Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
In a fun PaleyFest finale tonight, Modern Family co-creator Steve Levitan declared that even if he had the chance, he wouldn’t switch from the grueling 24-episode-per-season broadcast schedule at ABC to the far less taxing 12 or 13 episodes found in cable. Why? “Because of the kids (on the show),” Levitan admitted. “They’re growing. We tried to stop it and it’s not working. For that reason alone, we want to get as many stories in as we can while they’re going through these years. So we’re going to try to maintain this pace for as long as we can.”
During the the panel, moderated by Variety’s Cynthia Littleton, which was an even mix of earnest and silly, co-stars Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet expressed their gratitude in being permitted to portray such a positive gay couple. “I think we’ve shown that you don’t need to be a man and a woman to give a baby a healthy, happy, loving home,” Stonestreet said. “There was also one teenage kid who wrote me, ‘I just want you to know that I finally had the courage to come out to my mom because of you guys. And mom’s response was, ‘Well, are you Mitch or Cam?’’ ”Added Levitan: “The greatest stories we hear are from gay teens that never talk to their parents but now are watching the show with them, and are finding acceptance because of it.” But Ferguson cautioned that he looks forward to the day “when this is not considered a revolutionary couple.”
Perhaps the highlight of the evening, however, came at the very end, when a trio of teenage girls in the audience prefaced their question by noting they were supposed to be home doing their homework. They wondered if someone in the cast might be able to write them an excuse for school. “Come on up!” offered co-star Julie Bowen, who plays mom Claire Dunphy on the show. The girls sprinted to the stage, pen and paper in hand, and came away with their signed slip for the teacher.