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Posted at 11:32 AM ET, 07/26/2012

Things fall apart with ‘Modern Family’ cast contract negotiations


Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sofia Vergara on “Modern Family” (Peter "Hopper" Stone - ABC)

[UPDATE: Although the contract negotiations have not been resolved, Tuesday’s canceled table read has been rescheduled for Thursday morning.

And as the two parties continue to try to settle the salary deals, ABC’s day at the press tour is looming on the horizon on Friday morning, when entertainment chief Paul Lee will speak to the press.]

ORIGINAL POST:

Work on the fourth season of ABC’s “Modern Family” has been delayed while producer 20th Century Fox TV is snarled in salary negotiations with several members of the cast — who filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the production company to void their current contracts.

A table read scheduled for Tuesday morning was scrapped when the studio was told that adult cast members in the ensemble comedy would not attend. Production on the fourth season is supposed to start Monday.

“Modern Family” is a hugely important franchise for ABC. Averaging 13 million viewers last season, the comedy is the network’s highest-rated scripted series. “Modern Family” ranked as No. 15 in total viewers for the 2011-12 TV season. And even more important for ABC, which sells the 18- to 49-year-old demographic to Madison Avenue, “Modern Family” was the fourth-highest overall show in that age bracket.

Hoping to get a bigger payday out of the lucrative franchise — which landed a syndication deal with USA Network to start in 2013 — several cast members (Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Sofia Vergara, Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson) have filed suit claiming that their contracts violate a California rule that personal service contracts cannot be longer than seven years, according to the Hollywood Reporter trade publication.

Ed O’Neill, who plays the patriarch on the show, originally was not attached to the lawsuit because he started out with a higher paycheck and was going through a separate negotiation, Hollywood Reporter said — but he joined his castmates “out of solidarity.”

A rep for 20th Century Fox TV said the company had no statement; ABC also declined to comment.

Presumably, this will be wrapped up by the time ABC programming chief Paul Lee is scheduled to speak to the press Friday morning at this tour.

By  |  11:32 AM ET, 07/26/2012

 
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