Wednesday, July 25, 2012
The Modern Family That Sues Together, Stays Together
By Amos Barshad
Back in March, it was reported that the cast of Modern Family was headed into some contentious contract renegotiations. While the actors were locked into a seven-year deal when the show kicked off, the success of Family has given them a window now, between the third and fourth seasons, to ask for more money per episode in exchange for allowing their contracts to be lengthened (it's a standard practice). But things have gotten ugly. The Hollywood Reporter writes that the cast — Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, and Sofia Vergara — are unhappy with the new terms they were offered, and are now suing ABC to void their original contracts. Originally Ed O'Neill, who was enjoying a higher salary from the get-go, wasn't part of the Modern Family Five, and was renegotiating his contract on his own. But now, out of solidarity (and also probably out of a desire not to be pelted with Bagel Bites at the craft services table by his bitter co-workers) O'Neill has joined up as well.
Says The Hollywood Reporter: "[T]he 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 … 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." And they're piling on the pressure already. According to EW, "a table read scheduled for 11:30 a.m. PT today was canceled an hour prior, when the production team was informed the actors would not be attending."
This whole thing is a bit unseemly, of course: Rich, famous people asking for more money. But ABC does make a tidy sum off Modern Family, and the people who make that possible should be correctly compensated. So we say: Get yours, litigious united cast of Modern Family. Get yours.