‘Mod­ern Fam­ily’ cast eyes big­ger pay­checks

The Washington Times Daily - - Television -

Hol­ly­wood is gear­ing up for what could be one of the tough­est — and high­est-stakes — TV con­tract rene­go­ti­a­tions in years.

With third-sea­son pro­duc­tion on ABC’S top-rated and Emmy-win­ning com­edy “Mod­ern Fam­ily” end­ing, rep­re­sen­ta­tives for the se­ries’ six adult cast mem­bers have be­gun for­mu­lat­ing a plan to ne­go­ti­ate sig­nif­i­cantly higher salaries with pro­ducer 20th Tele­vi­sion, mul­ti­ple sources told the Hol­ly­wood Re­porter.

Cast mem­bers Julie Bowen, Ty Bur­rell, Jesse Tyler Fer­gu­son, Eric Ston­estreet and Sofia Ver­gara were paid in the $65,000-an-episode range for the 22-episode third sea­son, ac­cord­ing to sources, a fee that was bumped up from the first two sea­sons last sum­mer. (Mr. Ston­estreet re­port­edly was mak­ing $20,000 an episode or so for the first sea­son, when he won an Emmy, one of 11 wins for the se­ries.)

Ed O’neill, who came to “Mod­ern Fam­ily” af­ter suc­cess on “Mar­ried . . . With Chil­dren” and other se­ries, makes in the range of $105,000 an episode.

Now the se­ries is head­ing into its all-im­por­tant fourth sea­son, when casts of­ten rene­go­ti­ate their con­tracts, scor­ing big pay­days in ex­change for agree­ing to ex­tend orig­i­nal seven-year deals by an ad­di­tional year or two so the stu­dio can gen­er­ate big­ger syn­di­ca­tion rev­enue.

One source sug­gested the cast could ask for a jump to the $200,000-an-episode range for sea­son four, which would be on par with the three stars of CBS’ “The Big Bang The­ory” when they re­upped af­ter their show’s third sea­son in 2010. Reps will seek ad­di­tional boosts of $50,000 to $100,000 for sub­se­quent sea­sons, but 20th is likely to re­sist open­ing the vault for a cast with twice as many leads as the “Big Bang” trio.

“It’s go­ing to get ugly,” a source close to the sit­u­a­tion said.

To be sure, the show is a profit cen­ter for its stu­dio and net­work. “Mod­ern Fam­ily” rein­vig­o­rated a com­edy genre many had left for dead. The show reg­u­larly draws 13.7 mil­lion view­ers, up 12 per­cent from a year ear­lier, ac­cord­ing to Nielsen. In 2011, “Mod­ern Fam­ily” gen­er­ated $164 mil­lion in ad rev­enue for ABC, up 40 per­cent year-over-year, ac­cord­ing to Kan­tar Me­dia.

Still more im­pres­sive: The show has be­come TV’S No. 1 scripted se­ries among younger view­ers and is the high­est-rated com­edy since “Friends” and “Will & Grace.”

Fol­low­ing “Mod­ern Fam­ily’s” break­out first sea­son in 2010, 20th inked a rich syn­di­ca­tion deal with USA Net­work — its first ma­jor sit­com ac­qui­si­tion — for a li­cense fee close to $1.5 mil­lion an episode, ac­cord­ing to sources. The eye­pop­ping sum was roughly on par with a deal struck by TBS and Warner Bros. for “Big Bang” re­peats. “Mod­ern Fam­ily” is poised to bring in mil­lions more from broad­cast sta­tions when the se­ries rolls out in syn­di­ca­tion in 2013, and for­eign rev­enue is said to be es­pe­cially ro­bust.

The ques­tion now is whether the “Mod­ern Fam­ily” cast will ne­go­ti­ate to­gether, much as the stars of “Friends” fa­mously did. (Each jumped to $100,000 per episode af­ter the sec­ond sea­son and later scored $1 mil­lion an episode for the final sea­son on NBC.)

Mr. O’neill so far has de­clined to join his co-stars, though a source says strat­egy talks among the rep­re­sen­ta­tives are just be­gin­ning and ne­go­ti­a­tions likely will stretch into the sum­mer.


Martha Ste­wart an­nounced on her show Tues­day that Christina Ver­relli, of Devon, Pa., was the win­ner of the 2012 Pills­bury Bake-off Con­test. Ms. Verelli won $1 mil­lion and $10,000 worth of GE kitchen ap­pli­ances.

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