Home Celebrity TV: “Modern Family” Cast Sues Fox, Actors Don’t Show for First Day...

The cast of “Modern Family” didn’t show up on Tuesday for the table reading of the script for the first episode of the new season. They’re suing 20th Century Fox TV instead, invoking the “seven year law” that binds them to Fox and ABC exclusively and limits their pay. All of them are Emmy nominees–Sofia Vergara, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell. Not included in the suit, but apparently in sympathy, is the other cast member, Ed O’Neill. The lawsuit is about money, of course.

The actors want significant raises so that when the show is over, and they’re typecast or work is harder to find, they’re in good shape. Similar situations have happened with shows like “Friends” and “Mad About You” where the actors negotiated together and wound up winning large sums. But the “Modern Family” cast is invoking an unusual law that prevents a company from tying up a performer for more than seven years. For some reason, all of their contracts do just that.

“Modern Family” is ABC’s jewel in the crown right now, with lots of prestige and awards. I’m surprised they let this go so far and become so public.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
1 reply to this post
  1. I think that 7 year rule is a result of the efforts of Olivia deHavilland, who in 1946 sued her then studio, Warner Brothers, for adding time to her original contract…resulting from penalties added, when she didn’t want to do certain films. It makes sense for them to band together and get the most that they can, considering that ABC is making millions from the show.

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