Stars of 'Modern Family' reach contract deal
FILE - This Sept. 18, 2011 file photo shows Ty Burrell, left, Julie Bowen from the television series "Modern Family" holding their Emmys for best supporting and actress actress in a comedy, backstage at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. Five stars of the hit ABC series sued 20th Century Fox Television on Tuesday July 24, 2012, claiming their contracts with the studio are illegal under California law and should be invalidated. (AP Photo/Jae Hong, file)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The stars of "Modern Family" have reached new contracts to keep working on the Emmy-winning comedy, ending a dispute that had threatened to spill over into a courtroom.
A 20th Century Fox spokesman confirmed Friday evening that the deals had been reached and that shooting on the ABC series' fourth season will begin Monday.
The deals cover stars Sofia Vergara, Ed O'Neill, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
Five of the actors sued Fox on Tuesday, asking a judge to rule their contracts on the hit show are illegal and should be invalidated. O'Neill joined the case later in the week.
Executive producer Christopher Lloyd said the lawsuit wouldn't have interfered with production but it is "great to have that not hanging over our head." He said there would be no ill will on the set because the situation was resolved quickly and the show has a "charmed setup."
"Modern Family," a popular comedy that airs on ABC, has won Emmy Awards for outstanding Comedy Series the past two years. Several of the stars, including Burrell, Bowen and Stonestreet have won individual Emmys for their work on the show.
The show was recently nominated for 14 Emmy Awards, the most of any sitcom.
FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2012 file photo, Eric Stonestreet arrives on the red carpet at the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles. Five stars of the hit ABC series sued 20th Century Fox Television on Tuesday July 24, 2012, claiming their contracts with the studio are illegal under California law and should be invalidated. (AP Photo/Vince Bucci, File)
The lawsuit, which claimed the actors' contracts were illegal because they bound them to the show for more than seven years, will be dropped. Exact terms of the deal were not released.
"The particular grounds for the lawsuit are debatable," Lloyd said. "It was a tactic in negotiations. I don't think it was ever taken that seriously.
"It was a step along the way. I think personally our actors got some bad advice," he said, quickly adding: "I have nothing negative to say about our actors."
Asked if the standoff could have been avoided, he replied: "It could have been avoided if Fox and ABC wanted to overpay. It could have been avoided if the actors asked for less than they probably deserve." But neither side wanted to back down.
"I don't know the terms of (the deal), probably both sides feel it didn't end up where they wanted it to end up and that's usually the sign it was a well-executed negotiation," he said.
AP Television Writers Lynn Elber and Frazier Moore contributed to this report.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP