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Emmy Award winning sitcom “Modern Family” is in trouble. Six of the eleven cast members (all of the adults) have filed a lawsuit against ABC to get high salaries.
“Modern Family” won a Golden Globe in January and has been nominated for 14 Emmys this year, the most for any sitcom. The past two years has seen “Modern Family” take home the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. Three of the six actors have won Emmys for their work on the show including Ty Burrell (Phil Dunphy), Julie Bowen (Claire Dunphy), and Eric Stonestreet (Cameron Tucker). The other actors involved in the law suit are Sofia Vergara (Gloria Delgado-Pritchett) and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Mitchell Pritchett).
Ed O’Neill (Jay Pritchett) was originally not a part of the law suit because his contract was much better than the rest of the cast from his work on “Married…With Children” according to the BBC. However, according to the Huffington Post he has joined the lawsuit as an “act of solidarity” while he is also trying to sort out his own contract dispute.
The actors have filed the law suit in which they want a judge to rule their contracts void because the contracts are preventing them from getting other work and keep their salary relatively low. Additionally, the contracts last from February 2009 to June 2016 which may technically violate a California law stating that any contract over personal services can last no more than seven years.
Vergara, Stonestreet, Burrell, Bowen, and Ferguson all get paid around $60,000 to $65,000 an episode whereas O’Neill gets around $105,000; their pay raises are capped at a four or five percent increase per season. The actors are also asked to participate in unpaid publicity work. Vergara is actually the highest paid Hispanic actress in Hollywood according to the Huffington Post.
Now the cast wants $200,000 per episode of Season 4. ABC and 20th Century Fox tried to make a deal with the five actors (excluding O’Neill) in which they would get paid $150,000 per episode with $50,000 bonuses. Each season the cast would receive an increase in the amount paid per episode to $200,000 for Season 5, $225,000 for Season 6 until it reached $325,000 for Season 9. However, the cast has turned down this proposal and officially filed the law suit instead. Seasons 8 and 9 have not officially been contracted, although 20th Century Fox and ABC have already admitted that they would like to contract the actors at least up to that number of seasons.
The papers filed with the court state: “Since its debut on ABC in the fall of 2009, Modern Family has been one of the most successful shows on television. Modern Family has been a breakout critical and financial success. That success, however, has been built upon a collection of illegal contracts.” Additionally, ABC made $160 million just off of the advertising revenue for Season 3 alone.
The actors did not show up to the first day for Season 4 on July 24 for the script reading. The script reading was then cancelled and the future of the season is uncertain.
Image Courtesy of Loren Javier