The cast and crew of Modern Family, winner of the award for outstanding comedy series, pose backstage at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, September 23, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
The cast of Modern Family conspired to spoof itself in a pre-taped bit during the Emmy Awards last Sunday.
The six main adult cast members -- Ed O'Neill, Sofia Vergara, Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Julie Bowen -- were seated together, talking about how they love each other like, well, a modern family.
That's when Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, the five-year-old actress who plays Lily, burst into the room.
"What's going on here?" wee Anderson-Emmons bellowed. "I know it's not a table read, because all of you showed up."
The overall bit was a send-up of Anderson-Emmons, who was presented as a high-maintenance monster on set. But the "table read" zinger was an interesting acknowledgment.
The fourth season of Modern Family debuts Wednesday on ABC and Citytv, and to the surprise of no one, the series is coming off its third straight victory at the Emmys for outstanding comedy series. Both Stonestreet and Bowen won individual Emmys on Sunday, too.
If that's all you know, everything sounds wonderful, right?
But in this world of round-the-clock entertainment news, most fans of the show are fully aware there was a nasty salary dispute over the summer as Modern Family's adult cast banded together to demand a bigger piece of the rich pie.
The adult cast boycotted the first table read of the fourth season. It was a big news story in the TV world.
With the dispute now technically over, poking fun during the Emmys was the cast's way of saying, "We aren't bad, greedy people, it's OK to laugh at us again."
To that end, the new season begins with an episode titled Bringing Up Baby.
Jay (O'Neill) is celebrating his 65th birthday, and he wants to have a quiet day, but his wife Gloria (Vergara) is trying to figure out how to break some life-altering news. Meanwhile, Jay's son-in-law Phil (Burrell) has planned a surprise fishing trip.
So will Modern Family move forward as if nothing has happened? Is it all smiles and sunshine?
Well, during ABC's red-carpet coverage at the Emmys, Ferguson was shown a copy of a Modern Family book that apparently has just come out.
"No! This is insane," Ferguson said. "Like they need more money. They need to make more money off the show."
Ferguson was asked, "Do you know how much of that (book money) you'll be getting?"
"Yeah," Ferguson answered. "ZERO."
It was meant to be funny, yes. But there was palpable bitterness.
Many successful series with big ensemble casts wind up in contract disputes after a few seasons. But if there are bad vibes off camera, they can't seep into the good vibes on camera, because people pick up on that.
Here's hoping Modern Family keeps the biz away from the show.
Brian Williams: Gangster rapper Brian Williams has proven himself to be a man of many talents. He's the respected anchor of NBC Nightly News, he makes beautiful children (his daughter Allison plays Marnie Michaels on Girls) and has a wit so sharp, he was asked to host Saturday Night ... Read more