|March 4||Trial Third Day Recap|
Nicollette Sheridan was unable to maintain her composure on the witness stand on Friday when Marc Cherry’s attorney, Adam Levin, pressed her on why some documents filed in her wrongful-termination case claimed that she was “slapped” by her former boss while others claimed she was “violently hit.”
“I don’t know why they’re different!” the former Desperate Housewives star fired back. “You are such a stickler for details!”
“Miss Sheridan, calm down, you’ll get your chance on redirect.” interjected L.A. Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White.
During cross-examination, Levin inquired as to why one complaint filed with the California Fair Employment and Housing Department stated that “Cherry, a gay man, slapped [her], a heterosexual woman,” and in a supplementary document she said she was hit.
Sheridan testified on Thursday that she was “hit upside the head”—a change in testimony that could qualify as perjury, Levin warned her. “Sorry, this is ridiculous to me,” Sheridan barked back, accusing him of “misconstruing” her deposition. “I said from the beginning that Cherry hit me,” she continued. “I am not sure why the word slapped is in there.”
The defense pursued her in questioning, suggesting that she was difficult, pestering the big boss for better lines. Sheridan said she was just trying to make the show funnier.
“Were you so intent on getting a funny line that you never considered that Marc’s dismissiveness meant that Edie did not need a funny line?” Levin wondered. “[Cherry] did not yell or shout.”
He noted that Sheridan never reported Cherry’s alleged actions to the police or human resources at ABC, but only talked to Desperate Housewives line producer George Perkins about it.
Then, just as Sheridan’s attorney played a five-minute montage of Edie’s seductive scenes over five seasons, Levin pointedly played a video montage of every character every killed off the show (48 of them), further demonstrating that Sheridan was one of many axed by the show.
Levin has argued that his client “tapped” Sheridan on the head, but did not strike her hard—and that, contrary to what Sheridan thinks, Cherry had been considering killing off Edie since season three, long before he supposedly killed her off in retribution for Sheridan complaining about him.
The defense also asserted Nicollette Sheridan was never one of the stars of Desperate Housewives. He went to great lengths to show that the actress was not of the same stature as Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman and Teri Hatcher on the hit ABC series. Levin cited pay differences; that she was not featured in a group shot in the show’s opening sequence; and that she was only nominated for a best supporting role by the Golden Globes in 2005 and never a best actress Globe or Emmy, as others on the show were.
Following the session, Sheridan’s lawyer addressed reporters, accusing Cherry’s camp of purposely riling the actress up on the stand. “I think it is total poppycock,” Baute said. Sheridan will return to the stand at 9:30 a.m. on Monday. While the defense spent 12 minutes questioning Sheridan about the degree of the alleged battery, Sheridan’s attorney, Mark Baute, maintains there is no difference between a hit and a slap under the law, saying “a hit is a hit.” He also said a request for script changes is part of the business. “Your collaborative goal is to improve the show, the women on the show should not be conditioned to be afraid to raise that view point and share that viewpoint at the risk of getting hit in the face,” Baute said.
The defense declined comment Friday but said they look forward to Cherry’s testimony. “We believe strongly in the merits of the case and we’re looking forward to an airing of the evidence,” said Cherry’s attorney, Mark Levin. Cherry said he “lightly tapped her [Sheridan's] head in giving her direction for a scene.” His defense team showed the jury a scene Sheridan shot after her continued demands for a better line in the dialogue and after the confrontation.
Next week, both sides will bring in experts. Sheridan’s witness will say producers never kill off key characters, Cherry’s expert is expected to say just the opposite.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and Desperate Housewives’ Edie Britt may not have been killed off overnight.
But while Nicollette Sheridan claims that series creator Marc Cherry and ABC decided to fire her after she claimed that Cherry had assaulted her on the set in September 2008, documents exclusively obtained by E! News suggest that Cherry was working on the ouster of Sheridan’s character for months before the alleged incident took place.
Cherry’s story outlines for the then-upcoming fifth season, dated May 14 and May 19, 2008, explicitly state that Sheridan’s character, Edie, gets killed.
“Steven kills Edie, dumps the body on the Lane. Because of Edie’s grand designs, everyone’s a suspect (proceeded by an angry homeowner’s association meeting),” reads the May 14 outline.
The May 19 notes state, “Moment where Steve misses his shot/medication. Kills Edie. Goes back on it.”
That isn’t , as Desperate Housewives fans well know, what ultimately happened to Edie: Her troubled husband (played by Neal McDonough) is actually named Dave, and after he tries to strangle her, she tries to get away in the car, swerves to avoid Orson in the street, crashes into a utility pole and is dispatched by a dangling electrical wire.
But Sheridan testified this morning that Cherry assured her as late as August 2008 that her character was safe and it wasn’t until after their fight on Sept. 28—she claims Cherry smacked her in the head—that she felt her job was threatened.
When asked about the possibility that Edie’s demise was storyboarded months before their altercation, Sheridan’s attorney called Cherry’s purported notes “baloney.”
Go to E!Online to see the documents
|March 2||Trial Second Day Recap|
Thursday session of the Desperate Housewives trial was Nicollette Sheridan’s testimony. She will also be on the stand when it resumes on Friday morning, for what is expected to be a grueling cross examination by the defendants’ lawyers. Court will only be in session for half day.
She wanted the jury to know she is not Edie Britt. “She is a character I play,” the actress said in court on the first day of testimony. “Honesty was the only thing we shared.” Sheridan, co-questioned by her co-counsel Patrick Maloney, is the first witness in a trial expected to last two weeks.
Starting with biographical questioning from Maloney and persistent objections from defense lawyer Adam Levin, Sheridan told the jury that despite missing the 2009 pilot season she has worked fairly steadily since leaving the hit ABC series in early 2009. Maloney emphasized in his questioning Sheridan’s professional attitude and how this was appreciated by the producers and network behind Desperate Housewives. The jury saw the actress’ initial contract for Desperate Housewives and the $125,000 first-season bonus Sheridan received, and also were treated to video clips of Sheridan on the show.
“That was embarrassing,” the actress said after her attorney showed the jury a five-minute montage of a number of Edie Britt’s more salacious scenes throughout her five seasons on the ABC series, including the famous carwash scene.
“She was a colorful character,” Sheridan said of Edie. “She was a singular voice on the show. She was sexy, audacious, honest and overt. She had a heart and people loved to hate her.”
During the morning session, she testified about her earlier days on the job, describing her original audition for a guest role and how she became a regular. She said after season one, producers doubled her salary and gave her a $125,000 bonus. Sheridan continued testifying that she received raises in a new contract (in the third year she got $125,000 per episode and in the fourth year she would get $150,000, then $175,000 in fifth year and $200,000 for the sixth year and $250,000 for seventh episode). At end of season three, Cherry allegedly told Sheridan that the show would end with Sheridan’s character hanging in a noose but that she would “definitely” be back, and she was. That made her firing during the show’s fifth season suspicious, she claims.
She also testified that at the beginning of season 5 the studio had picked up her option for another year, given her another raise in salary and she had been fully vested as a profit participant in the entire run of the series. At a meeting in August she said Cherry told her “he was very happy with my work in season 5 so far,” she testified.
In the afternoon, she proceed to relate the fight with Cherry on Sept. 28, 2008, that allegedly turned violent.
The scene that led to the dispute between Sheridan and Cherry was originally not meant to include the actress’ character. Because the table-read for that episode was being taped for bonus material for the DVD release, a few lines were added for her. When Sheridan read her lines at the table read, they got a laugh, she said. So she was surprised and unhappy when in a revised script her dialogue was changed. Said scene had Britt needling her on-screen husband about how to write a love song.
The actress told the Los Angeles Superior Court that she wanted a funny line to remain in the script, but Cherry resisted because it included part of a Beatles song, for which the studio would have to pay royalties.
When she asked if he would write her a good exit line, “He got agitated and annoyed and didn’t respond.” When she approached him again, after rehearsal, he “got agitated” again and, when she led him away from the group, he responded testily, “What is it you want?” Sheridan testifed, mimicking Cherry’s sharp, loud voice. She said she offered to explain her request again but she was cut off.
“Cherry stepped toward me and with his right hand he hit me upside the head,” Sheridan said, adding that her head jerked and she was stunned. “I couldn’t believe he just hit me, and I looked at him and I could tell he was stunned.” ”I’m not accustomed to being hit,” Sheridan said with tears in her eyes. “You hit me in the head! That is not OK. That is not OK,” Sheridan claims she told Cherry right after he allegedly struck her. Sheridan, aided by her co-counsel Patrick Maloney, twice re-enacted for the jury. “It was a nice wallop”, she said, her voice breaking.
A later script called for her to strike him with a magazine. Maloney showed jurors various versions of the script. When asked by her lawyer why she returned to the set, she n said, “I pride myself on being a professional. I wasn’t going to let everybody else down.
Sheridan said she then rode a van back to her trailer with co-star Neal McDonough, who played her husband. “Neal said if I saw him I would have hit him back,” Sheridan testified. She also told her lawyer Neil Meyer. McDonough stayed with her in her trailer until he was called to wardrobe, she said. Then Cherry arrived to see her. “On the doorstep, he said, ‘I am on bended knee begging your forgiveness,’ ” she testified. “I said, ‘Why would you do that? He wrapped his arms around me and apologized again. Then he changed the subject.”
In February 2009, Sheridan said she was summoned to what was described as “a fun” meeting with the Housewives writers. She finally found Cherry in his office with several other producers and an ABC executive. “I said, ‘What’s going on?’ ” she recalled. Cherry directed her to take a seat. She noticed the others in the room had their heads hung low. She recalled Cherry looked “Very nervous. His hands were shaking” uncharacteristically.
“He said he had decided Edie Britt was going to die,” Sheridan testified. Cherry said her character would be killed in a car crash. “I asked why? He said he wanted to shake thigs up. I was stunned.”
Sheridan said she got up and left and drove home. “It felt like an out of body experience.” She said she had no idea at the time that the decision had actually been made months earlier to kill her off.
Cherry’s lawyers claim he had already decided to drop her character in May 2008, four months before the incident, but Sheridan says she was assured in 2007 that her character would continue for the duration of the show.
Cherry is expected to testify next week.
|March 1||Trial First Day Recap|
As I type this, Nicollette is testifying in which marks the second day of her trial for wrongful termination against Mark Cherry and ABC. But let’s make a little recap of what happened yesterday, after the jury was finally selected.
It’s been reported the jury is made of 15 jurors, 6 men and 9 women; only 6 of them are white and all are middle-aged or older. Only 12 of them will decided but they don’t know who they are. Then it was turn of the opening statements.
First turn was for the plaintiffs and it was during Mark Baute’s opening that the actress broke down and started crying as her lawyer described the alleged assault, and threw herself in his arms after the jury left the room.
“Ms. Sheridan is taking this on alone in a town where nobody takes on a television network,” Mark Baute told the jury, she is is “courageously fighting this battle by herself.” Cherry “hit Ms. Sheridan hard” during an argument on Sept. 24, 2008, Baute said—a gesture that stunned his client and left her asking Cherry repeatedly why he had become violent.
Baute alleged that ABC learned of what happened after Mark Pedowitz (former president of ABC Studios and top ABC business affairs executive) sees the National Enquirer article while grocery shopping. He immediately called his people to find out why he wasn’t told of this incident and asks for an investigation. Two months later, HR launches an investigation in which they never interview Sheridan or Cherry and exonerate the “money machine known as Desperate Housewives.”
Thanks to Cherry and ABC allying against her, Baute continued, Sheridan lost “the most lucrative job of her career”—and he plans to prove it during the course of the trial, he added. For instance, he said, 47 minor characters have been killed off from Desperate Housewives over seven seasons, but not one of the original principals, other than his client, ever met the same fate.
And in a “poorly written episode” at that, Baute alleged.
“Bottom line,” Baute concluded, “this was retaliatory termination by someone who knew what he wanted to do, when he wanted to do it.”
Cherry’s attorney, meanwhile, argued that the Desperate Housewives creator merely decided to kill off Edie Brit once her storyline had run its course and “it was time for Edie to die.” “There were only so many husbands she could sleep with,” Adam Levin said.
“For a television show to last more than a few episodes, writers must continue to shock and surprise the audience who is wanting more,” Levin told the court. “People die a lot on TV, which can lead to water-cooler talk and media exposure.”
“Ms. Sheridan worked on Desperate Housewives for five seasons and then her character was killed off,” Levin said, also noting that Cherry considered getting rid of Edie during season three but ultimately envisioned more action for her character. “Ms. Sheridan is obviously unhappy. But she was not wrongfully terminated, nor was she battered.”
The alleged incident on Sept. 24, 2008, Levin said, “left no injury and no mark and she took no aspirin. In fact, her first call after the incident was to check her voicemail.”
After the session Baute told E! News about Nicollette’s crying, “She was not acting. She clearly was shaken up.”
Sheridan’s attorney said that a number of the series’ former writers will be testifying for her, Levin’s witness list includes Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman and James Denton.
And, while she’s declined all interviews, she did respond to a photographer who asked, “How do you feel about some of your Housewives co-stars testifying against you?” Her response in classic Edie fashion, “Who says they’re testifying against me.” Door slam.
|February 29||Jury Selection Still Underway|
A jury has still not been seated in the case, and selection will resume tomorrow at 1:30 PM once the potential juror panel has been replenished. Once selection is completed, opening statements will begin. However, with Judge Elizabeth Allen White being strict about ending proceedings at 4:15 PM, it is unlikely opening statements will get far. Sheridan and Cherry were present in court all day Tuesday.
While the session didn’t result in a seated jury, it did offer some very non-focus group insights into how ABC and TV in general are perceived.
The majority of those questioned said they did not watch “Desperate Housewives,” but several said they watched ABC’s “Modern Family” and CBS’s “NCIS” and several expressed disdain for reality programming,
Sheridan’s attorney Mark Baute told one potential juror, a truck driver, that he was “shocked” that he has never watched “Desperate Housewives.”
“How much TV do you watch?” Baute asked.
“Tons,” said the man. He said that he liked “Two and Half Men.”
When Baute asked if it was before or after Charlie Sheen left, the man said he watched both, then offered a mini-review.
“It’s just as stupid now as it was then,” he said. “I don’t watch for inspiration. I watch for entertainment.”
Asked what he knew about Nicollette Sheridan, he replied that, “I know that she’s blonde.”
He was dismissed.
A retired psychiatric nurse declared her love of the news and sports on TV, but allowed that she did like “Dancing Under The Stars.” She was dismissed, too.
And in an apparent bid to determine if one potential juror knew that ABC was owned by Disney, Baute asked “Do you associate Disney with mouse ears or a conglomerate?”
Sheridan could take the stand on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday, depending on when a jury is seated.
At the end of the day, the judge instructed the potential jurors. “Don’t go on the Internet. Don’t go home and watch ‘Desperate Housewives’ — if you can find it.”
Judge White says she expects the trial to conclude no later than March 12, so they should pick a jury soon if they really want the trial to last 11 days.
Stars of the show included on the defense’s witness list are: Marcia Cross, James Denton, Felicity Huffman, Eva Longoria and Neal McDonough. All of them will testify for 30 minutes (plus cross examination from Sheridan’s lawyers), while Cherry will do it for 4 hours and Nicollette for 8.
The actress faces off with executive producer Marc Cherry in a juicy court case that starts today and promises competing testimony about whether Cherry hit Sheridan and to reveal many behind-the-scenes secrets from the TV series.
Sheridan’s suing and claiming that the only reason her character, Edie, died is that she dared to complain that Cherry had hit her across the head during a rehearsal. Cherry is fighting this, saying he lightly tapped her on the head during a rehearsal, and that firing her or “not renewing her option” – the euphemism commonly used in the industry for getting rid of someone – was planned in advance of the infamous Sept. 24, 2008, rehearsal.
What really happened will be up to a jury of 12 to determine, despite Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White’s repeated efforts to have the case settled. White has already thrown out Sheridan’s sexual-harassment claims, ruled that her lawyers cannot bring up Cherry’s alleged rude behavior toward others, and limited Sheridan’s damages to one year salary. Sheridan earned $4.2 million and residuals in the fifth season, according to the court file. (If she wins, she will be entitled to punitive damages as well).
But Sheridan has persevered with the wrongful-termination and battery claims she filed in April 2010, and jury selection begins today. Here’s a guide to what you can expect, as the court documents obtained by The Daily Beast tell it.
1. There are two central issues in the trial, (expected to last a maximum of 11 days). The first is whether Cherry struck Sheridan out of anger on Sept. 24, 2008. The second is whether he fired her in retaliation for her complaint to ABC. Much of the testimony will revolve around the timing of Cherry’s decision to get rid of Edie Britt, Sheridan’s character.
2. The judge has turned down NBC News’s request for cameras in the courtroom because it would be “too disruptive,” according to her order. (In other words, you’re stuck with us if you want the bloody details).
3. Sheridan’s legal team—Mark D. Baute, Patrick M. Maloney, and Sean A. Andrade—will call 16 witnesses.
4. Cherry’s lawyers—Adam Levin and Aaron M. Wais—will double that and question 32.
5. Sheridan’s lawyers estimate she will testify for eight hours. They also will call several Desperate Housewives writers and producers, former ABC president Steve McPherson, former ABC Studios chief Mark Pedowitz (who is now the president of the CW network), ABC Studios executives, her publicist, Nicole Perna, and her entertainment lawyer, Neil Meyer.
6. Cherry’s list includes all the lead actors on the show, a few of the same writers and producers being called by Sheridan, McPherson, Pedowitz, and veteran writer-producer Neal Baer, who now runs A Gifted Man and has never worked on Desperate Housewives, as an expert witness.
7. Executive producers Robert Daily and Sabrina Wind are being called as witnesses for both sides, but they have both vouched for Cherry in their depositions. They stated that they met with Cherry and Pedowitz on May 22, 2008, to discuss killing off Edie Britt.
8. Executive producers Jeff Greenstein and George Perkins, also called by both legal teams, have stood by Sheridan in their depositions. Greenstein has stated that he attended a meeting on May 22, 2008, and the subject of killing off Edie never came up. Sheridan called Perkins after the rehearsal incident to tell him what happened.
9. Former producer Lori Kirkland Baker will be called by Sheridan’s team to testify that Cherry had expressed “increased frustration” with Sheridan to the writers around the time the actress claimed he slapped her. Then, in December 2008, Cherry told the writing staff that he met with McPherson and had decided to kill off Edie at the end of the fifth season, but had changed his mind and decided to kill off the character sooner.
10. Cherry’s lawyers expect he will testify for four hours. In his deposition, Cherry called the firing of Sheridan a “cost-cutting measure” and said he made the decision in May 2008.
Read the complete article here
|February 16||Nicollette Sheridan And Marc Cherry Head To Court|
As Desperate Housewives executive producer Marc Cherry plans for the finale of his ABC hit, a jury of 12 will write the ending of Wisteria Lane’s most sordid story: did Cherry hit actress Nicollette Sheridan in the face and fire her after she complained?
After two trial delays, Sheridan, 48, will finally get her $20 million day in court on Feb. 27 to face off with Cherry and ABC Studios about their decision to kill off her character in an episode in March 2009. Los Angeles Superior Judge Elizabeth Allen White, who threw out Sheridan’s sexual-harassment claim last year and has encouraged a settlement on numerous occasions, has refused to dismiss the wrongful-termination claim, saying the issues are not as “clear-cut” as Cherry’s defense team depicts them.
Cherry denies striking Sheridan and will testify that plans to kill off Edie Britt, Sheridan’s character, were in place as early as July 2008. He will claim the actress was rude and difficult and had trouble remembering her lines. Sheridan was notified in February 2009 that viewers would see Edie die the following month, and she will depict Cherry as an “abusive” and “overly aggressive” boss.
The lawsuit centers around an incident on Sept. 24, 2008, in which Sheridan says she approached Cherry to ask him why a line she found funny was removed from her dialogue. Sheridan says he answered abruptly and walked away from her toward two other actors. After the rehearsal, she said she asked Cherry again.
“When we neared the kitchen, he stopped and asked, ‘What is you want?’ I started to say, ‘I’ll tell you again,’ and at that second, he stepped towards me and hit me hard on the head with his open hand,” Sheridan said in a deposition. “It was a hard hit. My head jerked. After Marc Cherry hit me, I was stunned. I could not believe what had just happened. I told Marc, ‘You just hit me on the head, that’s not OK. That is not OK.’” According to Sheridan, Cherry came to her trailer half an hour later to apologize to her.
In a December 2008 letter, the executive vice president of ABC Studios, Howard M. Davine, wrote that the studio’s investigation showed that Cherry tapped the side of Sheridan’s head to direct her for a scene and later apologized to her for upsetting her. Sheridan was informed four months later that she was being fired, but when that decision was actually made by Cherry and ABC Studios is an essential issue in the case.
The saga will offer a rare insider’s look into the making of a hit television show that became an instant phenomenon and put 40-something women on the sexy map again. It will also offer delicious details of the personalities of the writers, producers, and actors of a series infamous for its divas. Forced to take sides, some producers, who still work there, have vouched for Cherry in their depositions, while others have stood by Sheridan. At a final pretrial hearing on Wednesday, it was revealed that even other prominent producers, who have never set foot on Wisteria Lane, will be dragged into the mud.
Cherry’s lawyers will depose veteran showrunner and TV scribe Neal Baer (A Gifted Man, Law & Order: SVU, ER) on Thursday and want to call him to the stand during the trial as an expert who can attest to a preposterous notion put forth by Cherry’s lawyers—that showrunners make creative decisions about their shows without input from the network or studio. Sheridan’s lawyers, in turn, want an ABC business-affairs lawyer to testify that the network and studio are definitely involved, especially when it comes to contract renewals with actors.
The actress’s lawyers also argued that Baer is not a suitable witness because he has helmed procedural dramas, whereas Desperate Housewives is a serial, “and networks generally speaking do not kill off the lead character” of serialized shows. Apparently, Sheridan and her lawyers need to spend some time catching up with other ABC serialized series, like Grey’s Anatomy, Lost, and Private Practice, which have killed off lead characters.
|February 16||Jury Selection Begins|
Told by attorneys today that a settlement is unlikely, a judge scheduled jury selection for Feb. 27 in former “Desperate Housewives” star Nicollette Sheridan’s lawsuit alleging the show’s creator hit her on the head with an open hand on the set in 2008 and fired her when she complained.
Sheridan, 48, filed her suit in April 2010 against Marc Cherry, ABC and Touchstone Television Productions. She alleges Cherry hit her hard with an open hand after she questioned a change in a script.
During today’s final status conference, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White said she wanted a joint list with the estimated time each witness is expected to testify. She said she hopes the case can be tried in a maximum of 10 days.
“We need to be able to fit this case into a rather short time frame,” White said.
Both sides have submitted individual tentative witness lists. Between them. the lists include Cherry, Sheridan and her former castmates Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman and Eva Longoria. The attorneys declined to say whether they actually expect the other actresses to be called to testify.
In court papers, defense attorneys said Cherry decided to eliminate Sheridan’s character in May 2008.
According to the defense filing, “characters die on television series all the time” and “death is as much a part of scripted television as it is a part of life. Of course, whenever a character dies, an actor loses a job. That is what happened here.”
White deferred until the trial date a final ruling on a defense motion to exclude testimony on behalf of Sheridan by Richard Olshansky, a lawyer and former executive vice president of NBC Universal Network Business Affairs.
Olshansky has said it is “virtually unprecedented in the history of network television to kill off a lead character in a successful comedy,” according to Sheridan’s court papers.
Attorney Patrick Maloney, on behalf of Sheridan, said Olshanksy’s testimony is needed to rebut defense testimony by “ER” co-producer Neal Baer concerning the creative thinking behind eliminating characters from a show.
Defense attorney Aaron Wais countered that Olshansky is a business affairs attorney and is not qualified to offer such testimony.
White said her initial impression is that the defense argument is proper.
“Mr. Olshansky doesn’t seem to have anything in his background to be able to say what creative outcome should be given his background,” White said.
Sheridan’s assertion that her complaint against Cherry in September 2008 led to her firing is undercut by the evidence of the earlier decision to eliminate her character from the show, according to defense lawyers.
|January 15||2012 TCA Winter Press Tour|
Nicollette attended the Hallmark Evening Gala for the 2012 Tour Critics Association Winter Press Tour. She looks lovely in black, don’t you think?
|December 29||OK! Magazine January 2012|
Nicollette and Oliver will be featured on the January 9 edition of OK! Magazine in the US. Don’t forget to buy your copy.
I have also added the cover of Cosmopolitan back in 1984.