Former Desperate Housewives star Nicollette Sheridan is suing ABC and show creator Marc Cherry for wrongful termination, and the dramatic trial is proving "better than an episode of Desperate Housewives," says Willa Paskin at New York. Sheridan's character, neighborhood vixen Edie Britt, was killed off the nighttime soap in 2009. She says the firing was unlawful, and that it unfairly robbed her of the $4.2 million she earned each year, plus residuals. As Sheridan, Cherry, and the show's other stars take the witness stand, here's a look at some of the juiciest revelations:
1. Sheridan claims Cherry hit her
Sheridan alleges that Cherry once hit her in a fit of anger, and that she was fired because the incident made it uncomfortable for him to work with her. Sheridan says Cherry lost his cool at the end of a 2008 rehearsal, after she questioned the deletion of a funny line from a scene. "It was a nice wallop across the head," Sheridan said during testimony last week. "I'm not accustomed to being hit. It was shocking, humiliating, demeaning, and it was unfathomable to me that I'd just been hit by my boss."
2. His apology was laughable
Sheridan says that after Cherry slapped her, he went to her trailer to apologize. "I'm on bended knee begging your forgiveness," she quoted him as saying. Then he hugged her and "told her he liked her new trailer design," says Paskin. Sheridan says she wasn't impressed. "I thought he could at least apologize again and send flowers."
3. Sheridan's co-stars will testify against her
Eva Longoria, Marcia Cross, Felicity Huffman, James Denton, and Neal McDonough may have played Sheridan's friends and neighbors on Wisteria Lane, but the Desperate Housewives actors won't be in her corner when they take the witness stand. The group will all be called to the stand on behalf of Cherry, and will testify against their former co-star. Each actor is expected to spend 30 minutes on the stand.
4. Housewives loves killing characters off
The defense says Edie's death wasn't unprecedented, as the show routinely sweeps characters aside to shake things up. To prove it, the defense showed a video montage of every character who has been killed off. There were roughly 43 characters, and the video was seven minutes long. Sheridan's lawyers maintain that Edie's death scene was unnecessarily gruesome. The character escapes from her husband, who was strangling her, drives away in a car, crashes into a tree, survives, gets out of the car, and steps into a puddle with a power line in it, which electrocutes her. "A triple homicide," her lawyer quipped.
5. Sheridan may be perjuring herself
Was it a hit or a slap? "I don't know why they're different!" Sheridan yelled at Marc Cherry's attorney from the witness stand. "You are such a stickler for details!" The lawyer was pressing Sheridan on discrepancies in documents she had filed in her suit: Some claim that she was "slapped" by Cherry, while others say she was "violently hit." Sheridan testified last week that she was "hit upside the head." Cherry's attorney told her that changing her testimony to "slapped" or other language could qualify as perjury. "This is ridiculous to me," Sheridan said. "Calm down, Ms. Sheridan," the judge responded. The actress then began doing breathing exercises on the stand.
6. Cherry allegedly handled other stars roughly, too
It's not just Sheridan who was manhandled by Cherry. The actress also alleges that Cherry was "prone to picking Eva [Longoria] up in the air and moving her to show her where he wanted her to stand in a scene."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- California's epic drought
- Why so many Christians won't back down on gay marriage
- 11 scientific studies that will restore your faith in humanity
- How to develop and defend smart opinions
- How to be the star of a cocktail party where you don't know anyone
Subscribe to the Week