Uh, yeah. As these things usually turn out (particularly in animated television--the voice cast of The Simpsons faced this same showdown and eventually caved), the cast of Futurama is coming back at a much lower rate. Just like everyone else associated with the show. During a recession. When advertising revenues have been cut in half.
When faced with either getting a contract for 26 episodes (that will initially run on Comedy Central and might run on Fox--but highly doubtful) at a substantially lower fee, or not getting any money at all, the cast decided to take the money and run. So did the producers, animators, writers...
Of course, the cast said they weren't asking for $75,000 per episode--and perhaps they weren't--but, I guarantee their agents were.
Having the show back is great for television, great for Comedy Central, great for viewers, great for everyone involved. It's a quality animated program with a loyal fan base, and it's production values are off the chart for a network that small.
It sucks to know you are disposable, but that's exactly what the cast was facing. In fact, that's what a lot of talented folks who were getting big pay checks only a year ago are now facing in this economy.
The reality is, even at a fee that is half of what they were asking, for 26 episodes, they're still going to gross $910,000 for the season. Even if their fee is $20,000, they're making $520,000. To talk into a microphone for 2-3 hours a week.
I know screenwriters who were getting a million dollars a script a year ago who have taken jobs for $150,000, just to get their project off the ground. No one's happy about that. But, when the economy is humming, the studios get the screws put to them, and this is just as much about them getting some value as it is about them returning the favor.
TV in particular is challenged. While fim revenues have generally stayed the same, television relies on a revenue stream determined by advertisers, not viewers. And, it is public knowledge that those revenues unfortunately continue to dwindle.
In this economy, I see this as a win-win for everyone. And, if Futurama has wild success on Comedy Central, this cast will make more money.
One thing about Hollywood--they worship--and very often reward success.