Let the record show: Contract negotations with TV's funniest family are no joke.
E! News has confirmed that Modern Family's first table read for season four, scheduled for this morning, was canceled because the show's main cast members did not plan to show up. Renegotiations have turned ugly between ABC and the six adult cast members—Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen , Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Ed O'Neill and Sofia Vergara —who want a hefty pay raise for the upcoming fall season.
E! News has learned that O'Neill, the only name-brand actor when the series was launched, makes around $100,000 per episode, while the others are in the $60,000-a-show range. They are all seeking a pay hike "somewhere in the neighborhood" of $200,000 per episode, according to a show insider.
"We haven't been able to reach a deal yet," another source close to the negotiations tells us. "The cast was expected to show up today. Producers were surprised." In fact, last night executive producer Steven Levitan tweeted, "Tomorrow is the first Modern Family table read of season 4! Hard to believe."
Meanwhile a rep for ABC says: "We can confirm that today's table read has been canceled. No other comment at this time." A rep for the studio, 20th Century, declined comment.
And things appear to be worsening by the moment for the Emmy favorite.
Vergara, Tyler-Ferguson, Stonestreet, Burrell and Bowen filed a lawsuit against 20th Century today in Los Angeles Superior Court, charging that Modern Family's success has been "built upon a collection of illegal contracts," according to court documents obtained by E! News.
The suit states that the five actors have been beholden to Fox since 2009 and were at the time locked in for the pilot and seven seasons of what turned out to be their runaway hit show—terms that take them into 2016.
The famous plaintiffs allege that their current deals violate California's Seven-Year Rule, which prohibits personal services contracts for more than seven years. O'Neill is not a plaintiff in the litigation because his contract is structured differently from his castmates, but he has joined the fray in solidarity.
Looks like this family is sticking together.
UPDATE: An amended complaint was filed on July 25 listing O'Neill as a plaintiff.
(Originally published July 24, 2012, at 12:04 p.m. PT)