Update: Contract negotiations resume between 20th Century Fox TV and reps for the Modern Family cast.  

Modern Family cast members Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara have filed a lawsuit against 20th Century Fox TV in attempt to renegotiate their contracts and boost their salaries. According to Deadline.com, the five actors didn’t show up for the table read scheduled Tuesday morning, leading 20th TV to cancel the session that would have marked the start of production of the Emmy-winning comedy series’ fourth season.

The five actors are reportedly negotiating together for $200,000 each for season 4 in a move similar to the strategy of the cast of Friends, in which they threatened to boycott production of the show unless they got increased paychecks that eventually reached $1 million per episode. Additionally, the cast is also hoping to receive double of what the studio is offering for a theoretical season 9 since they have signed long-term contracts at the start of the show.

Unfortunately, negotiations didn’t go well for the actors and the studio, prompting the former to file for a lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court that claims that their original contracts for Modern Family violate California’s seven-year limit on personal service contracts. Ed O’Neill, who was the only one present for the table read, has since joined the litigation to support his co-stars, Variety reports.

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UPDATE:  According to The Hollywood Reporter, a table read for the fourth season’s premiere episode was scheduled earlier today. The cast showed up as a gesture of good faith in spite of the lawsuit and some of them even even expressed their excitement on Twitter.

Julie Bowen tweeted: “Just finished 1st table read of the season. Again, our writers are amazing. Can’t wait to start season four!” 

Jesse Tyler Ferguso tweeted: “Just finished the 1st table read for Modern Family! A hilarious & moving script from our writers!”

Meanwhile, reps for the actors and the studio are expected to resume negotiations. Sources, however, claim that  part of the negotiations is a request that series creators Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd step in for a new financial arrangement for the cast.

In other news, ABC is planning some changes in its Wednesday fall lineup. Deadline.com reports that new comedy series The Neighbors, which was initially set to air after Modern Family at 9:30pm, will now serve as a lead-in at 8:30pm. Suburgatory, on the other hand, will take over The Neighbors‘ original schedule at 9:30pm. The switch is expected to boost ratings for Suburgatory for its second season.

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(Image courtesy of ABC)

Dean Bextor

Staff Writer, BuddyTV