Wednesday, July 25, 2012

'Modern Family' cast sues: What will it mean for the hit sitcom? - Los Angeles Times

The fourth season of "Modern Family" was set to begin production Tuesday, but a majority of cast members didn't show up. Instead, stars Sofia Vergara, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell filed suit in California Superior Court against 20th Century Fox Television, the studio that makes the show for ABC, claiming their contracts are illegal.

So what does all this mean for the hit sitcom, which just last week picked up 14 Emmy nominations for last season? The Times will host a Google+  Hangout with reporter Joe Flint to discuss the controversy and its implications at 4 p.m. Pacific time today.

The story behind the lawsuit is that, although the current contracts of the cast run through 2016, the cast has been trying to cut new deals that would include significant raises. Such negotiations are not unusual in the television business, especially for a hit show, but it is rare that talks go to the courtroom. A 20th Century Fox spokesman declined to comment on the suit or on whether the studio would follow with its own.

In the suit, the cast members argue that their employment agreements violate California law prohibiting deals that run longer than seven years. It's a common tactic in trying to renegotiate pacts. In this case, the contracts are up at the end of June 2016, but all were signed before June 2009.

By teaming up, the six cast members are hoping to gain leverage over 20th Century Fox Television. In the past, casts of other hit shows, including "Friends" and "Seinfeld," have succeeded with that approach.

"Modern Family's" child actors â€" Rico Rodriguez, Nolan Gould, Sarah Hyland and Ariel Winter â€" are not as yet part of the contract dispute. If the talks continue to drag, it could mean that ABC would have to start its season without "Modern Family," but a lot has to happen for that scenario to take place.


'Modern Family' cast members sue

Eric Stonestreet on his Emmy nomination

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