Modern Family Update: Tough Contract Talks Prompt Cancellation of First Table Read, Lawsuit

Modern Family‘s first Season 4 table read, scheduled for today, was cancelled at the last minute for fear that contentious contract talks would keep several cast members from showing, sources confirm to TVLine.

RELATEDModern Family Exclusive: Baby ‘Fallout,’ Claire’s Jealousy, Cam’s New [Spoiler] and More!

Multiple cast members of the ABC comedy are re-negotiating their salaries with the show’s production company, 20th Century Fox TV, and reports that the talks aren’t going smoothly. Modern’s adult stars – including Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet – allegedly have pooled their negotiation powers to achieve a desired salary increase, similar to what the Friends cast successfully did prior to Season 3 of that sitcom. And all of the adults — save Ed O’Neill — filed suit Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court to void their contracts, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Today’s gathering, a regular occurrence at which the cast would have run through an upcoming episode’s script for the first time, would have been difficult to make happen without those adult cast members in attendance.

RELATED | Emmy Nominations 2012: American Horror Story, Mad Men and Modern Family Lead the Pack

The change in schedule is making news because although contract negotiations are often difficult, they rarely interfere with a show’s production. (As Deadline points out, Everybody Loves Raymond and Malcolm in the Middle are notable exceptions.)

The Emmy-winning Family racked up 14 new nominations earlier this week, including its third for Outstanding Comedy Series.

UPDATE: The first Season 4 table read has been rescheduled for Thursday, July 26.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. jen says:

    of course they want more money the all got nominated for an Emmy. the show wasn’t that funny last year

    • Joseph says:

      If reports are correct ,
      The adult cast with the exception of Ed O’Neil make about $65k per episode, with Ed making $104,000.00.
      With Modern Family making $164 Million for ABC in 2011, it is easy to see why the balance of the case would want at least $100k+ per episode.

      • DL says:

        Thanks for providing actual figures. With salaries like that it’s no surprise they want more. Granted, to your average person they’re still making plenty, but compared to other actors on hit shows it isn’t very much.

      • Josh says:

        I heard they offered then $100,000 to $325,000 dollars if the show on until season 8-9. Considering how much the show made WITHOUT syndication, that’s incredibly unfair to ask. The show will be FRIENDS and Seinfeld when it hits syndication. ABC will make NBC Must See Tv Money on the show. They’re all Emmy nominated. They’re the #1 comedy on TV. If the show is still successful enough to be on in 4 to 5 years(which would mean it’s going onto its’ 200th episode) they deserve to make plenty of money.

    • Miffy says:

      I would write a story in which the entire family is in a fiery car crash en route the airport (for another family vacation). Everyone needs plastic surgery and voila, when they recover, they have new faces! Then, they can go out and hire new actors. Tori Spelling, for example, could play Claire, and I’m sure she’d be glad for the work.

  2. paychck2paychck says:

    Wow. Makes me like them a little less. Or a lot less? Hmmm…

    • BabyFirefly says:

      I think it’s fair for them to ask for a larger piece of the pie they helped bake. Stupid metaphor aside, the show is huge in a large part due to the actors. I bet the head honchos get plenty of money, and they didn’t have to wait for contracts to end before getting more money.

      • paychck2paychck says:

        The show would be nothing without the writers, actually. There are many great actors who know how to read. The deilvery is only as good as what’s written on the page. Are the writer’s the ones holding up production?
        And heaven forbid the actor be gratified by their Emmy noms. Critical acclaim clearly isn’t worth as much as it used to be…

        • DL says:

          As both an actor and a writer, no, the delivery is not only as good as what’s on the page. A great actor can make a poor script seem better than it is, and the reverse is also true. When you’re lucky enough to have both a great script and great actors, both the performances and the words soar. Acting is about.making choices. You can’t make choices in a vacuum (i.e. without a script), but also, as a writer, you simply cannot anticipate the wide and varied choices an actor will make based on your script. With strong actors, those choices often end up exceeding your expectations. Making good television is a collaborative process, and both elements are of equal importance!

          • paychck2paychck says:

            I agree to a certain extent – except that not even the most acclaimed of actors (which used to be reward enough) can save a bad script. The movie or show will suffer and be remembered not for the good actor, but instead for the bad script. (Or bad editing/direction/etc. whatever the case may be).
            I DO agree it’s a collaborative process, which has to mean ALL parts of the process working together to make the art happen. Not one part all but saying “my part is more important that your part, so I should get more money and hold up production”.

          • Lauren says:

            It may be a collaboration, but who wants to bet the writers don’t get near to 65k an episode?
            Modern Family has always been a show I watch because it’s on but I do not get the hype. The actors should be grateful, not acting like children. God forbid they can’t afford a mansion with two pools or something.

          • one pool mansion says:

            Thank you Lauren for the most tired crotchety “why those ungrateful actors” line that gets repeated all the freaking time.
            I’m sure if you were working at a job that everyone told you you were great at and the company you were working for was making gobs and gobs of money you’d be all “i don’t need raise” ” i don’t need to make what other people in this field of work make when they’re successful”

            But mostly Lauren thank you for sticking up for the suits at ABC so they can hold on to all the gobs of money they’re making so they can afford their mansions with tennis courts and multiple pools.

        • kyle says:

          not today, but writers did hold up production for a about 100 days during a little thing known as the writers strike…

          • laylagalise says:

            But not for “Modern Family” … unless there was a writers’ strike in the last few years I didn’t hear about.

  3. Next season, the focus will shift to a new family, lol.

  4. Melly says:

    Its hard to be sympathetic to the cast. I heard they were even suing. This strikes me as ungrateful and very out of touch. They signed contracts and its one thing to negotiate for a raise in good faith but to hold the show hostage like this? I actually hope the production company does not cave.

    • Mel says:

      I agree. I’m all for actors getting fair salaries, but this borders on greedy. And it’s not only the studio and network they are putting on hold, but the rest of the cast and the crew,whose jobs are now in limbo.

    • jenna says:

      I agree, its hard to feel sympathetic when they are going so far as to halting production. Considering how many people are employed by a television show it seems very selfish and leaves a bad taste in my mouth regarding the show

      • tripoli says:

        Well said. I imagine for the lower paid people who help with the show in a variety of ways, it’s pretty frustrating.

  5. Jake says:

    hmm i hope the Emmy’s arent starting to get to their heads?

    • paychck2paychck says:

      Right? Cause critical recognition isn’t enough for actors/artists anymore!!

      And it wasn’t at all excessive that they took out nearly the entire supporting actor comedy series noms when – you’re right – it wasn’t as funny.

      • Disbelieving says:

        So, if you had a job that would last about 8 years or so and, during that time, the company you worked for became unbelievably rich in large part because of you and those you worked with, you wouldn’t seek to get a raise? You would just be satisfied with critical recognition. Somehow, I don’t believe that if you were in that situation it would be true.

  6. paychck2paychck says:

    The “you’re right” in that reply was to the first comment saying ‘it wasn’t as funny last year.’

  7. rainyblood says:

    I mean are you serious? They already get paid so much. How about helping the people on the show who get a lot less paid like Hair/Make-Up & Camera People or Writers to get a pay bump.

  8. wrstlgirl says:

    Hollywood greed.

  9. BrianR says:

    I guess signing a contract doesn’t mean the same thing in Hollywood as it does in the real world. If you don’t like the original deal then just quit and see if anyone else will hire you.

  10. Laura says:

    I agree with the commentors that point out the cast should get money because they are making the studio and the network a lot of money. They should be rewarded for their talents. Yes they make a lot of money but so do the studio and the executives.

    • paychck2paychck says:

      You mean the single comment in favor of paying them more?
      “They should be rewarded for their talents.” – When did Emmy’s and Critics praise stop being rewarding? And when did signing a contract become un-binding? I agree with the comments that talk about the focus shifting to a new family next season, and the one that points out breaking a contract usually results in someone else being hired to do the same thing…

      • Laura says:

        As someone else said..we don’t even know what the figures are. But labeling someone as greedy for wanting more money at their job without all the details is a bit unfair.

        • paychck2paychck says:

          Well they are allegedly asking for $200,000 per episode – currently making just under $100,000 now – so, should we cry for them?

          • 65k an episode is not “just under” 100k. It’s closer to half lol. And the network can afford to pay them 200k an episode when it is raking in 164 million in revenue a season. Plus they have all that syndication money to look forward to as well. I don’t feel bad for the network at all.

          • Emily says:

            No one is asking you to cry for them. Everyone wants to get paid what they’re worth. Just because they’re not living paycheck to paycheck like you or I doesn’t mean they’re being unreasonable to ask for more. The fact that I make more money than someone on minimum wage isn’t going to stop me from asking for more if I feel that I’m becoming more valuable in the company. If they are irreplaceable, they have negotiating power. If they aren’t, they don’t. Anyway, didn’t Friends make $1M per episode in the end? $65K is chump change compared to that. You’re all just hating on actors because they’re in the public eye. What about network execs? Jeez, it isn’t like they’re Bernie Madoff.

  11. James R. says:

    They have every right to make as much money as they can.

    • paychck2paychck says:

      You’re right. And in putting their right for greed first, let’s put everyone else’s jobs on hold while they sue to break a contract they legally agreed to.

      • DL says:

        If they’re suing, clearly they feel there are legal (and probably moral) grounds as to why the contract should be invalidated. Chalking all this up to “greed” is overly simplistic, particularly since we don’t have all the facts. And I guarantee there’s more than enough “greed” on the part of the studio and the executives as well.

  12. paychck2paychck says:

    “If reports are correct ,
    The adult cast with the exception of Ed O’Neil make about $65k per episode, with Ed making $104,000.00.
    With Modern Family making $164 Million for ABC in 2011, it is easy to see why the balance of the case would want at least $100k+ per episode.

    Comment by Joseph – July 24, 2012 12:47 PM PDT Reply To This Post”

    But to sue the studio to make null a contract that they agreed to? And to put everyone else’s jobs (and paychecks??) on hold? Ask them why they started acting and I’ll bet few to none of them will say it was for the money. Until now.

    • Good lord stop harping on them “breaking a contract.” Contracts are renegotiated all the time. They o it in sports, the private sector, and yes, even TV. Especially when an actor signs on to a show and that show ends up making far more money than anyone could have anticipated. They have a right to be compensated accordingly when they are the key to producing an Emmy winning program. I guess you would rather a couple of studio execs line their pockets instead? They probably need a new G5. The one they have now is a couple years old anyway. They aren’t hurting any hair and makeup people like you are ranting about either. They cancelled a table read, not the production of an episode.

      • Stacey says:

        They are breaking their contract, by suing. And not showing up to work. Which was to commence today. Negotiating is fine. And they are in the right. But by trying to null their contracts in court; they are basically holding the show hostage and not showing up to work. Therefore breaking their contract. They should have showed up to work, while negotiating. They deserve raises, but show up to work. It worked for Big Bang Theory and other shows in the press.

        • Stacey says:

          I meant, it’s worked in the past with other shows.

        • You don’t know that they are the ones breaking the contract. There is most likely a renegotiation clause in there and for all you know the studio is not renegotiating in good faith. That’s why we have civil courts.

          • Jules says:

            Thank you Chuck Finley (AJ) for being the only reasonable person commenting here. Television is a business and the actors themselves are part of that business. They have every right to renegotiate their contracts, as does everyone who is a party to any contract. When they signed the contract, they had no ideahow well the show would be doing 3years in, that’s why renegotiation clauses exist, because no one can predict the future and contract law allows for you to try and get a better deal if people are making money off of something you have a hand in. It’s not illegal, and it’s every bit as fair as every other actor on television, the Friends cast included, that has done this in the past. In fact, the friends cast essentially held the last season of the show hostage the same way… If they weren’t given $1 mil per episode, they were all walking away and there wouldn’t have been another season. It happens all of the time.

  13. Boiler says:

    This is the reason we have to put up with more reality crap although I don’t know how they pay Mariah, Britney, Demi, etc!! These type of demands make these shows too expensive

  14. B badger says:

    That lilly is demanding millions.

  15. Kevin says:

    Most Contracts for the main actors in a television show come with salary re-negotiations after a certain amount of time. I’m assuming that since this is currently an issue it is contractually the time to re-negotiate salaries. Them suing could very well be a result of the studio refusing to appropriately raise their salaries.
    Without all the facts I think it’s unfair to jump to conclusions, the fact that that they are all together as one team instead of fighting separately makes me think they aren’t being greedy and out for themselves and are looking for equal pay.

    This does remind me of the actors on Friends and what they did which was quite touching. They ended up each getting paid 1 million an episode each which at first you say is CRAZY! But originally only the *determined stars* (aka Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston) were offered 1 Million but they said that they all got paid the same or else they were ready to leave. I also believe in the negotiation talks they got significantly better hours and wages for the entire crew. So lesson is you should never be to quick to judge

  16. Betty says:

    OK, so they are under contract for $65,000 per episode for 7 seasons. They have been offered a renegotiation of $200,000 for season 4 and 5, $225,000 for season 6 and $325,000 for each additional sesson-through season 9. but they want roughly double these amounts, WOW. I find this really disgusting. I am one of the few who doesn’t even watch the show, it doesn’t appeal to me but I know a lot of other people love it. This is a sad statement to all of the fans of the show who are giving them the high ratings so they can get a raise.

    • paychck2payckck says:

      ^^ THANK YOU!

    • get the hell over yourself says:

      Betty, you don’t actually know what they’ve been offered. But that ain’t stopping you from find it disgusting. I’d simmer down if I were you. What do you care what they make? Do you feel this way about all rich people or just those that you don’t think ‘deserve’ their money? Disgusting indeed.

    • Disbelieving says:

      You may find this “disgusting”, but the higher ups just sold this show for a huge sum into syndication and the actors on the show have every right to seek compensation for the years it plays in syndication. You believe that the only people who should get rich off of this show are the corporate suits? That is absurd. The show cannot exist without the talent.

  17. Jared says:

    Honestly, 65k is nothing in the TV World. Remember when the FRIENDS made 1 mill per episode??? I think they deserve more.

  18. Lola says:

    Yeah. Because it’s definitely greedy to want a small, infinitismal cut of the ridiculous amounts of money the network and the production company are currently receiving and will receive into the future. Boy do I feel sorry for the suits.

  19. Dawn says:

    The 1st season was great, 2nd not so much, 3rd…. Don’t really care anymore. After the huge success of the 1st season Sofia’s accent got worse w/ebery episode. Sometimes success is poison.

  20. Britta Unfiltered says:

    I assume since Ed O’Neil isn’t joining in he must have already negotiated himself a pretty good deal, which makes sense, since he had the most star power when the show first started. I wonder if this kind of backstage drama affects how the Emmy voters vote. Do they find it childish and petty and start to lean towards voting for other shows and other actors? Or do they say good for them and cast their votes for the show? Or do they just not care enough to even bother letting it affect their votes?
    My one deal with this that doesn’t make me think very well of the cast is they’re not really renegotiating, they are suing saying contracts they already agreed to and signed are illegal. Now that they are more famous, they are using their star power to try and get out of their contracts to get more money out of the network. If they already agreed to those contracts, they should just follow them until the contracts are up and then they can do whatever they want to renegotiate. It seems very spoiled to try and get out of their contracts like this.

  21. Jesse says:

    Does anybody know how this compares to the kind of money that Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd make from Modern Family?

  22. Beth says:

    It all just greed. I am sure the person that does the lighting or work in costume will feel much love for the cast if and when they come back due the fact they may fact they may lose money if this drawn out

  23. actually... says:

    i know it might seem like greed, but it’s important for powerful actors in Hollywood to protect the entire acting community. the more money the studio and the network make from the show, the more money the cast is entitled to. issues like this set precedents that trickle down to the actors that are actually just trying to make ends meet.

    • paychck2payckck says:

      “It’s important for powerful actors in Hollywood to protect the entire acting community.” WOW…when did that go into their contracts! LOL. I believe that is what SAG is for. SAG is a UNION and its whole purpose is to protect actors. We don’t need vigilante actors trying to protect the entire acting community!
      Also, the studio and network took into account the increase in money it made by trying to re-negotiate out of court:

      “The actors had been offered $150,000 per episode and a $50,000 bonus per episode for the upcoming fourth season, and $200,000 for the fifth season…”

  24. ABC says:

    Greedy bastards. I smell a countersuit. Do they know who there dealing with? I hope abc sues the crap out of them

  25. Mark says:

    I don’t care if ABC makes a ton of money. Why do people care? I also don’t care if the actors make a ton of money.

  26. CJ says:

    This is just disgusting to me. So ridiculous.

  27. paychck2paychck says:

    Does anyone even look at what these actors make a year – aside from Modern Family? Just for appearances and such? Sofia “Gloria” made 19 million last year. All due to the recognition that Modern Family brought her. But no you’re right, she (and the others) TOTALLY need more money. So of course they’re in the right to file a lawsuit. O_o

  28. paychck2paychck says:

    I am WAY too invested in this conversation.

  29. Tanya says:

    Imagine if soldiers did this.. FCk it I’m not picking up my rifle today until we renegotiate my contract …

  30. way2Badults says:

    They set a great example now too. The ‘kids’ are now demanding a raise. Things haven’t yet escalated to them suing – but I’m sure they know who to look to if they need help in that area.