Modern Family cast stuck in illegal contracts

Five stars of the hit TV comedy series Modern Family are suing 20th Century Fox Television for illegal contracts. Key series stars Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Mitchell), Sofia Vergara (Gloria), Julie Bowen (Claire), Eric Stonestreet (Cameron), and Ty Burrell (Phil) filed a lawsuit against the studio on Tuesday in California Superior Court. The lawsuit states that their contracts violate a California law that prohibits personal service contracts from extending beyond seven years. The actors’ current contracts, that bind them to work on the hit TV series until June 2016, were signed before February 2009. The lawsuit asks for the contracts to be voided because they are illegal and prohibit actors from other professional work. The lawsuit also addresses the issue of the raise caps set by the actors’ contracts – all the actors are capped at either four or five per cent per season and have to make unpaid public appearances. Modern Family airs on ABC and production on the fourth season is scheduled to begin this week. The show is a critical and financial success, having won the Emmy for Best Comedy Show two years in a row and averaging 13 million viewers per episode. ~Stacy Raivich

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Comments & Discussion

  1. Amanda • July 26, 2012 @ 9:28 AM

    They’re already making $60,000 to $100,000 per week, which is more than most people make in a year. Greedy.

  2. Alice • July 26, 2012 @ 9:33 AM

    This better not put the show on standby!! i was so looking forward to the upcoming season

  3. Melody • July 26, 2012 @ 9:46 AM

    It all depends how much revenue the show is bringing in. Clearly Modern Family has become a success so they definitely deserve a raise, but 200,000 from 60,000? I’d say at max. their salaries should be doubled, then see how the show goes from there.

  4. Mark • July 26, 2012 @ 9:50 AM

    The raise caps should be a non-issue, because yeah, that’s sort of them just being greedy. But I totally sympathize with them wanting to kill a contract that violates the law and locks them in for a ridiculous number of years – though, with the way this show is going, they’re likely going to be working well through 2016, and this move is probably just a renegotiation tactic. Shame.

  5. Chris • July 26, 2012 @ 9:54 AM

    How are they only just realizing now that the contracts are illegal? Fail.

  6. david • July 26, 2012 @ 9:55 AM

    hope this doesn’t affect the new season…modern family is defintely my favourite show

  7. Brad • July 26, 2012 @ 10:01 AM

    It’s not Fox’s fault they weren’t smart enough to read their contracts BEFORE signing it. Epic Fail.

  8. Lou • July 26, 2012 @ 11:09 AM

    Brad, perhaps they didn’t have a choice. Have you ever had a job interview where you asked for more money and better conditions and been told “take it or leave it”? And you never know if a show is going to be a hit. Guaranteed if they are asking for X the producers etc are making Y and they SHOULD be well paid. It may be the last time they work again (especially in Julie Bowen’s case, since this is her THIRD successful show, which is almost unheard of).

  9. Ian • July 26, 2012 @ 11:12 AM

    It has nothing to do with being greedy. 4 or 5% raise is a little above inflation. Where is their incentive to work harder? They’ve done an amazing job and deserve enumeration representative of that. You can’t honestly believe that “they make more then some do in a year” has any bearing at all, do you? The salaries of these actors, and other people in different industries are completely independent of one another.

    Not to mention, if they continue to receive the same salary while the show becomes more successful (and brings in more revenue) then where do you think the money is going? It doesn’t just disappear. Fox would be the only one considered greedy in this situation.

  10. C-Dub • July 26, 2012 @ 7:23 PM

    They are going to price themselves out of work. The lifespan of these shows is like 6-8 yrs it seems on average. I’m sure ABC can cancel and start over if they wanted to. Too much of an ensamble cast to start asking for Sheen type money each.

  11. Mary • July 26, 2012 @ 9:41 PM

    You can’t compare tv star salaries to the “average person” salary, don’t be ridiculous. Friends stars were making a mil per episode. $60,000 is more than your salary, but considered low for an Emmy winning program. If the series is super successful then the network is making enough to pay them all 20 times what they’re making. If anyone is greedy, it’s the network. As far as their contracts go, a 7 year contract is typical and there is usually a clause to renegotiate between seasons 3 and 4 if it’s successful, which is the case here. This is typical and all above board, just twisted into a “news” story. Nothing to see here, folks.

  12. Chanda • August 5, 2012 @ 9:33 AM

    Oh my, no matter how much money these celebrities get they always want more.

  13. SClub7 • August 6, 2012 @ 2:15 PM

    Brad completely agree with you! All I could think while reading this article is why the hell did they sign the contracts if they were illegal!?! They just figured that out more than 3 years after signing (from February 2009)…And Lou they did have a choice – there is a difference between a take it or leave it scenario where you might do something that is unethical that makes you question your moral values (but at the same time, yes, maybe they just needed to be working) BUT this article makes it clear that the contracts are actually illegal. This is entirely another issue.

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