Nicollette Sheridan's sex discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuit against ABC and "Desperate Housewives" series creator Marc Cherry might have just gotten stronger thanks to a declaration from one of the show's former producers, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Lori Kirkland Baker, who worked on the popular ABC series from May 2007 until May 2009 submitted a sworn declaration that supports the actress' timeline of events, asserting that the decision to kill-off Sheridan's character was first brought up in fall 2008 while Cherry's team claims that they made the decision to kill off Sheridan's character in May 2008 and told the actress in February 2009.
Sheridan filed the $20 million lawsuit last April, claiming that Cherry had hit her and fired her from the series because she is a woman. Her character, sexy Realtor Edie Britt, was killed off of the series and the actress claims Cherry hit her in the face on the Wisteria Lane set in 2008 after she questioned him about a script and then fired her in retaliation for complaining.
The validity of Sheridan's case depends on the timeline and Baker's statement could add significant weight to her case. And Kirkland Baker states that she first heard about them firing Sheridan around the time of the slapping incident.
"In fall of 2008, Mr. Cherry began talking with the writing staff, myself included, about killing off the Edie Britt character," Kirkland Baker said in her April 9 declaration, which was obtained by the Hollywood Reporter. "I have no recollection of any decision to kill off the Edie Britt character prior to fall of 2008... Mr. Cherry had expressed to the writers, in my presence, increasing frustration with Ms. Sheridan... Rather than waiting for the end of the season, he wanted to change course and, instead, have Edie Britt killed off much sooner."
Sheridan was making $175,000 per episode by the show's fifth season. Cherry's legal team will state their case at a key summary judgment hearing, which has been scheduled for May 3.
"Sheridan was obviously unhappy to lose her job as a highly-compensated star of Desperate Housewives," read the ABC/Cherry motion for summary judgment. "However, she cannot state a legal claim based on the creative decisions and actions challenged in her lawsuit."
"Desperate Housewives" actresses Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria-Parker, Felicity Huffman and Marcia Cross remained neutral regarding the charges, only saying that their work environment is not hostile.
"We have no first-hand knowledge of what Nicollette may or may not have experienced, but we would never characterize our set as a hostile environment," Hatcher, Longoria-Parker, Huffman and Cross said in a recent statement. "It is, in fact, the opposite. The friendships and support that Marc Cherry, the cast, the crew and the producers have shared for the past six years have made this a wonderful job that we are grateful for every day."
ABC has said it has found similar claims from Sheridan to be without merit.