Writers convened yesterday to begin work on the sixth season of ABC‘s Emmy-winning comedy series Modern Family. Leading the charge was co-creator/executive producer Steve Levitan, while fellow co-creator/executive producer Christopher Lloyd was a no-show. The reason — while Levitan in March closed a rich new overall deal with Modern Family producer 20th Century Fox TV, Lloyd has no deal for the show after his most recent pact expired at the end of Season 5. Talks between Lloyd’s reps and 20th TV for a new deal did not start until after Lloyd returned from a break following the late-March wrap of Season 5. He originally had been approached by the studio at the same time as Levitan but deferred deal conversations until after he was done with the season. I hear he considered a straight show deal for Modern Family without a development component but talks eventually focused on extending his overall deal with the studio. However, when the two sides finally met face-to-face before the upfronts, they were very far apart. About a month later, there has been some progress but not significant enough, leading to Lloyd’s absence from the show. He also was out today, with conversations between his camp and 20th TV ongoing and insiders cautiously optimistic. Interestingly, Lloyd showed up at the Modern Family Emmy event last week, held by 20th TV (see photo).
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Levitan and Lloyd had been partners when they created Modern Family but dissolved the partnership after Season 1. They had been working separately since, employing a model that didn’t require much interaction, with Levitan running all odd-number episodes of a season and Lloyd overseeing the even ones. Lloyd is very well liked by the writers, cast and crew of the show, and a departure of one of Modern Family‘s original two voices certainly would have an impact on the hit comedy.
Modern Family is one of the most important assets of 20th TV, commanding a rich off-network syndication deal with USA Network that fetches some $1.5 million per episode. The show is on a four-year Emmy winning streak in the best comedy series category.