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Nicollete Sheridan takes stand in 'Desperate Housewives' trial

March 1, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Actress Nicollete Sheridan took the stand Thursday in her civil case against "Desperate Housewives" creator and executive producer Marc Cherry.

Outside the courtroom, Sheridan said "it is important" to be able to finally tell her story.

Sheridan was the first witness in the wrongful termination suit against Cherry and Touchstone Television Pictures. The actress maintains she was written out of the ABC drama because she complained about rough treatment from Cherry.

She claims Cherry hit her during rehearsals for a scene in September 2008. She demonstrated for the jury saying: "He stepped in and hit me. It was a nice wallop across the head." She testified that she responded directly, saying: "You just hit me, that is not OK. That is not OK."

Sheridan said that in the following hour, Cherry appeared at her trailer asking for her forgiveness. After asking him why he hit her, he told her he didn't know what she wanted, then he wrapped his arms around her and said he "would rewrite the scene with a funny line."

The 48-year-old actress said she complained about the treatment and was written out of the show as a result. Mark Baute, Sheridan's attorney, claims her character was killed off in 2009 only after ABC cleared Cherry of wrongdoing. Baute told jurors that the determination was made after a sham investigation and the plotline was hastily planned.

However, Cherry claims he just tapped Sheridan and was simply trying to give her instruction on the scene. Adam Levin, who represents Cherry and ABC, said the decision to kill off Sheridan's character came months before the on-set dispute and was made after consulting the highest ranks of the network's management.

Levin said Sheridan was not physically hurt following the incident and denied Baute's accusations that Cherry or other show employees tried to cover things up. Cherry's lawyers said told Eyewitness News on Thursday, "We look forward to the testimony of Mr. Cherry and many other witnesses."

In following days, a star-studded witness list is expected to take the stand. The show's stars - Eva Longoria, Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman and Marcia Cross - are all listed as potential witnesses.

On the stand, the actress described her characters as sexy and audacious. Her testimony presented a chronology of her rise in popularity until her clash with Cherry.

She said their relationship had started well. Cherry cast her first for a part only in the pilot, then signed her for the entire first season at $25,000 per episode. And by season 5, her salary was $175,000 per episode, which entitled her to additional bonuses as a key player.

The judge in the case has dismissed several of the charges lodged against Cherry and Touchstone, including sexual harassment and assault. But she has allowed Sheridan to continue suing for wrongful termination and battery.

Jurors will see clips from the show, writer's notes and diagrams of sets, as well as Sheridan's contracts and emails from studio personnel, attorneys said. Jurors must decide whether Cherry committed battery and whether he ended her contract because she complained about the incident. The trial is expected to last 14 days.

Disney is the parent company of ABC7 and Touchstone Television Productions.