Did the cast issues stall the show's return?
Now that we're all breathing a sigh of relief upon hearing that the original Futurama voice actors will will indeed be returning for the revival of the series, Variety has given an update on the status of the series.
According to the trade publication, all of the recent contract issues -- which included casting notices going out for potential replacements for the voice actors -- will not ultimately effect the show's timetable, and the animated series will return on schedule in mid-2010, airing on Comedy Central.
The move to cable has meant Futurama is being done on a much tighter budget than in its original network run, including a reduced writing staff and shorter production time for episodes. Variety says that it was believed that the voice cast were asking around $75,000 an episode to return (though they note at least one of the actors dispute this), but ended up lowering their request to $40,000. Variety says the final number settled upon was lower than that, but above the original offer from Futurama production company 20th Century Fox.
The deal 20th Century Fox made with Comedy Central allows for a broadcast network to first air the new episodes, should a separate deal be made. The natural place for that to occur would be the FOX network, both because of their corporate connection to 20th and because they were where Futurama first aired but as of now, no deal has been made with any network for the show. However, Variety notes that with a year still until Futurama is set to air on Comedy Central, a deal could still happen.