Futurama: Voice Actors Support John DiMaggio As ‘#Bendergate’ Trends On Social Media
Following the news that Futurama would be returning on Hulu, voice actors tweeted in support of Bender actor John DiMaggio, who is not currently slated to return for the revival due to a reported pay dispute.
How Hulu Revived Futurama & Subsequently Killed Off Bender
Hulu announced that they’ll be bringing back Futurama, resurrecting the animated show from the dead for a third time. With it, most of the original cast will be returning, save for one shiny, cigar-smoking, beer swilling metal robot: Bender! Although, I gotta walk that statement back, because Bender WILL be returning in the Hulu revival. The original voice actor, John DiMaggio, will not. And his reasoning for not returning is a mixed bag of industry exploitation of artists that’s become far too corporate in recent years. This, of course, according to the Bender OG himself, John DiMaggio.
From the statements online, according to Deadline, it seems it all boiled down to the proposed offer given to John wasn’t, in his words, competitive enough based on the success and name recognition of the original series. Mind you, his offer was in line with that given to both Billy West and Katey Sagal, the voices of Fry and Leela, according to Deadline. Ultimately, John just wanted more money, and he was willing to hold out for a bigger bag. Hulu decided to call his bluff and moved full steam ahead with the revival and potentially recasting the role of Bender.
But is this the right move for Hulu to make? What kind of fallout will they receive publicly from those in the industry? And will fans accept this revival of #Futurama WITHOUT the original voice actor of Bender, John DiMaggio? Hulu may have just announced something that a lot of fans are hyped about based purely on nostalgia towards the original series, but they may have also shot themselves in the foot. Let’s break it down.
What Hulu is doing, bringing us all back to the future, isn’t anything new. In 2009, Comedy Central brought back the once canceled animated show for a 26 episode run which began airing in 2010 and 2011, which then led to a seventh season in 2012 and 2013. The thing they did right that time was that they secured the original cast. Now, a near decade since the 7th season, Hulu is making plans on bringing the show back, which has only grown in syndication popularity over the years, with many of the stars of the show growing in popularity and demand. John DiMaggio, in particular, has since gone on to voice characters in shows like Rick and Morty, Final Space, Amphibia, and Disenchantment (another show by creator Matt Groening).
Needless to say, the man is in no short supply of voice acting work. He gets it. So when he feels an animated series built on such a strong foundation of nostalgia amongst fans is set to make a comeback, it only makes sense for someone like him to feel there’s potential for a strong payday in it for him and his fellow voice actors. I mean, you don’t reboot a cartoon that has seen millions of dollars in sales based on merchandise and NOT expect to make hand over fist in subscriptions to your streaming service, as well as potential new merch sales. This will increase the interest in a franchise that’s laid dormant for about a decade, which will lead to new memes, new conversations online among fans. Its renewed interest, which means there should be ample interest in discussing deals and making sure to secure ALL of the original cast members. Because that’s also how you secure a successful run and successful comeback. #Bendergate
But Hulu decided to go the opposite direction. There’s plans to recast the voice of Bender. There was a casting call that went out while they were supposedly negotiating with DiMaggio. Comedian James Adomian tweeted out, “Everyone in the industry saw the audition notice go out two weeks ago for Bender, asking for a voice match for John DiMaggio. Seeing it, I said out loud “Shove it!” in my best Bender voice, which will always just be a fanboy cosplay of John DiMaggio.”
Love James Adomian, he’s one of my favorite impressionists and comedians. I’m right there with him – I can do a pretty good Bender impression, but it’ll always just be vocal cosplay. The voice of Bender is John DiMaggio’s creation, and the fact that they think you can just get someone to voice match him and say the lines is a sign of disrespect to the craft of voice acting. It’s not just reciting lines, it’s about imbuing your personality with the true essence of that character, so that it actually feels like something that character would say. THIS is how that character would react in that situation. With them wanting to replace DiMaggio, it goes to show just how corporate the entire situation is and how much Hulu doesn’t care about the actual craft of voice acting.
John DiMaggio (Futurama Bender VA) didn’t deserve this…
I am not happy with how Hulu has handled the continuation with Futurama epically with the voice actors such as John Dimaggio.
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“Futurama” cast FULL live table read of “Proposition Infinity” episode
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Full table read of “Futurama” episode 6ACV04 “Proposition Infinity” at the release party for the “Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow” mobile game, with cast members Billy West (Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Zoidberg), John DiMaggio (Bender), Maurice LaMarche (Kif), Lauren Tom (Amy), Phil Lamarr (Hermes), and Tress MacNeille (substituting for Katey Sagal as Leela). Producer David X. Cohen narrates while comedian Chris Hardwick hosts.
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