| NEW YORK, July 24
NEW YORK, July 24 The cast of the award-winning
TV show "Modern Family" sued the comedy's production company,
20th Century Fox Television, on Tuesday for violating their work
contracts under California Law in a move seen as a bid for
The shows' stars, including Sofia Vergara, Eric
Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell,
were named in the lawsuit filed in state court in Los Angeles in
a legal move to void their current contracts.
The complaint was posted on celebrity websites including
TheWrap.com, which said the show's other main star, Ed O'Neill,
later joined the lawsuit in solidarity with his co-stars.
"'Modern Family' has been a breakout critical and financial
success. That success, however, has been built upon a collection
of illegal contracts," the lawsuit said.
A spokeswoman for 20th Century Fox had no immediate comment
on the lawsuit, but confirmed that "a table read was canceled
today," which would have marked the cast's return to production
in preparation for a fourth season starting in September.
The complaint said the current contracts for Ferguson,
Bowen, Burrell and Stonestreet violated a California law that
limits personal service contracts to no longer than seven years.
After starting in January 2009, most of actors' deals were set
to run until June 2016, making them illegal, the lawsuit said.
In addition, the actors were required to perform publicity
year-round and were allowed a maximum pay increase of 4 percent
per episode annually.
The actors were offered $150,000 per episode and a $50,000
bonus per episode for the upcoming fourth season, and $200,000
for the fifth season, a person familiar with the negotiations
told TheWrap.com, but those figures could not be confirmed.
Last week, "Modern Family" was nominated for 14 Emmy Awards,
including best TV comedy, and has been a major hit for the ABC
TV network. But in recent weeks, the actors have been locked in
contract talks, and Tuesday's legal filing was widely seen as a
negotiation tactic, according to industry publications.