"Modern Family" cast delays S4 production, sues 20th Century Fox

by Paul William Tenny

Graph comparing the salary's of the Modern Family cast to the median American household.
Graph comparing the salary's of the Modern
Family cast to the median American

This is one of the many reasons that people legitimately loathe actors, directors, and other Hollywood celebrities.

A story in THR reports that the cast of Modern Family is endangering production of the fourth season over plain and simple greed. It may be common practice for actors to try to break their contracts a few years after their show becomes a hit, and it may be just as common for studios to put up with it, because everybody wins in the end.

But that doesn't make it right.

These actors are already earning more for a single episode -- a few weeks worth of work -- than the median American household makes in a year. It would take such a household composed of two working adults almost 32 years to earn as much as these people make in a single season.

A single male older than 25 would need to work for 43 years to make that much, while a woman of the same age would need 73 years.

20th Century is offering the cast raises equal to nearly $200,000 per episode total for the current season, and "up to $325,000 for an anticipated season 9."

Again, this year alone, these people would be hauling in nearly $4.4 million each, a feat that the median American household couldn't accomplish in 97 years.

Earning as much as these actors do for a single episode (right now) puts them in the top 33.13% of all Americans for income. That's just one episode, not the whole season. Imagine where the season pay of $1.43 million would put them. You "only" have to earn $383,000 per year to hit the top 1% of all Americans, and these people already make those people look poor by comparison.

The studio is offering them a 300% raise from being amongst the 1% richest people in America, but that's not enough. The cast has actually sued 20th Century -- without whom they wouldn't have jobs and already be filthy rich by middle class standards -- to void legally binding contracts they signed, not because they are being ripped off, but because the 300% raise they were offered just isn't enough.

I'll tell you what there isn't enough of in this situation: words to describe how greedy and shameful these people are.

I don't begrudge them for being successful, nor do I have any opinion on whether or not they deserve a raise based on that success. If anything, they probably deserve to be making a lot more, based on how much the network is bringing in from advertising.

The problem is how spoiled the high end of that industry has become and how seemingly ungrateful they are for the privileged and fortunate lives they have. There isn't a single working class family in this country that wouldn't fall on their knees, crying and sobbing, at being offered a 300% raise. The federal minimum wage today guarantees just $7.25 per hour, or about $15,300 per year. 45 million Americans are living in poverty, something we like to pretend only exists in inferior third world countries.

Perhaps living out such fantasies makes it easier to sue your employer to void a contract that's already paid you nearly $4.3 million for three years worth of work that consists of memorizing lines and then repeating them in front of a camera for a living, as opposed to digging ditches for $15,000 per year.

I would have thought that actors, of all people, would understand how lucky they are to have a steady and high paying job. I understand that the unemployment rate for writers and actors tends to be quite severe, well above 50% at any given time. What possible excuse could an actor have for this kind of behavior, knowing full well that they could just as easily be busing tables or doing Viagra commercials for the next 20 years, had they had a flat tire while heading to the audition for Modern Family?

Now they are multimillionaires with enough money that they could have retired by the third season by Hollywood/California standards. By most people's standards, they could have retired comfortably by the sixth episode ($390,000).

If that isn't enough, what is?

I'm sorry if this smacks of jealously, but I don't really care. Withdraw your lawsuit, apologize to the studio that made you ridiculously rich and is offering you a 300% raise even though it doesn't owe you a damn thing because of the legally binding contract that you signed, agreeing to less, apologize to all the fans that watch your show, sit down, shut up, and earn out your contracts like an honorable and decent human being that's grateful for a privileged live that many Kings and Queens of old never knew.

By the time it expires, you'll have earned almost $17.5 million and another couple of years to haggle over.

I think you'll be able to keep the lights on, and food on the table.

Changed the story to reflect that the cast are suing 20th Century Fox, not Warner Brothers.

in Business, Legal


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