TV

'Modern Family' Contracts Dispute

Just as their characters are all family on the sitcom, the adult "Modern Family" cast members are taking that approach by sticking together to sue 20th Century Fox Television earlier this week in order to renegotiate their contracts.

Originally, it was co-stars Julie Bowen, Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sofia Vergara and Ty Burrell, but actor Ed O'Neill -- who is paid at a much higher level -- joined in as a show of solidarity.

The situation isn't uncommon in Hollywood. Typically, stars try to renegotiate their deals between the third and fourth seasons, because that's when they have the most leverage -- the show is already an established hit, and is approaching going into syndication, which is where the big money is for the studio.

Other casts have tried similar tactics, to varying degrees of success. The cast of "Friends" always bonded together and worked out equal deals to continue that hit. But cast members of the original "CSI" tried a similar tactic, which they had to abandon when the studio called their bluff and threatened to fire them.

"Modern Family" is the biggest hit on TV. Not only are its ratings huge for ABC, but it also allowed the network to launch shows like "Don't Trust The B--" and "Happy Endings" in the 9:30 p.m. timeslot. Not only that, but "Modern Family" swept the Emmys last year in all the categories it had a nominee, and will likely do so again this year.

The five original members of the lawsuit get reportedly $90,000 per episode, which seems like a lot to the rest of us who work for a living. But the show has been a goldmine for Fox and ABC, and this is likely the best chance for the cast to get significant raises.

But, will this get settled quickly? The cast already missed the first table read of the season on Tuesday as a part of this, so who knows what this will do to the shooting schedule the further it goes?

Also, there's a risk of alienating fans of the show who might view either the actors or the studio (or, more likely, both) as greedy, especially in the wake of the continued slumping economy.

In the end, I don't see this last too long, because there's too much money to be made by the studio and the actors.

RIPs: TV lost two longtime stars Tuesday with the passing of Sherman Helmsley, 74, and Chad Everett, 75. The former was the longtime star of "The Jeffersons," while the latter was a familiar face on TV, most notably as the star of "Medical Center."

Also passing was writer Frank Pierson, who won Oscars for his screenplays to "Cool Hand Luke" and "Dog Day Afternoon." Pierson also worked as a consulting producer on shows such as "Mad Men" and "The Good Wife."

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: Getting into the Olympic spirit a couple of days early, BBC America airs the movie "Going For The Gold: The '48 Games" at 8 p.m. It features "Doctor Who" star Matt Smith and Sam Hoare as real-life rowers Bert Bushnel and Dickie Burnell, who competed for Britain in the two-man scull event at the 1948 London Olympics. It's followed by a new episode of "AbFab" centered around the current Olympics.

USA offers new episodes of "Royal Pains" and "Necessary Roughness" from 9-11 p.m., while TNT has a new "Dallas" at 9 p.m.

NBC airs "The CLIOS: The World's Best Commercials" at 8 p.m.

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