For eight seasons, Marc Cherry has woven conflict, mystery and death into the story lines of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” but soon 12 jurors will be the ones supplying suspense for the veteran television writer. Deliberations in actress Nicollette Sheridan’s wrongful termination lawsuit begin this week, with the panel deciding whether they believe the actress was fired after complaining that Cherry, the series’ creator and show-runner, struck her on the set. He denies walloping her and contends her demise from the hit series was a long-planned plot point. Seven days of testimony have revealed conflicting stories that could easily have been scripted in the “Housewives” writers’ room. Jurors have watched montages and outtakes from the show, including the 48 — and counting — deaths aired since the series began in 2004. Much of the case has centered on the events in 2008, but moments after actor James Denton finished testifying, jurors heard an inadvertent spoiler about his character. Cherry has portrayed Sheridan as a polarizing figure on set, bickering with Teri Hatcher during the first season, not unlike the plot line at the time. He also testified that Eva Longoria and Felicity Huffman were “relieved” to learn in December 2008 that Sheridan’s role as Edie Britt was being eliminated. Yet he praised Sheridan as an actress who performed so well in the show’s pilot that he lobbied to make her a series regular. Jurors won’t hear directly from Longoria or Huffman after a judge deemed their testimony unnecessary. Sheridan’s departure allowed the show to save much of the $200,000 per episode she would have earned if she survived into season six. Cherry and George Perkins, an executive producer, have said “Desperate Housewives” was under pressure at the time to cut costs. If she wins, Sheridan is seeking more than $6 million.
Names in the news, March 12
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