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Futurama Voices Could Be Recast 260

Posted by Soulskill
from the bite-my-shiny-metal-*** dept.
Svippy writes "According to reports surfacing on the Internet, Futurama may be recast. The animated series is due to return next year on Comedy Central, but may not be the same as we once knew it. 'As part of the announcement, the show's producers said stars including West, Sagal and DiMaggio had all signed on to return. Turns out that wasn't true. The stars had all expressed interest in returning. But with the budget for Futurama dramatically slashed, the salary offers came in well below what the thesps were asking.' Phil LaMarr posted 20th Century Fox's request for auditions on his Facebook page. However, some are skeptical about whether it's a real casting call or purely a stunt to reduce the salaries of the voice actors."
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Futurama Voices Could Be Recast

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  • ob (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shentino (1139071) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:17PM (#28736807)
    Bite my shiny metal ass!
    • by Kneo24 (688412)
      I think the phrase: "Bite my glorious golden ass" is too far underused and would be more appropriate here.
    • Re:ob (Score:5, Informative)

      by Blue Stone (582566) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:26PM (#28737325) Homepage Journal

      I love how the 'goodnewseveryone' tag is being negated - and replaced by 'badnewseveryone' - by people who obviously don't understand that the phrase is supposed to be ironic and prescient of bad news.

      Hand your nerd cards in at the door, please. You know who you are.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by AdmiralXyz (1378985)

        Farnsworth was known to say "Bad news, everyone" on occasion- like when the supercollider superexploded. Perhaps it is you who must hand over your card, hmm?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by flydude18 (839328)

          Are you sure that wasn't "Bad news, nobody"? Why even say anything and risk your nerd card?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Burning1 (204959)

          'Bad news, everyone' usually implied something that impacted Farnsworth himself, or news that the crew would not be sent on some suicidal task.

          If it sucked for someone else, it was usually good news. :)

        • by myrdos2 (989497)
          Good news everyone - there's some bad news on the TV!
        • Re:ob (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 18, 2009 @02:31AM (#28738665)

          This is what Slashdot is all about, two comic book store guys battling it out :D

      • Re:ob (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 18, 2009 @03:29AM (#28738933)
        Who cares what the tags say? Are you serious? Tags in general have debatable utility, but around here, what good are they?

        Take a look at the "tags" around here. Assume I could click on them to find more stories with those tags -- oh, I can't. I click on them and NOTHING HAPPENS.

        But let's assume I could. Typical tags are "haha", "whocares", "ohno", or crap like "badidea", "goodidea", and so forth. Who the HELL actually says, "Gee, I want to read more stories on the subject of 'haha', I'll just click on that... there we go..."

        Forget tags. They are useless in general, and slashdot's implentation of them is doubly useless.
        • Re:ob (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dachannien (617929) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @07:28AM (#28739723)

          Actually, the tags here serve one useful purpose: they provide a quick indicator of most Slashdotters' opinions related to the article. After all, a time-honored tradition around here is not R'ing TFA. With tags, now you don't have to read the comments, either.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)
      Bad news everyone!
    • by gurps_npc (621217)
      That was not insightful. Did you not read that they are re-casting the voices.

      Try again like this:

      Bite my shiny metal ARSE.

  • How effective would it be if thousands of fans submitted MP3 via email stating, "Leave the cast alone!" in varying degrees of passion and vernacular?
    • Re:Idea (Score:5, Informative)

      by FiveDozenWhales (1360717) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:25PM (#28736879)
      Not very? If you want the cast to stay on, either the cast needs to be appealed to, or the source of the money (Comedy Central) does. Not the production crew.
    • by risk one (1013529)

      Very effective! They could probably cut the voicework for three really low-budget episodes out of that.

    • Might be effective in getting the producers to dump the show again. Despite the fan base among geeks, it's obviously marginally profitable at best for them, hence the fact that it was already canceled once and the "dramatically slashed" budget this time.
      • by Kreigaffe (765218)

        It was 'marginally profitable' for Fox because they aired it at 7pm est on sundays. 1 hour before the Simpsons. At that point in time they were also putting out commercials for their Sunday line-up that stated... "YOUR SUNDAY STARTS AT 8!"

        I don't know if you recall that, but I do. Futurama was marginalized right out of the gate by Fox. Right now, I think there's 3 or 4 networks showing reruns of Futurama, which is at least one network per season.. clearly, the show WAS good, and SHOULD have been profi

    • I hate fox as much as the next guy *shed's a tear for firefly*, but isn't it possible that the voice actors are asking for too much, at the end of the day its the writers that make the show great (well the animators add little details in the background too) and while the voices are important, they may be letting it go to their heads. TBH i don't know, you don't know, all we know is fox don't want to pay the voice actors what they want!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209)
      I am a fan, but I don't care whether they re-cast. I think voice actors are grossly overpaid for what they do, taking advantage of their status as semi-recognizable and, for that reason only, hard to replace. The real genius behind the show was its writing, but writers are behind the scenes so they can't blackmail the producers for more $$$.
  • by Svippy (876087) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:18PM (#28736811) Homepage
    • What I'm finding confusing is that when Futurama first appeared, certain corners of the net made a big deal about how unlike The Simpsons, Groening actually wholly owned Futurama.

      Which makes me wonder why Fox are involved at all when it's on a different network.

      Or perhaps TVLand is just a lot more complicated than I realise.

      • Fox studios and Fox network are separate entities and have seperate powers as the Bender's Big Score commentary mentions
      • by hedwards (940851)
        Probably because they released the last 4 movies via Fox movies, which is a much different set of executives, but I suspect that the licensing is being done via Fox movies first then to comedy central for the broadcast rights.
    • by palndrumm (416336) *

      Another comment on the situation that's well worth reading:

      http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2009_07_17.html#017446 [newsfromme.com]

      Most likely it's just Fox making some noise to try to get the cast to sign on without having to pay them more money than absolutely necessary, and if they were at all serious about replacing anyone they'd be doing it very quietly behind the scenes instead of making public announcements.

    • In theory, it wouldn't really bother me as long as the characters sounded the same - that's one of the benefits of cartoons - that the "actors" never age on screen, so you can repeatedly recast the voices and keep the show going for decades... but in reality, the voice actors have grown into the role and provide numerous nuances that make up part of who the characters are. Replacing them all at once would certainly be noticeable, IMO.

      People need to settle down though. Pretending that they're never going

  • Comentary (Score:2, Informative)

    During the commentary's for the both the movies and the season DVDs all the voice actors always said that it was their favorite show to work on. It was hard to tell if this was simply pandering but they sounded genuinely sincere. Especially Billy West and John DiMaggio who seemed to be to big fans of the show. And I don't think Katty Segal is being flooded with job offers. The only ones I see moving on are the greatly talented Maurice Lamarche and Tres McNeil who do a lot of work other than Futurama and on
    • Re:Comentary (Score:5, Informative)

      by Svippy (876087) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:21PM (#28736845) Homepage

      Not to mention that Billy West - especially - and John DiMaggio have mentioned in numerous interviews how much they care for that show. Billy West once stated it was "the best gig he ever had [tv.com]".

      Would they really risk the entire show for some money, when they care so much for it? Of course not. I am personally beginning to suspect this is not a trade negotiation issue, but a publicity stunt to get Futurama on everyone's lips again.

      It also puts a lot more real to Comic-Con 2009's Futurama description [comic-con.org]:

      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

      • Re:Comentary (Score:5, Insightful)

        by KeithJM (1024071) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:10PM (#28737211) Homepage

        Would they really risk the entire show for some money, when they care so much for it?

        I've had some jobs I really enjoyed. The products were good, the people were great, and I loved my time there. If they called me right now and offered me less money than they used to pay me, I wouldn't go back.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mabhatter654 (561290)

          look at it this way, they got canned from one job they did very well and now the boss wants them back. It's obviously only going to be one season maybe two tops. While they get royalties, it's really just one paycheck, one time and it means moving across the country for several months only to not have a job when you're done, and possibly giving up other career-building NEW work. The studio gets to keep selling episodes and collecting ads for years to come.

      • Risk the entire show for some money?

        If you are talking about the voice actors: What if what they would get would be a total ripoff. Where do you draw the line? At 1 cent per gig?
        If you are talking about the TV network: You know that the only reason of existence for those companies is money, do you? Everything else is completely irrelevant to them. Half the world could die, and they would still try to make as much money out of it as possible.

        • AFAICT, the studio isn't offering them less than they made, just not as much as they're asking for. Let's say your happy job paid you $60K per year when they had to let you go for financial reasons. They call you after a few years and ask you to come back. You say, "Sure, but I want $300K per year." They'd rightly turn you down on that number, but may well come back and offer you $100K or more if they really felt they needed you and you provided that much value. Would you take it? Depends on your circ

          • Except the company needs YOU because it's ten million dollars worth of income that would be easier with YOUR help. Once the project is done, they're just going to cut you lose again (business is business), so it's not really your problem right now (they fired you) so how much is it worth to make it your problem?

      • Re:Comentary (Score:5, Informative)

        by ShinmaWa (449201) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:24PM (#28737309)

        With very rare exception, television shows are renewed in public and cancelled in private. Since this is a VERY public thing at Comic-Con, the conclusion is foregone. If the cast were fired live on stage, agents would be filing lawsuits on behalf of their humiliated clients within seconds and the executive would be lynched in the hallway. The audience, who would obviously be ticked off, would resent FOX. Why send an executive on a PR mission to intentionally piss off your viewers and draw the ire of the SAG?

        So, here's the result: Everyone makes nice, and the show is renewed with the original cast. There might even be a movie deal to up the ante. If there was any doubt about this, there would be no Comic-Con thing at all.

        Nothing to see here. Publicity Stunt. Move along.

      • The problem I've seen is taking a pay cut for the team usually doesn't extend to everyone. Look at what just happened with the pay cuts at the New York Times! The CEO walks away with a bonus for saving money slashing your salary.
  • by Gudeldar (705128) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:18PM (#28736823)
    I absolutely will NOT watch it without the original cast. I can't imagine anyone other than Billy West voicing Fry.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Or Zoidburg, or Farnsworth... But yeah, Fry's voice is classic Billy West, and unimitable.
      • by hedwards (940851)
        That's generally the problem with cartoon series, most of the time you'll get one of three or four people doing 90% of the voices. Which is also why it's so hard sometimes to figure out who's doing the voice.

        There's already been a bit of that sort of shenanigans with some of the minor characters, I think that Santa was among some that was done by different voice actors over time.
    • I wonder if John Kricfalusi will audition?

          -- Still bitter about Billy West taking over the voice of Ren.

  • by religious freak (1005821) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:18PM (#28736825)
    You know, when a new voice appears on an old show playing an existing character (memory escapes me at this moment for an example, but I know this has happened), I always wonder why folks generally don't just make the new voice sound like the old voice. This happened to at least a couple childhood cartoons of mine - the voice suddenly changed and ... WTF?

    Let's hope they decide to bring in folks that sound the same (or very similar) if they do recast. Having different voices would be pretty lame.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Funny timing for this as I've introduced my kids to The Real Ghostbusters, a show where both Venkman and Janine's voices changed.

      Venkman sounds like someone doing a very bad immitation of Lorenzo Music (which of course they are) whereas Janine's voice (the lovely Kath Soucie) is actually MUCH better as it's not as squeaky in the "channeling Annie Potts" way the former one was.

  • voices (Score:5, Funny)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:20PM (#28736841)

    In just about every anime, cartoon series, and live-action where they've tried to swap one actor's voice for another, the series usually tanks not long after the switch is made. The only thing worse for a series is to get someone pregnant, involve a baby, or suddenly tack on a female lead or support role when one previously wasn't present. Or a consult with Joss Whedon.

  • by dancingmad (128588) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:23PM (#28736849)

    Wait, this isn't good news at all.

    Seriously, the voice actors in Futurama gave their characters heart and soul. It's not just that the actors are good (they are, of course) but the characters have grown along with the actors, such that in my mind, and in the mind of many fans I am sure, the two are inseparable.

    Without the original cast, I won't be watching, simple as that.
    It's going to cost more money in the long run to produce an abject failure than to put more money into the show from the start and hoping the fanbase comes back.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Without the original cast, I won't be watching, simple as that.

      That's what we said about Star Trek. And yet, we keep going...

      • by carlzum (832868) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:57PM (#28737527)
        The difference is they're recasting the characters, not creating a new story line with new characters. Actually, I'd prefer if they did the later. Like Star Trek, Futurama's premise could work if told from a different perspective. Imagine the original Star Trek was recast rather than creating the Next Generation? Futurama's intelligent approach to parody is what makes it great. I'd miss Bender and Fry, but not enough to suffer through other actors mimicking their voices.

        It could even breath some life into the series, the last two DVD releases felt like the current story-lines were running out of gas (Leela-Fry relationship, Nibbler's true identity, etc). Bender's Game really seemed like the writers out of ideas.
        • by Jonner (189691)

          Yes, I'd rather see a Futurama spin-off with new characters than the original characters without their voice actors.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        And unlike Star Trek we raised it from the dead and we can kill it. Fox has been screwing around with the fan base for quite some time, and I hope the execs at Fox movies have learned something from the idiots at the Fox TV division.
    • Agreed. When I watch my old Futurama DVDs, I more often than not watch with the commentary track turned on. I swear I do have actual friends in real life, but those guys are kind of like the friends I never had. There's no way in hell I'd bother watching if they're not involved.

      For that matter, I thought the Transformers movie sucked because they didn't let Frank Welker provide Megatron's voice. I mean, seriously, I can get Megan Fox pics on the Tubes - I don't need a crappy movie for that.

    • Yeah, one of the reasons I like Futurama is that it has a cast of characters that are really likable, that the actors have invested a lot of time into making special.

      And Zoidberg.

  • by VinylRecords (1292374) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:29PM (#28736919)

    Obviously the executives didn't take the Torgo's Executive Powder jokes all that well...

  • by sootman (158191) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:35PM (#28736971) Homepage Journal

    I've invented a device which makes you read this in your head, in my voice! [geekstir.com]

    Which is a good thing because you won't actually be hearing my voice while you watch the show! Better turn subtitles on, mwa?

  • Speech-to-text (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hadlock (143607) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:40PM (#28737017) Homepage Journal

    They have what, 100+ hours of speech recorded for Futurama, presumably the original masters as well? Probably 1,000 hours of speech for each character on The Simpsons on masters. Not to mention accurate closed captioning for the voicings. How hard would it be to write an algorithm to cut and paste the correct words (picking the correct word inflection based on word placement in the sentence/context - presumably there are angry, happy, elated, monotone versions of most words, and the sound files can be edited to convincingly make them sound in context) together? Sure, you'd have to hand-synthesize the occasional odd word or celebrity-head-in-a-jar's name, but we're probably not very far off from being able to fire the voice actors after the third season of a dialog-driven cartoon.

    • Re:Speech-to-text (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ConceptJunkie (24823) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:00PM (#28737147) Homepage Journal

      "Hello... Smithers... You're. quite. good. at. turning. me. on."

      I'll give you a hint. If that were in any way possible, we'd be seeing it now. At least for some show like "Pokemon" where the dialog tend to be extremely simple.

      We'll see truly convincing computer-generated people long before we'll be hearing them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by wiredlogic (135348)

        If that were in any way possible, we'd be seeing it now.

        Actually in a limited scope is is possible to synthesize the speech of a real person. The only problem is that the researcher who came up with the system was DARPA funded and his project went black after it was initially reported on in the media. There was some footage of him with a recreation of Whoopi Goldberg's voice saying novel things. This is a technology that the spooks want exclusive control over for as long as they can.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Hadlock (143607)

        At this point it's still cheaper to pay high quality voice actors than it is to replace them with software. We have the technology (heck we have software now that can decompile individual strings on a guitar (inside a chord, no less), voices and other instruments and retune the individual notes, remove, add or modify guitar riffs, choruses, bridges etc - google Melodyne or "direct note access" or just watch this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFCjv4_jqAY [youtube.com]), we just need a person and time to write the p

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Itninja (937614)
        I know from watching the special edition of the Simpsons DVD special features (season 8 I think), they already do this in a limited way. Do you think that every 'D'oh!', 'Ay, caramba!', and 'Exccccellent' are created fresh for every episode that requires them? Because they are not. There is some kind of sound bank they keep clips of all the oft-used lines in. It's not too hard of a stretch to imagine that being expanded to more and more lines over time.
    • by Dragonslicer (991472) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:10PM (#28737209)
      It worked real well for South Park with Isaac Hayes.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bertoelcon (1557907)
      On the one hand that is a good idea.

      On the other hand the media corporations may use it as a way to copyright a voice, even in a way that the original actors themselves can't sound like that out of the contracted uses.

      On a similar note does anyone own Darth Vader's breath sound effect?

      • by Hadlock (143607)

        I think the Darth Vader breath sound effect could be trademarked, but Lucas hasn't defended their trademark for over 30 years so it's pretty much become a genericized trademark [wikipedia.org].

        • by Kalriath (849904) *

          You can't trademark that kind of thing. You're thinking of a copyright [wikipedia.org]. Which does NOT become invalid just due to disuse.

          • by Hadlock (143607)

            wikipedia: A trademark is a distinctive sign (phrase) or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or services from those of other entities.

            I'll go with "phrase" here. The vader breathing noise is a pretty distinguishable noise, more or less instantly recognizable by most people, and people who've never even seen s

    • by xbytor (215790)

      Look at how well it worked for Chef on Southpark.

    • by chill (34294)

      You aren't a big South Park far, are you?

      If you were, you'd instantly think of the episode where Chef becomes a pedophile and is killed.

      • by Hadlock (143607)

        What season/episode now I'm curious

        Using southpark as an example in any simile involving quality is going to end up being about as accurate as a car analogy unfortunately. It's like someone said "let's try and make a cartoon that we can compress down to less than 20mb per episode and not lose any quality" (search "psp southpark" or "video ipod southpark" all the eps are like 56k sound and 400x300px video but it all scales beautifully at h.264 due to how simple everything is. Cartman and the gang sound just

    • Check out Vocaloid 2 [crypton.co.jp], the Japanese singing synthesizer. This does a nice job. Here's a sample. [crypton.co.jp]

      Setting up Vocaloid for a new voice is a big job; the current version requires that the performer sing a long, standardized set of training syllables. Once you have the voice configured, you feed in a MIDI file with lyrics, pitch, and timing info, and singing or talking comes out.

      Clearly, the next step is the ability to train the system from unstandardized speech and singing samples. Once that technology

  • Casting notice (Score:5, Informative)

    by HumanEmulator (1062440) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:55PM (#28737127)

    I work in the business and I saw a casting notice for this go out yesterday. Right now (if you're a member) you can see the notice on a site called Actor's Access here [actorsaccess.com] and the sides are up on Showfax [showfax.com].

    Casting notices for shows like this almost never appear on a site like that (it's a step above Craigslist), so my best guess this is a negotiation tactic to convince the cast to accept contracts that pay less, in line with the reduced budget for the show.

  • Hmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by Cloud K (125581) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:56PM (#28737129)

    It just won't be right without Wakka as Bender :)

  • by Werrismys (764601) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:33PM (#28737381)
    As long as they keep Zapp Brannigan, Zoidberg, and Fry. They're perfect. Except Fry, who sucks. But excels at it. And the professor. And the hypnotoad. All bow to the mighty hypnotoad.

    They could replace ... the kids, the rasta dude, the japanese chick, etc.

    They could find an even sexier Leelaaaah... Leeluuuhh... Lee-Laaa.

    • by Obfuscant (592200)
      They could find an even sexier Leelaaaah... Leeluuuhh... Lee-Laaa.

      Should I kill him now, Doctor?

  • by keyboarderror (1596427) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:44PM (#28737453)
    Farnsworth: Well, it looks like I'll be needing my heroic bureaucrat back. At severely-reduced pay, of course. [The staff cheer.] LaBarbara: It's better than nothing. Fry: What about me? Can I come back at severely-reduced pay? Hermes: You got it, mon! In fact, severely-reduced pay all around!
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:48PM (#28737473) Homepage Journal

    However, some are skeptical about whether it's a real casting call or purely a stunt to reduce the salaries of the voice actors."

    If they all have East Indian accents, then the question is answered.
         

  • NNNNOOOOOOOOoooooooooo! (It was supposed to be "yes", but I gave it a little twist)
  • on the show? The crew gets into a horrible accident that requires them to get voice box transplants, and Bender's voice gets erased and he is programmed with a different one.

    This is almost as bad in a TV series when an actor or actress is replaced with a different one, and it usually happens to Soap Operas and really Cheesy TV shows. The only TV show to do this on a regular basis and still survive was Saturday Night Live, who kept reinventing themselves with new comedians.

    • Bewitched switched "Darrin Stephens" from Dick York (1964-1969) to Dick Sargent (1969-1972) and did well. Even spun off a few shows and cartoons.

      Man, am I dating myself.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      on the show? The crew gets into a horrible accident that requires them to get voice box transplants, and Bender's voice gets erased and he is programmed with a different one.

      What a nice idea. If this recasting turns out to be a bluff, I'd love to see them poke fun at it for the opening of the first new episode...get random people the mail room, HR, etc., to voice everybody for the first 5 minutes (or something similar).

      Of course if they actually recast, I expect it will go down in flames...I just can't see it being the same.

  • by absoluteflatness (913952) <absoluteflatness&gmail,com> on Friday July 17, 2009 @10:39PM (#28737785)

    Maybe this (or the more normal work schedule of a normal series rather than the "movies"), will get some of the voice actors to return to their original form.

    I think that some of the actors (particuarly Phil LaMarr, interestingly) never quite got the hang of their old characters again.

    Losing the old cast would still be a death blow to the show, though.

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