January 22, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

PROJECT Futurama, Groening’s animated follow-up to The Simpsons, debuting this spring.
THE DETAILS Follows the Year 3000 misadventures of everyman Fry, robot Bender, and one-eyed femme Leela (voiced by former Married…With Children mom Katey Sagal).
AT STAKE Nine years after Homer and Bart made animation safe for adults, Groening, 44, must now prove he isn’t a one-hit wonder.
THE BUZZ Because Futurama took more than three years to make, its spring bow will come shortly after two other Fox animated debuts (Family Guy and Eddie Murphy’s The PJs). But Groening’s signature quirks, including aliens who get around via pneumatic tubes (cars are so 20th century) and religion-minded robots who attend the Church of Robotology, will distinguish Futurama from the ‘toon pack. ”If The Simpsons is a celebration of the American family at its wildest,” says Groening, ”this celebrates the future at its wildest.”
DOES HOMER KNOW? ”Katey Sagal’s character looks very much like Katey if she were a beautiful Cyclops,” says Groening. ”She’s actually quite sexy. But you have to understand, I think Marge Simpson is hot.” D’oh!

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