Modern Family Actors Sue Studio in Salary Fight

Salary negotiations heat up as the cast of Modern Family decideds to sue 20th Century Fox

The cast of Modern Family

The negotiations between the cast of Modern Family and producer 20th Century Fox TV have taken a turn — into court

The ABC hit’s six adult cast members, who are seeking substantial raises going into the show’s fourth season, have filed a lawsuit against the studio that seeks to void their contracts. According to The Hollywood Reporter, they’re arguing their current deals violate a California law saying personal services contracts can’t run longer than seven years.

A table read scheduled for Tuesday (July 24) was canceled after the actors threatened not to show up for work.

Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara — who are negotiating as a group — initially filed the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court. Their co-star (and fellow Emmy nominee) Ed O’Neill initially wasn’t part of the suit but later signed on as a plaintiff out of solidarity.

The five stars negotiating as a group made a reported $65,000 per episode last season and are seeking salaries for Season 4 in excess of $150,000 per episode. O’Neill had a higher starting point — he earned a reported $105,000 per episode last year — but is also looking for a sizable salary bump.

Modern Family brought ABC $164 million in advertising revenue last season, the Reporter says, while averaging about 13 million viewers and a 5.5 rating in adults 18-49. The show already has a syndication deal in place with USA, which will start airing repeats in fall 2013. The cable channel paid 20th Century Fox more than $1 million per episode for the rights.