'Modern Family' dispute: cast reaches deal, get major raises
The cast of "Modern Family" has reached a deal with ABC Entertainment over their contract dispute.
Earlier this week, cast members Sofia Vergara, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell filed a lawsuit against the Emmy-winning show's production company 20th Century Fox Television to void their contracts, claiming they are illegal under California law. Ed O'Neill, who plays the family patriarch, later joined their filing.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, during season 3, all stars except O'Neill earned about $65,000 per episode. The cast will receive a significant raise, earning about $170,000 or $175,000 an episode for the upcoming fourth 22-episode season. They will also receive a small portion of the comedy series' back-end profits.
In the new contracts, it is believed that the cast will earn around $350,000 per episode by the show's eighth season. With the salary increase, the cast added one year to their seven-season contracts and dropped the lawsuit.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday, July 24, claimed that the cast members' existing show contracts violate a California law that prohibits personal service contracts from extending more than seven years.
The actors also wanted a judge to rule the contracts illegal and void them because the contracts prohibit the actors from working outside the television series. The contracts binded the actors to work on the series from February 2009 to June 30, 2016.
In addition, the lawsuit claimed the contracts cap the raises the actors receive for each additional season of the show. For example, Vergara's pay raise per season is capped at five percent, while the rest of her co-stars have a maximum pay increase of four percent per year.
Ferguson, Stonestreet, Bowen and Burrell were also required to perform numerous unpaid publicity obligations.
Earlier in the week, 20th Century Fox Television offered new contracts that would have paid the actors $150,000 for every episode of season 4 as well as a $50,000 bonus. According to the industry magazine, the cast requested $200,000 per episode.
The salary negotiations delayed the start of filming, but the fourth season of the comedy series, the network's most successful sitcom, will begin on time. It is slated to premiere on September 26.
"It's no surprise, but I'm of course thrilled and I cannot wait to get on stage Monday morning and start making the show again," co-creator Steve Levi tan told The Hollywood Reporter. "It'll feel great, I'm sure everybody is going to be very relieved and I hope that it's the beginning of a great season. I feel really good about it. I'm very happy for my friends on the cast for their success, I really am."
"I'm thrilled," said co-creator Christopher Lloyd. "It was a distraction more than anything. And I think the cast feels the same way. It was never arduous. Now other people can go on with the numbers and we'll go on with the letters."
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actors were present at a table read for season 4 on Thursday.
Ed O'Neill was initially not a part of the lawsuit when it was filed on Tuesday because, as the industry paper reports, he was negotiating separately from his five co-stars as his salary track was different from theirs. The TV veteran will now receive a salary closer to that of his co-stars, but will receive more in back-end profits.
"Modern Family," which currently airs on ABC, won Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series the past two years. Burrell, Bowen and Stonestreet have won individual Emmys for their work on the show.
The show was recently nominated for 14 Emmy Awards, the most of any sitcom.
Earlier this month, Forbes named Sofia Vergara at the top of their list of highest-paid TV actress.
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