As set up back in March and only now answered by the punchline of a smash cut forward in time, the Modern Family cast renegotiations are, in fact, getting pretty ugly. The toddler who plays Lily has yet to begin her usual strategy of calmly asking for a tumbler of scotch only to smash it in some executive's face to show them who's boss, but it's ugly all the same—so ugly that Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sofia Vergara, and Ed O'Neill all filed lawsuits today against 20th Century Fox TV, seeking to void their contracts. This comes after the last-minute cancellation of today's table read that was supposed to kick off the fourth season, which in turn came after the Modern Family principals all rejected the offer of $150,000 per episode, plus a $50,000 per episode bonus for this season; $200,000 per episode for a fifth season; and $225,000 per episode for season six. These increases would have even continued all the way up to $325,000 per episode should the show make it to a ninth season, which The Hollywood Reporter says is "anticipated"—in the sense that it is expected, not in the sense that we are necessarily looking forward to a 19-year-old, awkwardly mustachioed Luke and Manny spawning even-more-modern families of their own.
But the cast is holding firm in demanding much more than that—including more than $650,000 per episode in the eighth and ninth seasons, for having to watch all that puberty—with O'Neill demanding his own commensurate bump to his original, much-higher-than-everyone-else salary. And given that Fox stands to make a lucrative, multimillion-dollar haul from the show's syndication, it's not entirely unreasonable that the cast should ask for a more balanced compensation. Still, it probably doesn't help (nor does it seem like an accident suddenly) that this negotiation is flaring up right at the same time that Vergara was recently named TV's highest-paid actress, with many noting that she earns a surprising amount already for tottering around on high heels and screaming, "AY, JAY! COLOMBIAN THEENGS!" Anyway, hopefully this will all be worked out soon, before the next season of Modern Family becomes all about the kids suddenly being abandoned to starve, eventually turning on each other a la Lord Of The Flies. (Though that would be an anticipated ninth season.)