‘Modern Family’ ties tense amid TV cast salary row

Agence France-Presse
The cast does what the 'Friends' cast did before: band together, negotiate higher pay together

SOFIA VERGARA, the highest paid Hispanic actress in Hollywood, according to Forbes magazine. Image from Facebook

LOS ANGELES, United States of America – Five cast members of the hit TV comedy Modern Family filed a lawsuit to have their contracts declared void on Tuesday, July 24. This could help them renegotiate much better pay.

According to show business newspaper Variety, the actors did not show up Tuesday for the first readings of the 4th season.

“Since its debut on ABC in the fall of 2009, Modern Family has been one of the most successful shows on television,” the plaintiffs wrote in the complaint filed at a court in Los Angeles.

Modern Family has been a breakout critical and financial success. That success, however, has been built upon a collection of illegal contracts,” the complaint continues.

The only actor not included in the complaint is Ed O’Neill of Married with Children fame, who started off with a better contract as the only cast member already well-known to American audiences.

The 5 other adult actors — Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Fergusen, Eric Stonestreet and Colombian actress Sofia Vergara — say the contract they signed was illegal, because it violates a union rule that prohibits contracts for “personal services” that last longer than 7 years.

The actors each earn between US$60,000 to US$65,000 per episode, while O’Neill gets US$100,000, Variety has reported. During negotiations before shooting the 4th season, the studio offered them US$150,000 per episode, with increases in subsequent seasons.

But according to the Hollywood Reporter, the cast is asking for more, including more than US$300,000 an episode if the show goes past an 8th season.

“Modern Family,” an Emmy-award winning comedy about a dysfunctional family, features Stonestreet and Fergusen as a homosexual couple who adopt a Vietnamese daughter, and Burrell as the childish husband to Bowen’s obsessive stay-at-home wife and mother.

Vergara, the highest paid Hispanic actress in Hollywood according to Forbes magazine, plays the beautiful and much younger wife of O’Neill.

Representatives of the actors have not responded to requests for comment. – Agence France-Presse