The situation at hit ABC sitcom “Modern Family” has gone from bad to worse, with word surfacing that several top cast members are taking their contract complaints to court, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Modern Family” stars Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara reportedly filed a lawsuit Tuesday against show producer 20th Century Fox Television in Los Angeles Superior Court in an effort to void their contracts.
THR reports: “The legal theory, according to sources who have seen the lawsuit, is that their deals violate California’s ‘7 Year Rule,’ which prohibits personal services contracts for longer than 7 years. This tactic is a common one for actors who seek to void contracts during renegotiations for increased compensation.”
Production on season four of the show — one of the highest-rated comedies on TV — was supposed to start yesterday with a table read, which was canceled, as previously reported.
The cast has reportedly hired litigator Jeff McFarland to push forward with the case.
Cast member Ed O’Neill, who makes more money than his co-stars, has been staying out of it, but THR reports that O’Neill has decided to join with his castmates in the lawsuit.
The report notes: “O’Neill has his own salary beef with 20th TV but he is paid on a different track and was thus not involved in the original plans to sue. Yet O’Neill is said to want to join the suit out of solidarity with his cast, and once he is officially signed as a client by litigator McFarland, the suit will be amended to add O’Neill, according to sources.”
The main cast members have current contracts through season seven, but the report notes that renegotiations are par for the course between seasons three and four, “when casts of hit shows typically get bigger paychecks in exchange for agreeing to continue with the show beyond the seventh season.”
The report adds: “Sources tell THR the five cast members are being offered salary increases as follows: $150,000 per episode plus a $50,000 per episode bonus for season 4; $200,000 per episode for season 5; $225,000 for season 6; and up to $325,000 for an anticipated season 9. The cast is asking for much more, including more than double the offered salary if the show goes 8 or 9 seasons, as expected.”