With the premiere for season 4 of the popular ABC sitcom “Modern Family,” it’s been disclosed by TV Guide that each of the adult cast members earn a whopping $175,000 per episode; with a typical season generating 25 episodes for a take home pay of nearly $4.3 million for each Modern Family star. Add to that all those TV commercials featuring the show’s Sofia Vergara; and the Columbian American is one of the highest paid women on television. However, soon after ABC renewed Modern Family for a fourth season on May 10, some of the cast attempted to renegotiate their existing contracts “to obtain higher per-episode fees," stated a Hollywood Reporter story from July 24 titled: “Modern Family Cast Sues 20th TV as Contract Renegotiation Turns Ugly.” The story when on to explain how five of the cast members – Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara – “retained the Quinn Emanuel law firm and sued 20th Century Fox Television in Los Angeles Superior Court on July 24.” Also, the Hollywood Reporter also noted that while not part of the lawsuit, “Ed O’Neill – who had been earning more per episode than the other five adult stars – joined his fellow cast-mates in seeking raises for each to about $200,000 per episode.” That equates to about a cool $5 million for a season’s work on “Modern Family.”
Modern Family stars want more bucks
The Hollywood Reporter explained how “their complaint” for more pay “invoked the ‘seven-year-rule’ in California Labor Code Section 2855 (the DeHavilland Law), and requested a declaration that their contracts were void because as drafted, the contracts were in violation of that rule.”
As of Aug. 15, the lawsuit is still pending.
However, Hollywood Reporter noted how “the performers returned for their first table read on July 26, with the understanding that the producers would resume contract negotiations in good faith,” while the debut of the new season four for “Modern Family” is set for ABC on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 9/8c.
At the same time, TV Guide’s new Aug. 13-26 magazine features the bold headlines “TV’s Highest Paid Stars” with good old “Judge Judy” (Judy Sheindlin) being television’s top earner – for this exclusive 1 percent Hollywood millionaire club – earning a record $45 million per year; or more than the gross domestic product for most third world countries.
Also, why blame the adult stars of TV’s Modern Family for wanting more and more money each paycheck, when other television comedians earn way more than this cast.
For instance, TV Guide reports the following top earning funny men and women on the tube:
-- Ashton Kutcher: $700,000 per episode for “Two and a Half Men”
-- Jon Cryer: $600,000 per episode for “Two and a Half Men”
-- Tina Fey: $350,000 per episode for “30 Rock”
-- Alec Baldwin: $300,000 per episode for “30 Rock”
-- Kaley Cuoco: $300,000 per episode for “The Big Bang Theory”
-- Johnny Galecki: $300,000 per episode for “The Big Bang Theory”
-- Angus T. Jones: $3000,000 per episode for “Two and a Half Men”
-- Jim Parsons: $3000,000 per episode for “The Big Bang Theory”
-- Patricia Heaton: $235,000 per episode for “The Middle
At the same time, each of these TV stars portrays a character that claims to relate to the “common working man;” while the only television salary that seems to be “blue collar,” is “Crystal” the monkey on the new NBC “Animal Practice” comedy sitcom who earns $12,000 per episode.
Is Modern Family still the same?
While ABC has not teased fans with clips from the new fourth season that premieres Sept. 26, if the show follows previous seasons it may pick-up where it left off at the end of season three with the episode titled “Baby on Board” – that aired May 23 – with a story about how Gloria helps Cam and Mitch pursue an adoption opportunity.
Meanwhile, Jan and Manny baby-sit Lily, and Alex attends her first prom; while Haley makes a shocking announcement about her plans for the future – to move in with Dylan.
And, of course, season 4 will most likely revolve around Gloria being pregnant after she dropped the bomb during this final episode of season 3.
At the same time, fans can expect this “ensemble cast” to continue with the show’s formula; with the show revolving around three families that are interrelated through Jay Prichett (Ed O’Neill) who plays the patriarch; while married to a much younger woman, Gloria, played by the stunning Sofia Vergara who seems to be all over the tube since her “Modern Family” success.
Modern Family first aired on Oct. 8, 2009.
Modern Family losing its comedy mojo, say critics
Sure, Modern Family is still earning lots and lots of Primetime Emmy awards, but TV critics worry that the show is sort of going down-hill after the recent season 3 episodes.
In turn, fans have blogged about the show with overall very mixed and sometimes negative reviews; while most report “Modern Family” loosing “it’s originality and wit” while doing more cliché bits that are old school.
For instance, the popular TV reviewer Peter Swanson – writing for Slant Magazine – writes how the first episode of season 3 "the type of wacky-location stunt that's usually reserved for the fifth or sixth season of a dying sitcom", the following episodes "have been better [...] but they're still uneven.”
Swanson also pointed criticism at the show’s writers for using too many “stunt episodes and celebrity cameos.” In turn, the critic gave season 3 of Modern Family (now out on DVD) 3 out of 4 stars.
Meanwhile, both fans and TV critics have pointed to Modern Family’s use of a “laugh track” to sort of push the comedy that now seems a bit tired and even forced with few new “zingers” on the show during the last season.
Still, the third season of “Modern Family” recently earned a record 14 Emmy Award nominations, the most nominations for a comedy.
Tech is hot on Modern Family
At the same time, The New York Times recently called attention to how Modern Family “depicts the increasing way communications technology shapes the way people perceive others, even family members.
In turn, the Times reports: “Mark Zuckerberg may be a greater influence on Modern Family than Norman Lear."
The show's writers and actors agree.
For instance, the Times interviewed Modern Family’s producer Abraham Higginbotham who said: "We used to talk about how cellphones killed the sitcom because no one ever goes to anyone's house anymore" for routine information. We embrace technology so it's part of the story."
Also, the show’s Ty Burrell told the Times that "I had this little flash of Phil - and me - that we are parsing our personality together externally from how people perceive us."
In turn, ABC’s “Modern Family” returns with its new season four on Sept. 26; while the show’s producers have not yet announced if comedian Fred Willard - who plays Phil’s father on the show – will return to Modern Family this fourth season in the wake of his “lewd conduct” arrest in Hollywood last month.
Image source of a promotional poster for the first season of ABC’s “Modern Family” that returns to primetime on Sept. 26. Photo courtesy Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Family