UPDATED: The cancelled “table read” that had threatened to delay production on the new season’s episodes of “Modern Family” has been rescheduled for Thursday, reports Deadline.com. The story characterizes the rescheduled event as a “goodwill” gesture on behalf of the show’s cast members who are embroiled in a tug-of-war over a new contract, even suing the production company, 20th Television, in a bid to void their existing pacts. The rescheduled “read” doesn’t mean the contract war is over, however.
PREVIOUSLY: A crucial step in the start of the production process on the new season of “Modern Family” was cancelled due to an “impasse” in ongoing contract negotiations for the stars of the high-rated ABC series.
That’s the word from this story posted Tuesday on the showbiz Web site Deadline.com.
It’s not the first story recently to report that the six principal, adult stars of “Modern Family” — Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet — are embroiled in some tough contract negotiations with 20th Century Fox Television, which produces “Modern Family” for ABC.
But in this new story, some or all of the six didn’t show up for a scheduled “table read” on Tuesday, leading to the cancellation of the event.
In the production of TV comedies (and perhaps dramas too), the weekly “table read” is one of the first steps in rehearsing and then producing an episode. For table reads, cast members sit around a table with new scripts in hand and each reads his or her part aloud for the first time. The process allows them to become comfortable with the words the writers have given them to say, and to discuss possible changes in wording when passages come across as awkward or difficult to recite.
The cancellation of the table read means production on whatever episode they were working on probably won’t get off the ground. The Deadline story says the stars didn’t show up because they consider themselves now without a contract. Or to put it another way: No contract, no table read.
And that’s not all that’s happening on the “Modern Family” contract front:
According to this story on TheWrap.com, most of the cast has joined in a lawsuit against 20th Television in an attempt to get their current contract declared null and void.
The real questions here are: Will “Modern Family” be derailed completely by this midsummer contract boondoggle? And if it’s not derailed, will any of the cast members’ jobs be in jeopardy?
Our take is: It wouldn’t surprise us if the negotiations were to become even more protracted, but our first instinct is to say the answer is no to both questions. And if it’s not “no,” then ABC will have a big problem on its hands because “Modern Family” is the network’s most acclaimed show, and also its highest-rated scripted series.