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Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family Cast Sue Over Contracts

Modern Family is ABC‘s Friends—a breakout hit the network has been able to leverage its entire roster around. And now the show’s stars—like Aniston, Cox, et al, before them—are banding together to get themselves a better deal.

Except this time, the actors are asking a judge to declare their contracts illegal under California law.

Out actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson joined Sofia Vergara, Eric Stonestreet, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell and Ed O’Neill in petitioning the court to void their contracts with 20th Century Fox Television, which they say violate a statute prohibiting personal-service contracts from lasting for more than seven years.

The lawsuit states the contracts bind the actors to the multi-Emmy-winning series exclusively from February 2009 to June 30, 2016. “Modern Family has been a breakout critical and financial success,” reads the complaint. “That success, however, has been built upon a collection of illegal contracts.”

Ferguson and the gang are signed up through Season 7, but ABC and 20th Century Fox want to get them locked in for Seasons 8 and 9.

The cast reportedly shot down a deal for $150,000 an episode, with a $50,000 bonus per episode for Season 4. Also at issue are the actors’ raises:. Vergara maxes out at a 5% salary increase for each new season, while the others hit the ceiling at 4%.

Wow, really?

According to Deadline, a planned Season 4 table read was canceled yesterday because of the contract dispute. Modern Family is certainly one of the better scripted shows on network TV today, and one of the few regular (if not wholly realistic) depictions of gay families on the small screen. Let’s hope this all gets resolved before things get too ugly.

 

By:           Dan Avery
On:           Jul 25, 2012
Tagged: , , , ,

  • 18 Comments
    • Daez
      Daez

      At a time when many Americans have not seen a raise in the past 5 years. This really endears them to these greedy douche bags. Do they not understand that TV networks are currently hemorrhaging funds and in most cases can not afford the shows they currently produce as it is?

      Jul 25, 2012 at 8:26 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      Maybe the show could save money and they could fire the guy who plays Cam and have Mitchell date somebody whose only acting talent isn’t a continual angry hissy fit.

      Jul 25, 2012 at 8:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nat
      Nat

      @Daez:

      If the contracts were voided, and if that were the case, then ABC could simply cancel the show and replace it with something else. But the reality is that the show has become increasingly lucrative, and some of the people responsible for that want to take advantage.

      You don’t take what someone gives you when you know you’re worth more than what’s being offered.

      Jul 25, 2012 at 8:48 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Appleberry
      Appleberry

      Even though I enjoy the show, I still call bullshit. These people all had agents and lawyers who scoured their contracts for anything that would hurt their clients—but it’s only after the show’s success that suddenly they claim their contracts are “illegal”? One has to wonder: If the show had bombed, would these same actors be claiming their contracts were illegal? No, they would have taken the money and run. Just like with the “Friends” fiasco, this is extortion, plain and simple.

      Jul 25, 2012 at 9:32 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • velocifero
      velocifero

      I remember when Modern Family was first introduced and it’s first publicity photo came out. The wing-nuts over at Pams House Blend went crazy calling the characters stereotypes and especially being harsh on Sofia Vergera who has been on Latin television for years. Showing just how knee-jerk Pam’s trans crowd is over there on just about any issue. (They never do research on anything.) The whole issue with Modern Family is that everyone is a stereotype on the show, but not in a mean way. They are stereotyping everyday over-reating to everyday situations. As for those calling this contract issue “bullshit” unless you live in LA (as I do) and work in the entertainment industry, these contracts are so involved and complicated that there could be any number of issues in them that an agent (who often isn’t a lawyer dumbasses) might miss. Also, actors are contracted not only to the network but the production company too, so it gets more involved. I have mixed feelings about actors being over paid. Certainly its insane what Hollywood pays for Tom Cruise or Will Smith. But doing a 24 episode series is extremely hardwork and the great actors, who are also willing to go do promotion and be kind to their fans, deserve every penny.

      Jul 25, 2012 at 10:20 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Callum
      Callum

      @Cam: I agree. Cam (Eric Stonestreet,IRL) is straight. He is a straight man portraying an Americanized stereo-typed Queen Elton John. Sean Hayes would be a good actor to join the “family” after Cam died from a over-weight induced heart attack while dancing to some Elton music.

      Jul 25, 2012 at 11:54 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kayo
      kayo

      @Daez: if I were them I would want a raise too. please, ABC makes 180$ million in revenue from that show alone.

      Jul 25, 2012 at 12:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Oh well
      Oh well

      The contracts seem to amount to slavery. I predict they will indeed be found invalid in a court of law.

      Jul 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dvlaries
      dvlaries

      I don’t blame them, but like with “Friends,” whose cast members upped themselves to 1.2 million each per episode in the final season, I think, in the long run in makes networks all the more skittish to deal with scripted programs, and just feed us more shitty reality and game shows.

      Once upon a time Roseanne held ABC’s feet to the fire to get her no-talent, then-husband his own show in the time slot after hers. And who do you see starting any bidding war to get a new Roseanne program on the air today…?

      So, ultimately, we’re the ones who pay with so little worthwhile stuff to watch.

      Jul 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Spike
      Spike

      @Daez: OH boo hoo. How fricking clueless are you? Fox Television Productions, a subsidiary of NewsCorp is hemorrhaging funds, really? Seriously? If the show was not profitable, it would be cancelled. A hit show makes millions of dollars in first run then millions more for years there after. The kids at FRIENDS did the same, Warner Brothers paid em, and where is Warner Brothers now? Doing quite well. Seems to me like your ignorance reflects the only douche bag present.

      Jul 25, 2012 at 2:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ken
      Ken

      Don’t care, hate the show!!! They can cancel this piece of crap for all I care. Haven’t liked it since the premiere and the gay couple appeared. Turned it off from there!!

      Jul 25, 2012 at 3:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jack
      jack

      I don’t like the show and so I stopped watching it. It portrays gay men as too fem.

      Jul 25, 2012 at 10:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kyle215
      Kyle215

      Extremely greedy on the part of the actors. $150k an episode with at least 20 episodes means they are raking in over $2 million a season for working about 6 or 7 months in total. Not bad. Not to mention their fame from MODERN FAMILY has given them opportunities in movies and commercials that they didn’t have before. The 3 years the show has been on has provided them all with enough money to live comfortably if they invested wisely. They are greedy and I won’t watch the show anymore.

      If I were the producer I would set an example and kill one of them off to let them know that they are expendable.

      Jul 25, 2012 at 11:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kyle215
      Kyle215

      Extremely greedy on the part of the actors. $150k an episode with at least 20 episodes means they are raking in over $2 million a season for working about 6 or 7 months in total. Not bad. Not to mention their fame from MODERN FAMILY has given them opportunities in movies and commercials that they didn’t have before. They also get residuals for reruns. The 3 years the show has been on has provided them all with enough money to live comfortably if they invested wisely. They are greedy and I won’t watch the show anymore.

      If I were the producer I would set an example and kill one of them off to let them know that they are expendable.

      Jul 25, 2012 at 11:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • David
      David

      I agree Cam it’s homophobia and a bad stereotype about gay men.

      Jul 26, 2012 at 12:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Lifer
      Lifer

      This show was really painful in the first couple of episodes, then it got into a really funny groove, & then, inexplicably it went into auto cruise control by the end of the 1st season. I couldn’t get interested in watching it after that. That being said, get as much fucking $ when you can while you can because big corp will never part with it’s $ freely.

      Jul 26, 2012 at 5:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • disgsuted gay american
      disgsuted gay american

      while I understand the success of the show is great – and WHy should the producers and higher ups make All the money….but seriously – when most people are just scraping by – by making 30-40-50k a yr……a YEAR,not a week………this just seems like BAD TIMING/and it comes off Greedy

      Jul 26, 2012 at 9:22 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Steve-O
      Steve-O

      I can’t believe the attitude…..other people are struggling financially and therefore one should be happy that they are getting paid whatever they are getting.

      If we all had this attitude everyone would be under paid. Other people’s salaries is other people’s business. If my performance is generating a sized ugly successful profit for my employer Im going to fight to make sure I’m compensated proportionally,not just ‘sufficiantly’ and let my employer pocket the extra product of my hard work. That’s not being greedy, that’s just business.

      Jul 26, 2012 at 2:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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