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'Desperate Housewives' trial: Nicollette Sheridan wraps up testimony, creator Marc Cherry takes stand

Nicollette Sheridan appears in a still from 'Desperate Housewives.' (ABC)

March 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
There were more fireworks in the "Desperate Housewives" trial on Monday. Nicollette Sheridan and creator Marc Cherry both took the stand, presenting differing accounts of why she was fired from the show.

Sheridan's character Edie Britt was an original cast member of "Desperate Housewives," but was killed off in season 5. The actress filed a $6 million wrongful termination and battery lawsuit against Cherry and Touchstone Television Productions, claiming she was fired from the ABC series after she complained that Cherry hit her in the face with an open hand during show rehearsals in September 2008.

"Marc Cherry retaliated against her," said Sheridan's attorney Mark Baute. "Long-term characters where the show is a proven comedy, where the fans have an appointment with that character, to watch that character, don't get killed off."

The disagreement reportedly revolved around a line in a script. Attorneys for Cherry and ABC Television have denied the allegations. He claims he was giving her artistic direction and tapped her lightly on the head with his fingertips. He also said he went to the actress' dressing room shortly after the incident to apologize.

Cherry also testified that he received permission from ABC executives to kill Sheridan's character four months before the dispute. His attorneys said 47 actors were killed-off during the show's eight seasons. They also argued that network executives wanted to cut costs as the show's ratings declined, and that Cherry wanted to take the show in a new direction before the alleged altercation.

Cherry said Sheridan's unprofessional behavior on the set was also a factor. He testified that her behavior was not the "primary reason for my decision, but it was something that I was aware of." But under cross examination, Cherry admitted there were no emails or letters documenting his concerns about Sheridan's behavior. Nor was he aware of emails documenting his talks with network executives about the show's new direction.

"So their position is 'yeah we terminated a $4 million-a-year actress with backing participation and a five-minute conversation, and for nine months straight we don't have a single document, documenting that decision anywhere,'" said Baute.

Sheridan told jurors she didn't give Cherry permission to strike her. And her attorneys said that ABC and its parent corporation, Disney, never investigated her complaint.

Attorneys for Cherry and ABC said they paid Sheridan $175,000 per episode, including the four episodes following her termination. Both ABC and Disney are not commenting on the pending litigation.

Cherry is expected to take the stand again on Tuesday.

Disney is the parent company of the show's production company, Touchstone Television Productions, and ABC7.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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