In an exclusive interview conducted this morning with CINESCAPE Editor in Chief Anthony C. Ferrante, co-creator and executive producer of FUTURAMA David X. Cohen said the show is not cancelled... exactly.
"We're in what is basically an unprecedented situation in that we have so many new episodes that haven't aired yet, literally enough episodes to run the rest of this year and all of next year at the snail's pace that they run the show at," Cohen told us. "So we're not cancelled in the sense that we're still on the air, we still expect to be on the air next year. We may even have a few more episodes than that than the number necessary to run this season and next season."
While that might sound hopeful, there is some truth to the rumors lately about the animators and writers of FUTURAMA looking for other work.
"We're still on the air," Cohen said. "I'm still incredibly busy working on the episodes that people haven't seen yet. The show gets better and better. There are a lot of great episodes that are still going to be on. Obviously, they are letting us go out of production which means we're going to lose all of our writers and probably all of our animators. In the event which is probably a long shot, but by no means zero chance that they do decide they do want more episodes down the line. A whole new team would have to be put together, which is a big task. It's obviously a big blow, but I hope people will remember the show is still on and the best episodes are yet to come. So stick with it, you will be rewarded."
That hope aside, Cohen, who developed FUTURAMA with SIMPSONS genius Matt Groening, acknowledged the dire situation.
"It's not good news. It doesn't bode well," he conceded. "It's the old 'on hiatus' thing. Once you're in that fabled hiatus you don't come out of it. Occasionally you do. For example, FAMILY GUY they put them out of production and they did order more and they did have to bring in an entirely new staff. They produced some this season and they put them off again. We're not the only show who has been through this kind of treatment."
So what can fans expect for the end of this, the fourth season, and when the show comes back next year?
"I have to work for a few months to finish the Season 4 episodes that are in production. We've only seen the ten of those 15 episodes so far," Cohen said. "There is still a lot of work after that point in terms of editing the shows, the length it needs to be for television and doing a little bit of punch-up writing so some of the writers have to come in periodically. Adding the sound effects and the music and mixing the whole thing. We still have plenty of work to do for the next several months."
That being said, Cohen tried to give the bottom line on the show many see as the funniest genre parody ever made.
"What it boils down to in the end, the people making the decisions they're not our biggest fans," Cohen said, laying bare underlying tensions between Fox executives and the show's creators. It's a situation that's been there since the beginning. "Our biggest fans are a little younger demographic than the executives in charge of our show and I think it's hard for them to put their full weight behind the show if it's not their favorite thing. Of course, they have enough to air this year and next year. In their mind, they probably feel it's a pretty safe bet, if they want more episodes, they'll just order them later. I don't think they necessarily have a full appreciation of how incredibly difficult it is to get a show like this back up and running."
But while Cohen tried to remain hopeful, a few of his final remarks took on the aspects of remembering something that's already gone.
"The one thing that makes it bearable, we're so proud of the show and everybody leaving I think ultimately will be left with the feeling that 'I am happy and lucky I got to be part of this show and how did a thing this weird and smart get on TV in the first place.'" Cohen said. "It's an anomaly. In the end, the remaining emotion will be pride we got to make this show. We have 72 episodes, that's enough to really give it a long life and I can see us all meeting again at a convention in 10 or 20 years. I think there is a whole universe there, especially when people see the last few episodes where we did delve in to some of the long held off secrets set up in the pilot. There's a lot of material there to keep a fan base active for a long time."
And as fan passion builds to save the show, as the rumors around the internet have shown in the last week, Cohen put in his recommendations on how to bring FUTURAMA back into production.
"So write those letters," Cohen asked. "Gail Berman, president of Fox Network. And Sandy Grushow, chairman of Fox Entertainment group. Physical letters are considered more effective than emails."
Finally, he added, "I hope we do come back, but I'm not keeping my fingers crossed personally. It's out of our hands. We all have to move on. If they do bring it back, I'll be really happy, it will be great but I'm not betting the farm on it."
The following is address information for the above-mentioned Fox executives:
President Gail Berman, Building 100 Room 4450, 10201 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035
Chairman Sandy Grushow, Building 100 Room 5110, 10201 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035