Being Overprepared Is What Really Landed Futurama’s Deal With Fox

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Written By Sedoso Feb

Naturally, when Cohen caught wind that his boss — the man at the top of the pyramid, no less — was interested in making a sci-fi series, Cohen’s ears perked up. 

“I was a writer at ‘The Simpsons’ for five years, and four years into that, rumors started going around that Matt Groening was working on this secret science-fiction project. I was very interested, of course, being the SF/science nerd on the ‘Simpsons’ writing staff. Matt came to me and asked if I wanted to collaborate with him, and we started talking in our spare time, because we were both still working on ‘The Simpsons,’ on weekends and evenings about what we might do in ‘Futurama.'”

This was a momentous occasion, as Groening hadn’t created a show since “The Simpsons,” and those were characters he had been working with since their debut on “The Tracey Ullman Show” in 1987. A decade hence, it was time to make something with robots and spaceships. Both Cohen and Groening, however, were deep-cut sci-fi nerds, and their bonding took, by Cohen’s admission, way too much time. The worldbuilding “Futurama” took up massive cognitive space, and when it came time to pitch, Cohen and Groening overwhelmed the executives. Cohen said: 

“A lot of it was just, ‘What books do we like? What movies do we like?’ This went on for a year, which was too much time in retrospect; when we finally went in to FOX Network to sell the show, we had too much stuff and the meeting went on for about two hours. I think they finally said, ‘All right, that’s enough! We’ll take the show if you just shut up.’ It ended up being a learning experience.”

Lesson learned.

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