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Modern Family is one of the most successful television shows on the air right now, having won a slew of awards and bringing individual stars like Sofia Vergara into the Hollywood spotlight. The future of the show, however, is now in question, as the stars and 20th Century Fox cannot come to an agreement on – what else – salaries.
The cast members of the show – Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jessi Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sofia Vergara, and Ed O’Neil – have been unable to come to new contract agreement with Fox, so they have taken the network to the Los Angeles Superior Court. The cast is being represented by litigator Jeff McFarland.
The mentioned cast members are requested to have their contacts voided, claiming the contracts violate the California labor code that states personal service contracts lasting more than seven years cannot be enforced. They want the contract renegotiated in order to increase salary, which is actually quite common between the 3rd and 4th seasons of hit television shows. Usually by that point, it’s obvious if the show is doing well and will continue to do well for several more seasons. This realization allows the cast to start demanding more money.
The most recent salary offer rejected by the cast consisted of $150,000 per person per episode. For comparison, the leading cast minus O’Neill (who is paid more than the others in a separate contract) reportedly made $65,000 per episode in the last season. O’Neill made $105,000 per episode.
Modern Family, a mockumentary that follows three very different families, has already won an Emmy Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy. Stonestreet, Burrell, and Bowen have each won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor/Actress in a Comedy Series. Vergara was also just named by Forbes the highest-earning actress in television, earning $19 million in the past year, due to a combination of her Modern Family salary and her Kmart clothing line and various endorsements for major companies like Cover Girl, Diet Pepsi, and State Farm.
The most recently rejected contract offer would have paid each cast member $150,000 per episode plus a $50,000 per episode bonus for season four; $200,000 per episode for season five; $225,000 for season 6; and up to $325,000 for an anticipated season nine. It has been reported that the cast is asking for more than double this offer if the show makes it to seasons eight and nine.
Thus far, the table reading for season four, which was scheduled for July 25, has been delayed until the contract negotiations are settled.