it.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:40 PM on July 17, 2009


Couldn't they just assemble new dialogue out of recordings they already have?

I, too, was thinking about this, and was reminded of a Simpsons scene:

Homer:
Somebody had to take the babysitter home. Then I noticed she was
sitting on [splice] her sweet [splice] can. [splice] -- o I grab
her -- [splice] sweet can. [splice] Oh, just thinking about
[splice] her [splice] can [splice] I just wish I had he --
[splice] sweet [splice] sweet [splice] s-s-sweet [splice] can.


For whatever it's worth, if memory serves Andrew Ryan's introductory speech in Bioshock has something like eight splices between four separate takes. This is an easy case because it has a lot of widely-spaced clauses and the ideal tonality of the read is pretty straight-forward, but I'm still not entirely happy with it: the beat between "...it belongs to God." and "No, says the man in Moscow..." is kind of glaring.

Ultimately recording sessions cost money, and a *LOT* of time, so you do the best you can with what you have.
posted by Ryvar at 1:41 PM on July 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


I am seriously hoping that this is just a Comic-Con publicity stunt, because I have absolutely zero problem believing that Fox could fuck up one of the best animated series ever, twice.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:45 PM on July 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Funny Stuff, They are well-liked but if Billy West thinks that anyone but Old-school Stern and adult-Cartoon fans care's who he is he is sorely mistaken.

Roll on enthusiastic mimics!
posted by NiteMayr at 1:46 PM on July 17, 2009


Ryvar: "the beat between "...it belongs to God." and "No, says the man in Moscow..." is kind of glaring."

Showoff.
posted by Plutor at 1:46 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow, if this is true it has killed 100% of my excitement for more futurama episodes, and I am a massive fan who has watched through the entire sun of the show more times than I remember.

I am also sort of surprised that I continue to be shocked at the level of Fox's malicious desire to destroy every good show they get their hands on.
posted by utsutsu at 1:47 PM on July 17, 2009


This is a darkly comic joke.
posted by graventy at 1:48 PM on July 17, 2009


Fuck you, Fox.
posted by DU at 1:49 PM on July 17, 2009


siiiiiighh...I was just watching an early episode last night on comedy central and was annoyed that Bender sounded a little off even though it was the same voice artist. Damnit
posted by slapshot57 at 1:50 PM on July 17, 2009


They are well-liked but if Billy West thinks that anyone but Old-school Stern and adult-Cartoon fans care's who he is he is sorely mistaken.
Who is it you think is watching this particular show?
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 1:52 PM on July 17, 2009 [9 favorites]


I wonder what were the sums involved.

It just goes to show that the lesson remains, take what master gives to you, be it dry dog food or the good stuff from the cans.
posted by nervousfritz at 1:57 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


This sucks, but it's unsurprising when you look at it in context. Comedy Central doesn't command anywhere near the advertising rates as Fox. If the revenue's going to go down, the budgets will, too.

They must have found a way to get animations on the cheap (outsourcing to North Korea instead of South?). VO would be next.

I would rather see an entirely new show than a watered-down version of Futurama. That said, there is a lot of talent out there. The show could actually get better. I doubt it, but we'll see.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:58 PM on July 17, 2009


What internet petition or twitter hash tag do I need to use to voice my displeasure with this decision?
posted by mge at 2:00 PM on July 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


This is the worst news on top of the best news I've heard in a while.

It's like finding out you can fly, but only while listening to Billy Joel.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:02 PM on July 17, 2009 [59 favorites]


Damn, I found out about the Futurama relaunch from this FPP, making this the absolute quickest stoked-to-bummed turnaround I can remember. Between this bass-ackwards move from Fox and Amazon disemvoweling Orwell from the Kindle, this seems to be "suicidally bad decision week" for massive media companies.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:04 PM on July 17, 2009


I'm trying to find a way to make a joke about this that makes allusion to Walter Koenig's line 'When we woke up, we had these bodies' or, alternatively, the lulzy fake Russian accented version.
posted by kldickson at 2:05 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


@Bernt Pancreas

It wasn't the hardcore fans that brought back Family Guy, it was broad appeal. If Fox can score the right voices and the direction is right the show can survive this. I don't think the Futurama Cache that the Simpsons Voice artists have, and without that Fox can (if they are lucky) produce the show without them.

I don't think Fox is that lucky, American Idol hitting Season (what?) 13 notwithstanding.

My point is, the Voice Actors don't have enough pull to try and demand X (I didn't see a figure) if the show had come back in less than 2 years, maybe. 6 years on? Who but the fans even cares?

I'm sure someone will blink, if the Voice actors have savvy managers they will say "play ball to a degree now and in 5 years we'll soak 'em"
posted by NiteMayr at 2:10 PM on July 17, 2009


Reports are saying that the voice actors, as a group, were demanding a five-to-ten-fold increase in their pay to do the new series (which seems quite foolish considering the lower licensing fee from Comedy Central; of course, the Fox Network licensing fee was an interdivisional transfer between two parts of NewsCorp and it's well-documented that the networks manipulate those numbers to screw with the creators and other 'profit participants').

Also, I distinctly remember one year when Fox was "on the verge" of replacing the cast of The Simpsons (the originals, not a foreign market overdub crew) when they were renegotiating their contracts. I don't know if this is a repeat of that "negotiation strategy" or a big fat inside joke/publicity stunt to be played out at ComiCon...
posted by wendell at 2:22 PM on July 17, 2009


Oh man, I was so super excited about new episodes. Now I'm just... not.
posted by Never teh Bride at 2:25 PM on July 17, 2009


note to 90% of people: the new episodes will air on Comedy Central, not Fox.

And much as I side with labor over management 99% of time, asking for a reported 10x increase, when the show a) is now airing on basic cable and b) got canceled once already is a bit silly. I think they are just having their bluff called.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:25 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm glad that FOX is not resting on its laurels, but is continuing in their time-honored tradition of fucking up perfectly good shows. Bravo, FOX!

Oh, and by the way--you're all fired.
posted by elfgirl at 2:27 PM on July 17, 2009


Reading here, I get the distinct feeling that this is a stunt to announce at the convention that Fox is going to air the new episodes.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:31 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, this makes me reconsider going to the panel at Comic Con just to see how much epic fail can be contained within. If it's true, it's a car crash waiting to happen. If it's a publicity stunt, it's beyond pathetic. It was bad enough they were going with the YOU DECIDE foolishness.
posted by saturnine at 2:32 PM on July 17, 2009


They've done this before, Fox fired the whole spanish language cast of The Simpsons and replaced them with other voice actors.

Not only that, Fox once threatened to replace the English language cast of The Simpsons over a pay dispute in 1998, and, just like with Futurama now, went as far as preliminary casting of new voices. That's what makes me worry it's not just a publicity stunt, although that's what I want to believe. But that's being optimistic. These are TV industry people we're talking about. They regard us as little more than piles of semisentient goo with the ability to consume products. I'm sure they figure that "hey, it's a cartoon, as long as the characters are drawn the same way, who'll ever even notice or care? BZZZT IT-WILL-PLAY-WELL-IN-PEORIA"
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:32 PM on July 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Plutor:
Yeah, totally :)

As far as Futurama is concerned, *if* this goes through I'll definitely miss Billy West's acting - particularly for Professor Farnsworth.

From Wikipedia:
According to David X. Cohen it is a running joke that the French language is extinct in the Futurama universe (though the culture remains alive), much like Latin is in the present.[19] In the French dubbing of the show, German is used as the extinct language instead.

[This is Good]
posted by Ryvar at 2:33 PM on July 17, 2009


Weird. I've always wondered, after all the times Fox has failed their audience, what would be the thing, that line that no one would ever think that anyone would be stupid enough to cross, that when they jumped over it would instigate an armed revolution in which all the executives were rounded up and put up against the wall.

I guess I'm about to find out.
posted by quin at 2:34 PM on July 17, 2009


of course, the Fox Network licensing fee was an interdivisional transfer between two parts of NewsCorp and it's well-documented that the networks manipulate those numbers to screw with the creators and other 'profit participants'

Um... am I misunderstanding something? Comedy Central is owned by Viacom, not NewsCorp.
posted by hippybear at 2:39 PM on July 17, 2009


From what I know (second-and-third-hand) about Billy West and some of the other cast members, I don't see it in their nature to close themselves out of the opportunity to do the show again. And remember that the 'new series' came on the heels of 4 "direct-to-dvd-and-then-to-cable-movies" which had to have involved its own renegotiation.

But please note the official blurb for the Futurama panel at ComiCon:
Sat Jul 25 1:00-1:45 Futurama: Life or Death?!— Be a part of sci-fi history! Join executive producers Matt Groening and David X. Cohen, and stars Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, and Maurice LaMarche for high-stakes thrills as a top-ranking FOX executive decides live, on stage, whether Futurama will make yet another triumphant return or whether it is gone forever! The very fate of Futurama hangs in the balance! Paramedics will be standing by in case the intense excitement causes any panelists to collapse. Raucous celebration or abject despair to follow the news. Ballroom 20

Smells like publicity stunt to me.

But I'm waiting for an "official statement" from Matt Groening (which he is currently avoiding) or some perspective from Mark Evanier or Jerry & Amid, because at times like these, blogs sometimes ARE the best source of information (if the right people are writing them).
posted by wendell at 2:39 PM on July 17, 2009


Mali: "Good news, everyone!"

Or, rather, since they're being replaced with soundalikes, a better textual equivalent might be:

"Positive headlines, everybody!"
posted by WCityMike at 2:42 PM on July 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Why Why Why didn't (Fox) break (their) legs?!?"
posted by stifford at 2:43 PM on July 17, 2009


Wow, so Fox is so hung up on cancelling ALL their shows that they had to find a way to doom a program that's not even airing on their network?

This is unspeakably depressing.
posted by trunk muffins at 2:46 PM on July 17, 2009


hippybear, I was referring to the arrangement when the show was on Fox as the 'interdivisional', and they've already done the 'movies' outside of that deal, and... ohhh, Hollywood Accounting makes my head hurt (and I've worked in accounting for some dicey non-Hollywood companies).
posted by wendell at 2:47 PM on July 17, 2009


It wasn't the hardcore fans that brought back Family Guy, it was broad appeal.

Your favorite animated TV show is not good.
posted by longsleeves at 2:53 PM on July 17, 2009


I think this will WORK OUT just FINE for everyone. REALLY. GO BACK to YOUR show.
posted by Samizdata at 2:54 PM on July 17, 2009


@longsleeves my favorite animated show is "The Venture Brothers" good or bad, it's what I like.

Now, what would Brock Sampson be without Patrick Warburton? I guess Fry without Billy West.

What was my point?
posted by NiteMayr at 2:57 PM on July 17, 2009


Also Metalocalypse.
posted by NiteMayr at 2:58 PM on July 17, 2009


Motherfucker! Why does Fox always make things I like and then destroy them!?
posted by ben242 at 3:03 PM on July 17, 2009


MetaFilter: taking the things I like and then destroying them.
posted by hippybear at 3:12 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It wasn't the hardcore fans that brought back Family Guy, it was broad appeal.

I don't know any broads that like Family Guy.
posted by box at 3:17 PM on July 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Don't be a scab.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:19 PM on July 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Somehow, someway, I bet Murdoch is behind this. You can only get that kind of concentrated evil in a few places, and I don't think Cheney's working at Fox yet.

He's just got a summer home there.
posted by Talanvor at 3:19 PM on July 17, 2009


I think it is important to note that while Comedy Central will be airing the new Futurama episodes, FOX has the option to broadcast them on their network before it goes to cable as briefly mentioned in this Variety article on the subject.

Say West et al. do make a deal for a lower paycheck, FOX can then run the episodes on primetime sunday for a lot less money than they would for another show. Is that fair for the voice actors? While this all could be a publicity stunt for ComicCon (though I personally doubt it, even as I hope that it is), it's just too likely that they are trying to make a show on the cheap they can just throw in on primetime, let go for a few episodes to see if it catches fire, and if not? Hey, Comedy Central already wants it. Win win!

Seems the sort of thing they would do.
posted by tittergrrl at 3:19 PM on July 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


What the fuck?
This could be more annoying than.... No, nothing's more annoying than them killing Firefly, but the fact that they can't even bring themselves to just cancel this, rather than hump it's (what will be once they've done this) almost lifeless body... Sigh.

Well, something to scratch off my list of things to look forward to. Without Bill West on board, I just don't care.
posted by opsin at 3:24 PM on July 17, 2009


Looking around at the buzz on this it really sounds to me like things are pretty much still in the hardball negotiation stage. Not to say it will definitely work out but it doesn't cost Fox much to solicit auditions while at this point the stars are probably best served by letting the uproar do their work for them.
posted by nanojath at 3:26 PM on July 17, 2009


Also, note that according to tittergrlrl's link, the rumored salary request from the voice actors was $75,000 per episode- if that applied to all the principal actors, that's $375,000 per episode in main cast salary. That's about 9.5 million for 26 episodes.

The first of the four new DVDs made $14 million in sales. The remaining three pulled another $11 million, making FOX $25 million for the equivalent of 16 episodes. That's $25 million, not including whatever the sales revenue from Comedy Central was, and it was never even shown on network TV, ever.

And if FOX pulls a fast one and decided- hey, SURE we'll premiere it on network TV!- keep in mind that $375,000 is less than a single main cast member on The Simpsons now makes per episode.

Quoting the large multipliers is always a good tactic for the studios, but that's why actors have agents- their job is to know how much their clients should be making, and frankly, if they're asking for five times as much, it's because they think their clients should get it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:35 PM on July 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


keep in mind that $375,000 is less than a single main cast member on The Simpsons now makes per episode.

And they don't even have to endure space travel! Well, except for Homer.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 3:48 PM on July 17, 2009


Will not watch!
posted by markkraft at 3:50 PM on July 17, 2009


I wouldn't worry, Fox has so many other cutting edge, brilliant television shoPffHA HA HA HA ... sorry, couldn't keep a straight face there.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:51 PM on July 17, 2009


What I don't get is that they were able to use all the original voice talent for all the straight to DVD movies and I really doubt that that was so much more lucrative than a cable broadcast. I'm pretty suspicious and expect them to work this out.
posted by I Foody at 3:52 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I call shenanigans. Viral marketing. It'll work, too.
posted by TimeTravelSpeed at 3:54 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think tittergrrl has it.
posted by anazgnos at 3:54 PM on July 17, 2009


Does Fox News count as Sci-Fi?
posted by Ratio at 4:00 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


this bespells doom.


really though. don't bother bringing it back then.
posted by djduckie at 4:04 PM on July 17, 2009


Yeah, dont fucking bother Fox. Seriously, can you stop being a parody of yourself at this point?!
posted by strixus at 4:10 PM on July 17, 2009


Fox stated that plans to animate Ted Mcginley into the new Futurama are progressing nicely, also.
posted by FireballForever at 4:18 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Please, Fox-Bot... look into your hard drive, and open your mercy file!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:20 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I just wanted to ask if anyone else always hears Guybrush Threepwood in Fry's voice. Can't you just hear him as Fry? "I'm Guybrush Threepwood, a Mighty Pirate. And also the octopus got a racecar. Is any of this getting through to you?"

No? Just me? Damn.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 4:27 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


And if FOX pulls a fast one and decided- hey, SURE we'll premiere it on network TV!- keep in mind that $375,000 is less than a single main cast member on The Simpsons now makes per episode.

That's not really a fair comparison. They didn't start making that until probably at least 8-10 seasons into the show. And The Simpsons is a successful show, one of Fox's highest rated (or...it was, at least). Futurama has pretty strong DVD sales, but I don't anticipate stellar ratings on new episodes, new cast or not.
posted by graventy at 4:29 PM on July 17, 2009


With the threat of being branded a heretic, I'll ask: why is this so terrible?

Yes, the show is great in part because the voice actors are great. But if they're really doing a broad reach for new voice actors, this could be pretty awesome for some sound-alikes to get into the business. FOX are being cheap bastards on a show that is known to do well, but we know they don't handle their successes well.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:42 PM on July 17, 2009


Metafilter: the absolute quickest stoked-to-bummed turnaround
posted by jeoc at 4:45 PM on July 17, 2009


Fucking Fox. Every incarnation of that Murdochian behemoth has royally screwed something I really love. 20th Century Fox? The Halo movie. Fox Broadcasting? Futurama, Firefly, Arrested Development. Fox News? Um, journalism.

It's really amazing how Fox continually manages to screw up good things. In a way, this botched "revival" is even worse than it merely being cancelled in peace. Along with the slashed budget, smaller writing staff, and shorter production schedule (as reported by Variety), this new Futurama shows all the signs of being a gutted sell-out dud. I, for one, won't be watching.

PS: These old clips help, but not that much:

Billy West as Zoidberg/Farnsworth/Fry/Brannigan
John Dimaggio as Bender... singing the Chargers theme song
posted by Rhaomi at 4:51 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Does Fox News count as Sci-Fi?

No. Science fiction takes existing knowledge and historical-technological-political-social-cultural developments and extrapolates from them, building thought experiments and what-ifs, informing and enlightening and seeking to explore and explain human ideology, morality, and nature. Fox News just makes shit up.
posted by aihal at 4:52 PM on July 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


And if FOX pulls a fast one and decided- hey, SURE we'll premiere it on network TV!- keep in mind that $375,000 is less than a single main cast member on The Simpsons now makes per episode

I'm not sure where the $375k figure came from. The Variety link says only $75k, a little less than 1/4 of a Simpsons cast member.
posted by sparkletone at 5:08 PM on July 17, 2009


(Oh. Wait. 5 main cast members * $75k = $375k I guess?)
posted by sparkletone at 5:09 PM on July 17, 2009


Okay, Mark Evanier, who knows the biz as well as anybody says:

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.

They do not want to replace those actors. Those actors helped make the show popular enough that it's still a viable commodity. Moreover, the company looks to wind up with a huge library of Futurama episodes — the old ones plus the new ones — which can rerun together for all eternity and be packaged together in mega-DVD sets. They want the same actors so Philip J. Fry will still be the same Philip J. Fry and so on.

They want those actors and have, in fact, arranged to have most of them at a panel at the Comic-Con in San Diego a week from tomorrow. 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.

It's hard to believe Fox could lunkheaded enough to change casts, especially given the way they're going about it. If they really did want to replace everyone, the way to do it would be to quietly talk with the top voice agents about the top voice talent...

If you're an aspiring cartoon voice actor who thinks "This is my break," think something else. They'll get thousands of submissions and it's unlikely that anyone with hiring capacity will ever listen to any of them. This is, like I said, not the way to really find a replacement. It's just a showy means of intimidating the actors and their agents...a way which costs the studio nothing. They don't even have to book time in a recording studio or have producers sit and listen to auditions. The whole idea is to be able to say to Billy West's agent, "Hey, we've got three thousand demos from guys who can imitate your boy's voice." But I know Billy's agent. He's been at this a long time and he knows how to not be intimidated and to arrive at a reasonable deal.


In a nutshell: Hard-assed negotiation tactic but most likely bluff. Yeah, that sounds like Fox.
posted by wendell at 5:27 PM on July 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


If this turns out to be a publicity stunt, I will not watch the new episodes. Because that's bullshit.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 5:29 PM on July 17, 2009


gaddamn FOX! UP AND AT THEM!!
posted by sexyrobot at 5:58 PM on July 17, 2009


I watched the fourth DVD (into the Wild Green Yonder) two nights ago and have been thinking about Futurama on idle the past day or so and I had this weird thought come into my head...what if they can't get a cast member back, would they write them out or use a soundalike. And then to read this only a few hours later...it's like I'm from the future, or the past but in the future which is now, or from a future version of the past.

Thank you.

I.C. Wiener.
posted by stevil at 6:09 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think this is good news. I was running low on Torgo's Executive Powder and am heartened to hear that a new supply is readily available!
posted by SPrintF at 6:21 PM on July 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sigh. Fuck you FOX, you fooled me again. Shakes fist in air.
posted by filmgeek at 6:22 PM on July 17, 2009


Wouldn't this be an awful publicity stunt, as it would keep a bunch of people from paying attention to the new episodes at all?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:41 PM on July 17, 2009


I never liked Zoidberg.
posted by clockzero at 7:05 PM on July 17, 2009


"the beat between "...it belongs to God." and "No, says the man in Moscow..." is kind of glaring."

I only realized a few days ago that was Armin Shimmerman. So weird.
posted by EarBucket at 7:06 PM on July 17, 2009


I never liked Zoidberg.

Zoidberg never liked you neither! [Shakes claw angrily]
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:03 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


*ahem*

Guys, basic cable is just an ad for the DVD's. The DVD's actually make the money.
posted by effugas at 8:27 PM on July 17, 2009


Just in case any of the agents for the voice actors read this, I just want to say two things...

1> We support you.
2> Come back at Fox's B.S. with a counter-offer.

Try saying something like this... "Okay. Clearly, $75K each is out of your price range. So... let's start at $90K, then." Watch them twich and balk, and then say "Too much? How about we settle on $100K?"

Either they want to make new episodes of Futurama, or they want to throw their time and all the money they've already invested away... and take a stock hit when it's announced that there's no deal and that the show fell through.

It's really that simple.
posted by markkraft at 8:46 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Arrested Development

You're bitching at fox for Arrested Development? REALLY? They gave AD three full seasons and are now producing an honest-to-god movie out of the thing. That's three seasons of truly abysmal ratings. In its third season AD average 4 million viewers. You know that show on CBS "The Big Bang Theory"? Another half hour comedy. It came in 44th in ratings last season... with over 10 million viewers per episode. 44th! With 2.5x as many viewers per episode.

What is Fox supposed to do with a show that gets 4 million viewers per episode and is losing 33% of its audience per season?

There isn't another network that wouldn't have canned the thing after 6 episodes aired if they even produced it in the first place. And Fox gave it three seasons and is still doing a movie out of it.

AD is an example of Fox being truly awesome and you're bitching at them for it!
posted by Justinian at 8:48 PM on July 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


It's like finding out you can fly, but only while listening to Billy Joel. -- posted by Afroblanco

You had to have the last word, didn't you?

Had to be a big shot.
posted by rokusan at 9:09 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're bitching at fox for Arrested Development? REALLY? They gave AD three full seasons and are now producing an honest-to-god movie out of the thing.

Damn, I knew I shouldn't have included that.

Honestly, I've only seen a few episodes of the show, so I'd be wrong to call myself a fan. But I was aware of it as a celebrated show that got pulled before its time. I also got a real bad impression from the recent ad campaign for one of their new animated shows, basically "apologizing" for cancelling Arrested Development while literally begging fans of the show to tune in to the new program, because it was sure to be just as good!!!1 It struck me as the same kind of crass, manipulative marketing/tweaking of the fanbase and I figured it'd make a good example of the kind of thing Fox does to its own lineup.

But I was wrong! So, -1 for me. (And thanks for setting me straight on the history of AD)
posted by Rhaomi at 9:30 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


My job is done. But trust that wherever someone is wrong on the internet, I'll be there.
posted by Justinian at 10:34 PM on July 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Everyone knows FOX sucks. Even if this is a publicity stunt, they still suck. What kind of asshole would do this to its viewers? Oh yeah, Fox would, Comedy Central would. boo on them.

I don't know any broads that like Family Guy.

Might possibly be because you use a term to describe women that is generally part of the vocabulary of drunken assholes. Seventh grade is that way --->
posted by IvoShandor at 11:12 PM on July 17, 2009


IvoShandor, I think box was just riffing off NiteMayr's comment that Family Guy had "broad appeal."
posted by Rhaomi at 11:31 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


WHAT?!

This is not OK. If I were absolutely forced to make some cast changes, I think Katey Segal and maybe Joe DiMaggio could maybe be successfully replaced. But Billy West and Maurice LaMarche and Tress MacNeille are some of the best voice actors in the business. A single guy plays Fry, Farnsworth, Zoidberg, and Zap Brannigan! One guy! And all sorts of other characters too, like Leo Wong. That's unreal.

So many of the jokes in Futurama are dependent on inflection and comic timing. Every joke is funnier because of its delivery, and a lot of the lines are funny only because of their delivery. For instance, when Prof. Farnsworth is being sucked into the whirlpool in the fountain of youth in the episode "Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles", he says something that looks entirely innocuous in the script:

"It's working! Hooray! [He starts to lose his grip.] I can't hold on!"

That line does not look funny at all. But somehow, Billy West managed to make the delivery of that boring line totally hilarious, and it's one of my favorite jokes in the episode. In the cast commentary, everyone gives Billy props for figuring out how to throw in an extra laugh right there. I can think of a ton of examples like this.

These guys are irreplaceable. I hope Fox is not serious about this.

Someone once asked me how much I'd be willing to pay to be able to do a pitch-perfect impersonation of Zoidberg. What a tough question.
posted by painquale at 11:35 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


IvoShandor, I think box was just riffing off NiteMayr's comment that Family Guy had "broad appeal."

I know. I disapprove. So I voiced my disapproval. Unfunny comment still unfunny.
posted by IvoShandor at 12:13 AM on July 18, 2009


Thank you, humor police.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:58 AM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're welcome. I will continue to point out misogynistic or racist jokes as such, I seek not your approval.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:32 AM on July 18, 2009


IvoShandor: And yet, what you've managed to do is make people who point out misogynistic jokes look like overreacting humourless fools and the people who make misogynistic jokes look like regular put upon people. Are you sure you're not working for the other side?
posted by Grimgrin at 2:42 AM on July 18, 2009 [8 favorites]


Your perception is your perception. And only that. The only side I work for is mine. if the term "broad" is acceptable for women, then label me a humorless fool. I don't find it acceptable or funny (even when used lightheartedly - which I dont think is possible), and think that anyone who does should re-evaluate their stance. For some reason I am humorless for pointing out that this is not an acceptable term. Try thinking about this from someone else's perspective, such as your mothers. (Which incidentally, is why it bothers me so much.)
posted by IvoShandor at 3:06 AM on July 18, 2009


Derail over. I wasn't trying to pick a fight anyway. I simply dont find the term OK, in any context.

And Fox still sucks . . .
posted by IvoShandor at 3:22 AM on July 18, 2009


It's like the little boy who cried "you're fired." Maybe now it's a publicity stunt, or a negotiating tactic but whether it's through the hook of outrage or the crook of cynicism, they want the power to hurt people without any fuss.
posted by wobh at 6:46 AM on July 18, 2009


I'll be in my angrydome.
posted by mimi at 7:00 AM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


(ugh, sorry, they've changed the audio on that ytmnd link.)
posted by mimi at 7:02 AM on July 18, 2009


I think Katey Segal and maybe Joe DiMaggio could maybe be successfully replaced.

Yes, but the impact on the Futurama softball team is going to be dramatic, particularly with the big game against South Park coming up.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:06 AM on July 18, 2009


IvoShandor: And Fox still sucks . . .

Interesting how someone can get so uptight over perceived misogyny in a deliberate pun, then with their very next breath use a term that refers to a sexual act in an extremely derogatory, and not remotely humorous, way.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:08 AM on July 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


Ugh, those broads over at Fox don't do anything right!
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:47 AM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Greg Ace wins the Internets (non-misogynist division). We need more non-fellatio-ist ways to express that message.
posted by wendell at 6:29 PM on July 18, 2009


Considering the last three movies were absolute rubbish, I, for one, find this development entirely non-plussing.
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:34 PM on July 18, 2009


Surely this is something that complaining on the internet will fix!
posted by Eideteker at 7:01 AM on July 19, 2009


Bad news, everyone.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:47 PM on July 19, 2009


Considering the last three movies were absolute rubbish, I, for one, find this development entirely non-plussing.

I think you mean non-non-plussing, yes?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:14 PM on July 20, 2009


Metafilter: Label me a humorless fool.

Usage, albeit Texan style: "I'm gonna go label me a humorless fool and be done with it!"
posted by 8-bit floozy at 8:00 PM on July 20, 2009


From thinkgeek@twitter:

• Voice actor in the field reports reading for Futurama! Sounds like a negotiation tactic so far, but casting call is *not* a hoax. about 2 hours ago
posted by elfgirl at 9:59 AM on July 21, 2009


Looks like the Futurama voice actors have been disinvited from Comic-Con panel:
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!"
LaMarr is one of the original voice actors from the show (voicing Hermes and an assortment of minor characters), so this looks pretty legit.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:07 PM on July 24, 2009


I'm willing to bet that Matt Groening and David X. Cohen and many other people involved care enough about the integrity of the show that they would walk if the voice actors were replaced. If FOX gets rid of the voice cast, they get rid of everyone.
posted by painquale at 4:34 PM on July 24, 2009


It seems as if the cast might've struck a deal to return!
posted by jaybeans at 3:51 PM on July 31, 2009


GOOD news everyone!!!
posted by wendell at 5:46 PM on July 31, 2009


About the Comic-Con panel:
full report

"[The voice cast] boycotted the show and left the panel dead and awkward. Matt Groening and David X. Cohen were forced to kill time, and fans were asked not to bring up the dispute." (source)

"A few of the voice actors joined Matt Groening signing autographs in the exhibit hall, suggesting producer-voice talent relations are still congenial despite the stand-off over salary. ...[In the panel, Groening and Cohen made some remarks supporting the cast and] read segments from past shows off script pages that were projected on screens in the hall. While they made no comment on the reasons for the unusual format, their flat, almost robotic tone could be interpreted as a subtle bid of support for the voice actors." (source)

And today, Variety reports the cast has signed deals to return.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:02 PM on July 31, 2009


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