10 Years Ago in November, 1999…

11.15.2009

After over a month’s absence (which I’ll explain shortly), I wanted to make sure I noted here that November 2009 marks the 10th year since I began publishing Voice Actors in the News. (If you’d like to read the history behind this blog, click the “About” link above.) And I’d been planning some big announcements to coincide with my 10th anniversary of service to the fandom. Unfortunately, the loss of my computer ruined all that as I don’t have access to any of the materials and projects I was working on to commemorate this milestone.

But I wanted to thank all my readers over the last 10 years for their support via Toon Zone (especially to Toon Zone founders Brian and Eileen “Harley” Cruz for offering me a platform for my newsletter) and the members of The Voice Actor Appreciation Society which served as the home for the newsletter for the greater part of this decade. And I’d also like to thank the many professional voice actors I’ve come into contact with over the years for their contributions to the newsletter and their compliments on the “work” I’ve done here as a labor of love for my fellow fans, and also to both the fans and professionals for the many friendships I’ve developed as a result.

I’d also like to offer a very special thanks to Kristy Sproul of VoiceChasers.com and Doreen Mulman of “Sites By Doreen” (aka LeftForever.com) for their friendship over the last decade.

If memory serves, I became friends with both Kristy and Doreen prior to starting this newsletter service. Our mutual admiration for voice actors and a love for animated cartoons helped to forge a bond of friendship which would later develop into an international community of fandom.

We voice actor enthusiasts may be a small niche fan group compared to most, but when I consider the years before discovering the Internet in the mid-90’s — when I thought I was alone in my hobby and appreciation for voice actors — it’s such a great feeling to know that there are others in the world who share the hobby and to be able to develop friendships and a sense of community with our fellow fans as well.

I don’t know when I’ll finally be able to announce what I had planned for the 10th Anniversary, but rest assured that when I do I think you’ll find it was worth the wait.

That being said, I must apologize to my faithful readers for my absence in the last month or so.

Besides my time online being severely limited due to working long hours on recent TV/film shoots and performing for some live events, I suffered an unfortunate setback a few weeks ago when my PC was infected by a vicious malware program that completely shut down my computer.

I have only limited web access in the meantime which will further delay updates until I can get the computer fixed.

I’m also going to be in Savannah, GA for about two weeks since I was cast in a featured role in The Conspirator directed by Robert Redford. I probably won’t have internet access while on this shoot, so I ask your patience until I can update regularly again around the second week of December.

In the meantime, I would encourage you to browse the Blogroll here for the various voice actor blogs and Twitter pages I’ve linked, particularly those by Kristy Sproul (VoiceChasers.com), Doreen Mulman (LeftForever.com and “Sites By Doreen” on Facebook), Mark Evanier (NewsFromME.com), Kyle Hebert (KyleHebert.com), Paul Rugg (froynlaven.blogspot.com), Vox Daily, VoiceOverXtra.com, Bob Souer (“The Voiceover Boblog” at BobSouer.com) and The toonzone regularly has voice-actor related news posts as well.

Although there are a number of VA-related blogs I read on a weekly basis — these are the ones I read most frequently.

And thanks again to my readers and friends for their support over the last decade.

– Craig “Voiceroy” Crumpton
Publisher: Voice Actors in the News

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The Great Atlanta Flood of 2009, and other reasons for a lack of updates

09.23.2009

I apologize for the lack of updates recently, but I’ve been busy with quite a few TV/film gigs as well as live performances. Being that I’m a working actor, work takes priority over hobbies… such as this blog.

And I just booked working on “Due Date,” a Warner Bros. feature film directed by Todd Phillips (The Hangover, Old School) and starring Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Jamie Foxx and Michelle Monaghan. Although I look nothing like him, I’ve been hired as a stand-in for Zach Galifianakis, so I doubt I’ll have much time to update the blog over the next three weeks while I’m working on the film shoot in the Atlanta area.

Flood damage at Six Flags Over Georgia. Image courtesy ABC News.

Flood damage at Six Flags Over Georgia. Image courtesy ABC News.

Also, there’s kind of a major crisis where I live in the Atlanta area right now, with major interstates and many highways shut down due to flooding. And it looks like Six Flags Over Georgia may be changing it’s name to Six Flags Under Water. My wife and I are fine — we’ve only had about 10 inches of rain where we live, and no property damage at all, thankfully.

Speaking of the ATL flood, a Facebook friend of mine brought the following photo to my attention — I don’t know the source of this photo, and I certainly don’t mean to make light of the damage flooding has caused to surrounding Atlanta areas. But I just couldn’t help but laugh at this.

And the local weather forecast calls for rain through Sunday, so this isn’t over yet.

So anyway, I’m having to take a break from the blog for a bit. In the meantime, updates here will be extremely limited, and I apologize to my readers for having to go on temporary hiatus but blogging doesn’t pay the bills.

While I’m away, I would encourage new readers to poke through the archives. And my regulars should browse the ever-increasing blogroll, to which I’ve quietly made many additions every single week.

Thanks to everyone for their patience while I’m away, and I promise to have lots of new content and updates whenever I’m able to find some free time to do so.


There be dragons here…

09.05.2009

Just giving a heads-up that there will be limited-to-no updates until sometime next week due to my attendance at Dragon*Con 2009 in Atlanta, GA as a reporter for Toon Zone.

However, I will have reports from all the voice actor-related panels plus photos to share when I’m able to finally get some sleep after the convention ends.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting nightly news updates with D-Con coverage at Toon Zone through Monday, and already in Friday night’s post there are some details of interest to voice actor enthusiasts.

Voice actor guests at this convention include:

C. Martin Croker
Charlie Fleischer
Neil Kaplan
Richard Epcar
Scott Houle
Bob Bergen
Vic Mignogna
Dana Snyder
Unknown Hinson
Bobby Ellerby
Dave Willis
Jay Edwards
Ron Glass
Rick Forrester
Michael Brady
Doc Hammer
Jackson Publick
Alessandro Juliani
Scott Adsit
George Lowe

And some of the “celebrity” guests who have also performed voice-overs for various TV/film productions:

Patrick Stewart
William Shatner
Leonard Nimoy
Malcolm McDowell
Anthony Daniels
Dwight Schultz
Peter Jurasik
Lani John Tapu
James Marsters
Edward James Almos
Dean Haglund

And the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company is making their annual appearance and live performance at D-Con as well.

And there are likely a few guests I’m omitting, but I’m in a bit of a rush at the moment. And normally, I’d include some of their voice credits in parentheses, but I actually need to leave for the con… like, 10 minutes ago. You can view the full 2009 Dragon*Con guest list (and their credits) at Dragoncon.org.


The Jim Cummings Interview: Outtakes, Photos and Biography

09.03.2009

Jim Cummings in an undated publicity photo. (Photo credit: Disney PR)

Jim Cummings in an undated publicity photo. (Photo credit: Disney PR)


Toon Zone has published my interview with cartoon voice acting legend Jim Cummings, originally conducted by phone July 28th just prior to the August 4th DVD release of The Tigger Movie 10th Anniversary Edition.

In this candid and extensive interview, Jim discusses The Tigger Movie; his process for performing voice matches/sound-alikes; his role as Ray the firefly in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog (and the controversies surrounding the film); his Daytime Emmy nomination; Sterling Holloway (Pooh’s original voice); Phil Harris (Disney’s Jungle Book, Robin Hood); his cameo in the live-action Comic Book: The Movie; and the infamous “Carol Channing Story.”

I’m also pleased to announce that Jim’s full audio from this interview will be available here exclusively in the near future.

And to my fellow Jim Cummings fans out there — especially those reading this by way of Toon Zone, Jim’s Facebook fanpage (hosted by Hillary DePiano, webmaster of The Cult of Cummings), The Voiceover Bulletin Board, and The Acorn Cafe — if you’re curious to know how it was to get the chance to chat with Jim on the phone…

Well, words like “thrilled,” “excited,” and “beyond ecstatic” come to mind. I lost count how many different character voices did during the course of the interview (which you’ll hear in the audio later), so it was like getting a private, one-man show (which others will be able to enjoy later when the audio is posted).

I should mention that this interview was booked on very short notice, giving me very little prep time. But I’m very grateful and appreciative to Ed at Toon Zone for passing the opportunity along to me.

Initially, it was scheduled to be only a 10-minute interview. However, Dustin Sandoval of Click Communications graciously honored my request to extend my interview to 20 minutes, and then my Disney contact permitted it to run a full 30 minutes. Otherwise, I would have never had time to cover the core topics I hoped to address.

Here’s an excerpt from my original interview, omitted from the published version at Toon Zone because it was a dated question about the status of Jim’s official website: JimJCummings.com. Up until the time of the interview, his site had been down for quite some time, so I asked him when it might return. And unfortunately, my audio recording software glitched during part of his response and thus made it un-transcribable (if that’s a word). So to summarize, Jim explained his site had been down due to switching servers, although he didn’t quite know how to express it that way. He explained thusly:

I have to be honest with you. I’m still a bit of a “Luddite” – I think I topped out at VCRs. (laughs) I’m part Amish. I kind of put the site up [in 2007] in the original form and it’s kind of stayed there ever since. It’s been fun [to make] for people. What can I say…my mom likes it.

Jim also assured me that it would be back for good after it relaunched, which as you can now see is back — probably happened sometime in early August due to the release of The Tigger Movie and other interviews Jim did concerning his Daytime Emmy nomination.

Another excerpt you won’t hear in the final version of the published audio is my confession to Jim that I went — by myself — to see The Tigger Movie when it first premiered in February 2000, simply because Jim was involved in the movie.

In 2000, I was almost 30 years old and single with no kids. So for me to be sitting — by myself — in a theater with parents and kids just to hear Jim’s performance… well, that’s true fan devotion for you. (Although I’m sure parents in the audience who saw me by myself, watching a kids movie, thought I was some kind of creepy, weirdo geek.)

But Jim seemed flattered that I had done this, and said that it was nothing to be ashamed of.

Moving onto the reason the interview was scheduled in the first place — The Tigger Movie 10th Anniversary Edition DVD

In spite of the film’s flaws and young target demographic, it’s an entertaining film on the merits of the traditional animation, the musical numbers composed by the legendary Sherman Brothers, and the great character voice performances, including:

Jim Cummings skillfully performing both Tigger and Pooh (who also sings as both characters in the film)
Ken Sansom as Rabbit
John Fiedler as Piglet
Peter Cullen as Eeyore
Andre Stojka as Owl
Nikita Hopkins as Roo
Kath Soucie as Kanga
Tom Attenborough as Christopher Robin
John Hurt as the Narrator

It’s also visually appealing as the animators were able to recreate the animation style from the original Winnie the Pooh cartoons. And for those of you with younger children, it’s a lighthearted, fun family film (the DVD press release Disney provided states that the previous DVD release of the movie “is the best-selling pre-school DVD of all time” according to a 2008 Nielsen report).

And two previously-unreleased to DVD vintage Pooh cartoons are included as bonus features: “King the of Beasties” and “Tigger’s Houseguest” from The New Adventures of Winnie The Pooh (1988), which features (besides the aforementioned cast who reprise their roles in The Tigger Movie) Paul Winchell as Tigger, Hal Smith as Owl, Michael Gough as Gopher, and Tim Hoskins as Christopher Robin.

Other features include a bonus digital copy of the movie (for Macs, PCs, portable digital devices), “Your Heart Will Lead You Home” Kenny Loggins music video, and for the kiddies: “Round My Family Tree” sing-along, Movie DVD Storybook, and interactive trivia and matching games. The trivia game is actually worth noting because, as Toon Zone’s Ed Liu says in his review, “correctly answering all the questions unlocks a pleasant, brief video on the history of Winnie the Pooh as a liteary figure and a Disney character.”

Unfortunately, Jim was not asked to record any new materials for this DVD release, as he stated in my interview.

I mentioned Jim’s role in Comic Book The Movie earlier — I’m actually planning a feature on CBTM since 2009 marks the 5th anniversary since the movie was released. I covered CBTM extensively for Toon Zone back in 2003 (here’s the archive of the original feature article). And then after the movie released on DVD January 27, 2004, I still had some additional materials related to the movie which I wasn’t able to publish due to lack of internet access.

I need some time to finish compiling data and recovering files and photos from an old hard drive, so this feature will be published sometime in November. I also hope to have some follow-up interviews with CBTM’s cast and crew to coincide with the article.

In the meantime, here are a few photos from the CBTM panel Mark Hamill hosted at the 2003 San Diego Comic-Con — easily one of the most entertaining con panels I have ever attended:

L to R: Roger Rose, Debbie Derryberry, Donna D'Errico, Jess Harnell, Jim Cummings, Mark Hamill

L to R: Roger Rose, Debbie Derryberry, Donna D'Errico, Jess Harnell, Jim Cummings, Mark Hamill


L to R: Roger Rose, Debbie Derryberry, Jess Harnell, Billy West, Jim Cummings, Mark Hamill

L to R: Roger Rose, Debbie Derryberry, Jess Harnell, Billy West, Jim Cummings, Mark Hamill


Jim Cummings with Craig Crumpton after the 'Comic Book: The Movie' panel at SDCC 2003.

Jim Cummings with Craig Crumpton after the 'Comic Book: The Movie' panel at SDCC 2003.

And finally, Disney also provided a bio on Jim, added here for archival purposes:

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“Tell the kid he’s got it,” said the legendary Mel Blanc with a smile, after listening to a young man’s first demo tape of cartoon character voices. The year was 1984, “the kid,” was Jim Cummings. Since then, “the kid” has gone on to give life and voice to some of America’s most beloved animated characters, even a few of the late Mel Blanc’s, and in May, Cummings was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for his work as the lovable Tigger on Disney Channel’s “My Friends Tigger and Pooh,” in which he also voices everyone’s favorite bear, Winnie the Pooh.

Born and raised in Youngstown Ohio, Cummings spent Saturday mornings riveted to the TV screen as he mimicked the characters in his favorite cartoons, all the while dreaming that one day he would voice them himself. At age 19, he moved to New Orleans, where he performed as a drummer, a singer, a deck hand on riverboats, and even designed and created Mardi Gras floats, all the while absorbing the rich characters and accents that would some day find expression in animation.

Years later, Cummings relocated to Southern California and managed a video store as he pursued his childhood dream. He gave his first demo tape to a customer who was also a movie producer, and the rest, as they say, is history. In 1984, Cummings landed his first role as Lionel the Lion, in Disney Channel’s “Dumbo’s Circus.” During his illustrious career, he has worked extensively for the Walt Disney Studios voicing classic characters such as Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, King Louis, Kaa the Snake, Pete (formerly peg-legged Pete), and more. His many other Disney credits include Darkwing Duck, Bonkers, Fat Cat, and Monterey Jack on “Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers,” Don Karnage on “Talespin,” and too many others to mention here.

Cummings has done scores of voices for Warner Bros. as well, including Taz the Tasmanian Devil himself, Steven Spielberg’s “Animaniacs,” “Tiny Toon Adventures,” “Batman,” “Pinky and the Brain,” “Taz-Mania,” “Duck Dodgers,” and more. Other credits include “King of the Hill,” “Bump in the Night,” “Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius,” “The Replacements,” “The Addams Family,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Star Wars Clone Wars,” “The Simpsons,” “Barnyard,” and “Catdog.” He was also “AC,” the lead singer of the famed claymation “California Raisins” cartoon series.

Not limited to the small screen, Cummings has acted in several blockbuster feature films for Dreamworks including “Shrek,” “Antz,” “Kung Fu Panda’s Furious 5,” “Hook,” “The Bee Movie,” “Balto,” and more. His credits read like a top-list of animated and live-action films. Credits include “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “Tarzan,” “Pocahontas,” “The Lion King,” “Babe: Pig in the City,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Brother Bear 2,” to name a few.

Cummings’ uncanny ability to sing in character and voice match for stars who are, in his words, “great actors, just not great singers,” has led to many platinum and gold records for soundtracks like “Anastasia,” “The Lion King,” “Fox and the Hound 2,” “Pocahontas,” “Hercules,” and more.

His most recent musical turn will be as Ray, the Cajun firefly, in Disney Studio’s feature, “The Princess and the Frog,” due in theaters Christmas 2009 with Oscar-winner Randy Newman as composer. Cummings’ work in voice over includes hundred of television and radio commercials, movie trailers, promos, and videogames. “Pretty much anything involving microphones, music, noise in general, and padded walls,” jokes the affable actor, and “remember, only you can prevent forest fires,” so says Smokey the Bear, aka, Jim Cummings. No matter how busy Cummings’ schedule may be, it all stops when Famous Fone Friends or the Make-A-Wish Foundation call on behalf of a very ill child and distraught family in need of a phone call from their favorite cartoon character. “Just bringing a respite, however brief, and perhaps a smile and giggle or two means so much to the child and their families. I consider it a true blessing to be able to do that.”

Cummings is a proud father of four and resides somewhere in Southern California with his wife Stephanie, their beautiful daughters Grace, Lulu Rose, and their critters.

================

I’d like to offer a special thanks to Jim for his time and participation in the interview (it was indeed an honor and a privilege), as well as Dustin Sandoval (Click Communications) and Alexis with Disney PR for helping to set the interview up.

Related post: 8.27.2009 — ‘Rescue Rangers’ Voice Cast Featured in Vintage Video Clip


Updates: Bill Kopp, Brad Garrett, Mel Blanc

08.20.2009

Some addendums to previous posts:

– A Voice Actors in the News exclusivea promo image for the Dumb Bunny and Jackass adult animated comedy series produced by Bill Kopp and Brad Garrett, with some additional details direct from Bill Kopp.

– Added several video clips and links to my Mel Blanc tribute.


Diedrich Bader Guests on ‘Drop Dead Diva’

08.08.2009

As I mentioned in a May 20th post, the episode of Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva (#103, “The Chinese Wall”) with guest star Diedrich Bader (Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Grim & Evil, The Zeta Project) aired Sunday, August 2nd.

My apologies that it slipped my mind to post an update before Sunday, but it’s no biggie now since you can watch the full episode online at MyLifetime.com. (Sorry, can’t embed the video for this one.)

In this episode, Diedrich plays the owner of a deceased champion Golden Retriever show dog who sues a pet cloning company for breach of contract because he argues the cloned dog is not the same as his original pet.

I actually had the opportunity to work on this same episode (I’ve been working on Diva as a background performer since April and have been in every episode filmed to date), and talked about my experience getting to stand-in for Diedrich and getting to meet him briefly on set in my previous article. My original news post is outdated now, but scroll down for my thoughts observing Diedrich on set.

I’m also giving a heads-up that I will be unable to post any news for the next few days. I’ve got a full weekend that includes a voice-over workshop with September Day Leach and Bob Carter (previously reported here), attending a cast/crew wrap party for Drop Dead Diva, and taking a day trip with my wife. Then after I get back I must finish transcribing my recent phone interview with cartoon voice acting legend Jim Cummings that will be published at Toon Zone soon.


An Open Letter to ‘Variety’ and ‘The Hollywood Reporter’

08.01.2009

Dear “Variety” and “The Hollywood Reporter” and Their Respective Reporters Michael Schneider and Nellie Andreeva,

First of all, I would like to thank you both for your coverage of the “Futurama” recasting. Both publications were among the first on the Internet to break the news to the public.

I also appreciate your follow-up coverage on Friday, July 31st, when it was announced and confirmed that all five of the show’s principal cast members had closed deals with 20th Century Fox.

However, both of your original articles (first published July 17, 2009) contained assumptions, inaccuracies and exaggerations of the salaries the “Futurama” voice cast members were actually requesting. This projected an unfair and negative image on the “Futurama” actors.

Furthermore, both publications (Variety and The Hollywood Reporter) have since edited the original articles to downplay prior misstatements, without offering any printed retraction for the reporters’ errors.

The original version of Variety reporter Michael Schneider’s article (first published Friday, July 17, 2009, 12:34 pm PT — Link: ‘Futurama’ without original voices?) read thusly:

It’s believed that the “Futurama” cast members were asking for around $75,000 per episode; it was not clear what 20th was offering. Calls to the voice stars’ reps were not immediately returned.

The statement was afterwards edited to read:

“…salary offers came in well below what the thesps were asking — believed to be around $75,000 per episode. (It was not clear what 20th was offering. Calls to the voice stars’ reps were not immediately returned.)” [Emphasis mine.]

This statement was publicly proven false by a statement made by a “Futurama” cast member, and also confirmed as being untrue by sources close to the cast as well.

Within the same hour Variety‘s article was published, The Hollywood Reporter‘s Nellie Andreeva originally made the following statement in her article (first published Friday, July 17, 2009, 3:11 pm ET — Link: ‘Futurama’ cast in limbo):

20th declined further comment but sources indicated that the voice actors had been seeking at least a tenfold increase of what they made when the animated series ran on Fox from 1999-2003. [Emphasis mine.]

And as was the case with Variety, THR‘s article was also edited after it was published. It currently reads:

The cast of “Futurama,” which ran on Fox from 1999-2002, are said to have been offered modest pay increases but have insisted for bumps of several times what they used to make. [Emphasis mine.]

THR‘s follow-up article (published Friday, July 31, 2009, 6:40 pm ET — Link: Back to Futurama: Voice cast closes deal), also written by reporter Nellie Andreeva, includes the following statement:

Financial terms of the agreements were not released but it is understood that both sides have made compromises to bridge the initial salary gap, in which the actors were said to have asked for several times what the studio was offering. [Emphasis mine.]

Andreeva went from saying a “tenfold increase” to “several times,” which appears as an attempt to remove blame for her earlier misstatement.

In the most recent article from Variety (published Friday, July 31, 2009, 3:26 pm PT — Link: ‘Futurama’ cast returning for reboot), also reported by Michael Schneider, the assumption made in the previous article has been downplayed, but does at least correct the prior error:

It was believed that the “Futurama” cast were asking for around $75,000 per episode, although the actors have said their request was actually much lower than that. It was not clear what 20th was offering.

And while Schneider did state in his original article that “calls to the voice stars’ reps were not immediately returned,” that does not excuse his misrepresentation of the cast by publishing an unconfirmed and exaggerated amount.

Now, if the figures of “$75,000 per episode” and a “tenfold increase” were what both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter were told by 20th Century Fox representatives, that makes this an entirely different matter. If that’s the case, 20th Century Fox should have been cited as the source, rather than reporting it vaguely that it was “believed” or “was said” to be what the cast was asking for. That would’ve removed both publications from fault.

But the fact remains that both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter are responsible for publishing statements which have since been proven to be false, inaccurate and unfair assumptions. Furthermore, both reporters have attempted to gloss over the aforementioned errors by covertly having the articles edited.

And most importantly, both publications misrepresented the cast and portrayed a very negative image of them to the public by implying that the actors were asking far and above what the studio was offering, when in reality that was simply not true. It’s also obvious from the feedback comments on both Variety.com and HollywoodReporter.com that the statements made regarding the salaries were indeed misleading to the public.

Both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter owe their readers — as well as “Futurama” fans and the cast of “Futurama” — a public retraction for the published errors, rather than trying to quietly augment previous statements.

It was unfair and unnecessary to misrepresent the cast in such a way, and unprofessional to change your prior articles without issuing a retraction.

I would like to request that both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter issue a public retraction for inaccurate and misleading statements about the cast. And while it would likely be ignored to request a public apology to the cast for making them look bad, I feel it’s a fair request that would be most appreciated.

Sincerely,

Craig Crumpton
Publisher: Voice Actors in the News
https://voiceactors.wordpress.com/

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Now to address my fellow Futurama fans.

I have already contacted some individuals concerning this open letter campaign, which according to replies I have received should be seeing some fan forum buzz within the next 24 hours.

Any fans reading this are more than welcome to join in this campaign and have my permission in advance to use my letter as a template for the cited sources. But if you decide to contact Variety and The Hollywood Reporter directly I must insist that you please not copy/paste my entire letter verbatim. Please use your own thoughts and opinions, not mine.

You can send feedback to both publications via the contact pages on Variety.com and HollywoodReporter.com.

Previous report: 7.17.2009 — Futurama Recasting Full Coverage — It’s Over! Futurama Cast FTW!

[This article was edited/updated on 8.05.2009 in order to protect my sources.]