Futurama will be back with its lead cast intact when the Matt Groening and David X. Cohen’s cult animated sci-fi comedy returns with new episodes on Hulu in 2023. Holdout John DiMaggio has closed a deal to reprise his signature voice role as foul-mouthed robot Bender and an assortment of other characters in the revival, which has a 20-episode order.
The news comes three weeks after the announcement that Futurama would possibly return without DiMaggio mobilized fans who took to social media to throw their support behind him, using #bendergate. DiMaggio referenced the hashtag in his note to fans two weeks ago and in his statement about his return to the show today.
While the official Futurama revival announcement by Hulu and 20th Television Animation last month indicated that the role of Bender would be recast, that never happened. A producer filled in and read the part during the first table read as the studio and DiMaggio remained hopeful that a resolution could be reached.
“I’M BACK, BABY! So damn grateful for the love and support of fans and colleagues alike during this whole time (especially my wife, Kate), and I cannot wait to get back to work with my Futurama family,” DiMaggio said. “#Bendergate is officially over, so put it on the back of a shelf behind Xmas decorations, or maybe in that kitchen drawer with all of the other crap you put in there like old unusable crazy glue, or maybe even put it in a jar you save farts in. Whatever floats your boat, I don’t care, you get the picture. I’M BACK, BABY! BITE MY SHINY METAL ASS!”
Futurama focuses on the life of Philip Fry (Billy West), a 25-year-old pizza delivery boy who accidentally freezes himself on December 31, 1999 and wakes up 1,000 years later with a fresh start at life and a “diverse” new group of friends including Leela (Katey Sagal), a tough but lovely one-eyed ship captain, and Bender (DiMaggio), a robot who possesses human characteristics and flaws.
“From the moment John DiMaggio auditioned last century, we knew we had our Bender,” Groening said. “So congrats to everyone at Futurama. We’re all back, baby!”
Cohen referenced Futurama‘s rollercoaster run as the series originally aired on Fox before being canceled, then it was picked up by Comedy Central and subsequently canceled.
“John DiMaggio may be a great robot, but he’s also a great human being. Not many people or machines can say that.” Cohen said. “For the fourth time, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thrill to be back with our entire original cast and the phenomenal animators of Rough Draft Studios!”
As Deadline reported last month, DiMaggio had initially received an offer in line with that for fellow leads West (Fry) and Sagal (Leela) who, after a back-and-forth, agreed to a deal while DiMaggio felt the proposal was not competitive based on the success and name recognition of the original series. He countered, after which the negotiations stalled and the revival was announced without him.
A week later, DiMaggio spoke out about his decision to hold out. “It’s about self-respect. And honestly, being tired of an industry that’s become far too corporate and takes advantage of artists’ time and talent,” he wrote on Twitter, adding, “Just to be clear, I don’t think that only I deserve to be paid more, I think the entire cast does.”
It is unclear whether DiMaggio’s return comes with a pay bump — I hear it was minimal at best — but both sides are happy with reaching the agreement, sources said.
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