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ABC chief says ‘Modern Family’ pay dispute will be resolved

By Meg James, Los Angeles Times –

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — The high-profile “Modern Family” battle over pay between several key actors and the studio producing television’s No. 1 comedy will be resolved, ABC’s entertainment chief said Friday.

“I expect the season to start on time,” ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee told television writers at the Television Critics Assn. gathering in Beverly Hills. “We are in the middle of negotiations, and we are hopeful and optimistic that we will be able to resolve it.”

The salary dispute exploded earlier this week when several of the actors — Sofia Vergara, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell — failed to show up for a table read and promptly filed a lawsuit, claiming their contracts are illegal.

Lee said Friday that the show’s cast has since performed the reading. The show, which is headed into the fourth season, is produced by 20th Century Fox Television and ABC.

“We are in this with 20th Century. We are full partners with them,” Lee said, indicating that ABC was participating financially in the show’s economics, including pay for the performers.

A Florida writer asked Lee why the struggle, involving actors for such an important show to the network, flared out of control so quickly. Lee declined to answer the question, saying only, “I don’t want to talk about specifics of negotiations, but it’s a wonderful show, great cast, and we are optimistic.”

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