Cast of 'Modern Family' Sues over Contract

July 24, 2012 - 5:52 PM

Modern Family Lawsuit

FILE - This Sept. 18, 2011 file photo shows Ty Burrell, left, Julie Bowen from the television series "Modern Family" holding their Emmys for best supporting and actress actress in a comedy, backstage at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. Five stars of the hit ABC series sued 20th Century Fox Television on Tuesday July 24, 2012, claiming their contracts with the studio are illegal under California law and should be invalidated. (AP Photo/Jae Hong, file)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Five stars of "Modern Family" have banded together and are suing to void their contracts to work on the hit comedy, arguing that the contracts are illegal under California law.

The suit filed Tuesday by series stars Sofia Vergara, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell and argues that their contracts with 20th Century Fox Television violate a California law prohibiting personal service contracts from extending for more than seven years.

The lawsuit asks a judge to rule the contracts are illegal and should be voided because they prohibit the actors from other work. The lawsuit states the contracts bind the actors to work on the series from February 2009 and June 30, 2016.

"'Modern Family' has been a breakout critical and financial success," the lawsuit states. "That success, however, has been built upon a collection of illegal contracts."

A spokeswoman for 20th Century Fox said the studio had no immediate comment on the case.

The lawsuit also states contracts cap the raises the actors receive for each additional season of the show — Vergara's pay raise per season is capped at five percent, while the rest of her co-stars named in the suit are allowed to receive a maximum pay increase of four percent per year. Ferguson, Stonestreet, Bowen and Burrell are also required to perform numerous unpaid publicity obligations.

The show recently concluded its third season.

"Modern Family" is a popular comedy that airs on ABC and won Emmy Awards for outstanding Comedy Series the past two years. Several of the stars, including Burrell, Bowen and Stonestreet have won individual Emmys for their work on the show.

The show was recently nominated for 14 Emmy Awards, the most of any sitcom.

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Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP