‘Modern Family’ cast to share in show’s wealth

Actors, 20th Century Fox TV in salary renegotiation talks

The stars of “Modern Family” are looking forward to pay raises before they return to work this summer for the laffer’s third season.

The cast members are in the midst of salary renegotiations with 20th Century Fox TV in recognition of the show’s success on ABC and the boffo syndication pact inked last year. And if that weren’t enough to keep the biz-affairs folks at the studio busy this summer, it’s understood that salary talks for key “Glee” cast members will also be held later this summer.

Nobody’s talking on the record, but it is expected that the new pacts will bring the adult members of the “Family” cast to parity in their paychecks, with the exception of Ed O’Neill. O’Neill came into the show at a higher rate than the other five adult thesps, given his higher profile and sitcom chops from the “Married … with Children” days.

But O’Neill also shaved some bucks off of his quote, starting out in season one at about $95,000 per seg, in exchange for a small backend stake in the show — a gamble that will pay off big time for the veteran thesp.

The other adult actors started out at salaries that were said to range from about $30,000 per seg to about $60,000. Industry insiders predict the quintet — Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara — will wind up near a six-figure sum the third season, with escalators built in for future seasons.

As is common in salary renegotiations, the thesps will add a few more years onto their contracts with the studio, which at present run through season six. Industry observers say it’s highly unlikely that any of the other thesps will be able to command a sliver of the backend.

O’Neill is expected to rise to at least $150,000 for season three.

Sources cautioned that the deals are still in the negotiating phase and that final details have not been set. Insiders say the talks so far have not been contentious, in part because 20th was willing to engage in salary renegotiations sooner rather than later.

There’s been speculation about whether the “Family” five would engage in a “Friends”-like tactic of putting up a united front with the studio. That isn’t happening, insiders say, but it’s noteworthy that the four adult men are repped by the same tenpercentery, ICM. Bowen is repped by Paradigm; Vergara is with WME.

In addition to the syndication riches, which kick in when the show preems on USA Network and broadcast stations in 2013, 20th will likely get some help in absorbing the higher costs on “Family” after another season or two under the terms of its perpetual license fee agreement with ABC.

Under those terms, in exchange for giving up the right to renegotiate the license fee agreement or relocate the show after a few seasons, the network will have to cover the studio’s deficits on the show, so long as it hits certain ratings targets. In most ABC perpetual license fee deals, the deficit coverage provision begins in season four or five.

The renegotiations for the “Family” clan come a few months after Warner Bros. TV went through salary renegotiations with the cast of CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory.” In that case, the three principal stars — Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons — got the same salary bump, to $200,000 per seg, despite an effort by Parsons reps to demand more in light of his breakout status and Emmy win for lead comedy actor.

“Family’s” Stonestreet brings a supporting actor Emmy win to the table in his negotiations, but sources close to the situation predict that the trophy may not hold much sway as the studio focuses on salary parity and maintaining harmony on the set.

The calculations on “Glee” may require an even more elaborate pecking order given its lengthy list of actors, although Jane Lynch, Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison are surely at the head of the class. But the “Glee” gang is not in the same financial position as “Family.” “Family” nabbed an eye-popping $1.5 million per episode from USA Network, with many millions more to come from broadcast TV stations. “Glee” rerun rights sold for far less to cabler Oxygen.

(Cynthia Littleton contributed to this story.)

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