Hit ABC family comedy Modern Family has enjoyed three hugely successful seasons, but the status of a fourth is currently up in the air. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a table read scheduled for today was put on hold after cast members Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara sued 20th Century Fox.
The show’s stars are disputing their current contracts and are citing California’s “7 Year Rule” as grounds for litigation. The rule prohibits personal service contracts that exceed seven years. Ed O’Neil was not originally involved in the lawsuit, as his contract is separate and pays more, but the former Married With Children star has joined his fellow cast members as an act of solidarity.
The actors originally signed seven-year contracts, but successful shows typically re-negotiate the contracts of their stars between the third and fourth seasons in order to lock them up beyond a potential seventh season. This is where 20th Century Fox and the cast reached a stalemate, with the aforementioned stars demanding nearly double what they were offered for a potential eighth and ninth seasons.
With the exception of O’Neil, the cast members made a reported $65,000 per episode during Season 3, a total that would have increased each season the show continued to air. The rejected contract would have paid the actors upwards of $325,000 per episode by the time the show reached a ninth season.