Cohen/Groening On Futurama’s Future (and Billy West)

Ever since Futurama voice actor Billy West announced prematurely at the February 2009 Anime Supercon (seen here in a video interview on YouTube) that FOX was considering a sixth season for the series, fans have been buzzing about the news…despite FOX’s attempt to shush the “rumor.”

Newsarama has just published an interview with series co-creator David X. Cohen in which he clarifies the possibility as “optimistic.”

“The good news is there seems to be a genuine fact that the powers that be at Fox are discussing more Futurama,” says Cohen. “The bad news is they’re not discussing it with us. They are only talking among themselves, and I don’t know what they’re thinking. I place the odds at 50/50.”

And on Billy’s “optimism” for the series’ continuation, Cohen adds:

I see it as a sign of just what a great cast we have that there’s some wishful thinking in his comments. You can hear his enthusiasm when he does the Professor, Fry, Zoidberg or any of his other characters. We put Billy through a Herculean workout when we do Futurama, and it’s always startling the things that man can come up with. There are whole scenes where it’s just him. It can include all the characters we mentioned and then ten minor ones as well. There are times where we go ‘OK. Everyone take a break…except Billy. No break for you.’ People just have no idea the inhuman strength it takes to do something like that.

I have an idea of it now because there are times when I’m put in the booth to put in patch recordings because one actor or another can’t make it, and the animators need someone to do the lines. I would get a sore throat because everyone says their lines with such force, it just blows your vocal chords out.

And the series’ other co-creator, Matt Groening, says in a related interview on CNN, “We have a great relationship with Comedy Central [who owns the series’ rights] and we would love to do more episodes for them, but I don’t know. Maybe. I think one of the factors will be how well [Into The Wild Green Yonder] sells, because of these troubled times where everybody’s gnashing their teeth and biting their nails.”

Groening says he hopes Yonder isn’t the end of Futurama. “If it is, we feel we’re offering an emotionally satisfying conclusion to this epic science fiction saga.” Groening adds, “But we did leave the door open just a bit in case we get renewed. We’re having discussions and there is some enthusiasm but I can’t tell if it’s just me.”

The three prior films (Bender’s Big Score, The Beast with a Billion Backs, and Bender’s Game) are being considered the “fifth season” of Futurama, and Comedy Central will be splitting Yonder into 4 parts for TV broadcast.

Groening also comments on working with Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane who voices a Vegas-style crooner in Yonder: “[It] was a real treat to work with Seth and confound the people who want to believe there’s some kind of feud between Seth and myself.”

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