ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee opened his time with reporters at the Television Critics Association with an understatement.
“‘Modern Family’ [is] obviously lots in the news at the moment,” Lee said Friday (July 27), referring to the much-publicized contract dispute between producer 20th Century Fox and six of the show’s actors. He does say, though, that he expects a resolution fairly soon.
“I expect the season to start on time,” Lee says. “As you know, we’re in the middle of negotiations. … We’re hopeful, we’re optimistic that we’ll be able to resolve it.”
Pressed further on the issue, Lee wouldn’t say much more about the negotiations and whether he had a contingency plan if the dispute drags on: “I don’t want to discuss hypotheticals,” he says. “Certainly I feel hopeful about it.”
“Modern Family’s” six adult cast members — Ed O’Neill, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Sofia Vergara, Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson — are seeking big raises over what they made last season (O’Neill reportedly earned $105,000 per episode, while the others made $65,000 per show) and a stake in the show’s back-end profits.
The studio has already sold rerun rights to the show to USA for a reported $1.5 million per episode, beginning in fall 2013. “Modern Family,” one of the top-rated scripted series on TV, generated $164 million in ad revenue for ABC last season.