‘Modern Family’ kicks off Paleyfest

Paleyfest 2010 got off to a roaring start Friday night as hit freshman comedy series “Modern Family” began the two-week festivities.

The night began with a clip of the pilot of “Married … With Children,“ with a very young looking Ed O’Neil trading barbs with Katey Sagal. Though he didn’t have his hands in his pants in the first episode, Al Bundy would soon become a TV icon, and one that O’Neil would say later on in the night he had a hard time dealing with.Modern-family

O’Neil, actually, had no intention of returning to the half-hour sitcom format, but didn’t want to let a good opportunity slip away.

“I never wanted to do another half-hour show. You want to do something else,” said the actor who was clearly revered by his fellow castmates on the stage at the Saban Theater. “When I read the script, I said, ‘Oh, no, I have to go back to work.”

Eric Stonestreet seemed most appreciative of being part of the ABC series, having come from Kansas — where he was a standout football player — to make his mark in Hollywood. Under direction from showrunner Steve Levitan and director Jason Winer, his effiminate strutting on stage — the way his character Cam would meander — had the crowd the howling.

When asked if playing a gay character sometimes hinders him when dating, Stonestreet responded: “Yeah, I have a hole to dig myself out of when I meet the ladies.”

Sofia Vergara, as beautiful in person as in the show, was the recipient of several jokes. She was picked on because of her gorgeous looks and her Colombian accent, and when O’Neil took a few jabs, she bounced back: “Well, I never though I’d be married to Al Bundy.”

Both Vergara and O’Neil had concerns at the show’s outset that many — including themselves — would have a hard time believing their respective characters were right together. Some would contend that she was a gold digger, attracted only to Jay’s money, but she defended their romance.

“They’re perfect for each other,” she said, and then added to howls of laughter. “It’s obvious what he gets from me.”

Ty Burrell’s shining moment occurred when he told a story of he and his wife walking in Central Park in New York when a homeless man playing a dilapidated violin stopped in mid-note when recognizing the actor and offered him a thesis on why “Modern Family” resonates with viewers.

Tonight at Paley: An evening with the writers and cast of “Lost.” The Saban is sold out, and those scheduled to appear include Terry O’Quinn, Michael Emerson, Zuleihka Robinson, Nestor Carbonell, Daniel Dae Kim, Elizabeth Sarnoff, Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, Jack Bender, Edward Kitsis. and Adam Horowitz.

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