|March 8||Trial Sixth Day Recap|
On Wednesday session, Cherry continued his deposition questioned, this time, by his own lawyer. Then it was turn for former writer and co-executive producer Lori Kirkland Baker, who has always backed Nicollette’s timeline of events and EP Sabrina Wind, Cherry’s “right hand gal”.
The Desperate Housewives creator resumed his testimony asnwering more questions about the timeline of the decision to kill off Sheridan’s character Edie Brit. Cherry continued to claim that the main reason he decided to kill off the Britt character was “creative”, because “the purpose of the character was over” by Season 5. But Cherry said financial considerations and concerns about Sheridan’s “egregious” and “unprofessional” behavior also factored into his decision; that seemingly contradicts testimony Tuesday from former ABC Studios president Mark Pedowitz, who told the court killing off the Britt character was a purely “creative” matter. Pressed for specifics Wednesday, Cherry cited Sheridan making remarks about scripts that were “insulting” to writers, a time she was seemingly unprepared for a scenes, and he specifically talked about a clash during Season One between Sheridan and Hatcher, “In the first season, I was called to the set because there was a problem between Nicollette Sheridan and Teri Hatcher. They were shooting a scene for when they dumped Martha Huber’s ashes. They were furious with one another. Nicollette said she thought Teri Hatcher was the meanest woman in the world for how she was treating her. I was shocked by Nicollette’s behavior, because I had seen her upsetting co-stars.” He thought Britt’s death would give the show “some juice” and “open up” possibilities for new characters. The defense also introduced various sets of writer’s assistant’s notes and other bullet-point documents, dated May 14, 19 and 22 of 2008, that mentioned “Edie’s death” as a part of that season’s storylines. Cherry told the court that while some storylines and ideas were abandoned as the season progressed, he never wavered in his plan to kill off Britt, especially after he received permission from Pedowitz and then-ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson on May 22, 2008.
Lori Kirkland Baker testified that she never saw a supposed writer’s index card saying “Steve drinks OJ,” until January 2009 and there was not talking of killing Edie in the Vegas writers retreat. At that retreat, the plan for Edie was to return to Wisteria Lane with a new husband and they’d buy a lot of houses (story that was later used for character Paul Young) and the body dumped on the street was going to be a stranger. Baker, who was with the show from 2007-09, also said Cherry first announced his plans in December 2008, after “just being given permission by Steve McPherson to kill off the Edie Britt character.” She recalled hearing about the hit when National Enquirer printed the story that Sabrina Wind said “this is not going to go well for Nicollette.” Then, in January 2009, Cherry walked in to the writers room and said he had changed his mind and Edie would die on 518 instead of the finale. Baker said she was surprised “It felt like it was just getting stuck into any old episode. Didn’t seem like we were building to something special.” She doesn’t recall whose idea it was to do strangulation/car crash/electrocution death. Baker also said she didn’t think the show would actually kill Edie because “I believed Edie Britt to be a popular character.” She was not asked about hitting incident.
Next on stand was Sabrina Wind, a Desperate Housewives producer and Cherry’s self-described “right-hand gal,” who contradicted several statements her boss made during his testimony. Wind, visibly nervous, said she could not recall getting a call from Cherry shortly after the alleged head-hitting incident between him and Sheridan on September 24, 2008. Sheridan’s lawyer Mark Baute then read from Wind’s deposition last year, in which she said she “did not” receive a call from Cherry as he previously testified. She said the first she heard of the incident was when Cherry later returned to the writers room, after he had already apologized to Sheridan. Wind also said she was the one who, along with another producer, notified ABC human resources about the Sheridan incident right after it happened. However, she said she did not know anything about the investigation that cleared Cherry until it was over; and did not keep him informed. Wind, who is Cherry’s partner in Cherry/Wind Productions, also said she knew of no discussions about financial savings or “unprofessional behavior” on Sheridan’s part as reasons for killing off the actress’ character though she did indicate there were discussions about Sheridan’s professional competence. Most of her testimony was “don’t recall” or “don’t remember.” She returns to stand today along with director Larry Shaw.
Mark Baute said testimony by Lori Kirkland Baker was “devastating” to the other side. He also said the testimony at the end of the day by Sabrina Wind, an executive producer on the show and Cherry’s partner in a production company, showed that Cherry and ABC are lying about what really happened during a 2008 altercation that Sheridan believes led to her firing from the hit show. Baute’s law partner Patrick Maloney, who led the questioning of that witness, said Baker’s “story didn’t vary” from what she said in her earlier deposition. “There’s a moment in a trial which is an inflection point when everything changes,” said Baute, suggesting Baker represented such a moment. “You could feel the goose bumps,” he added. “It’s the first testimony that shows the corporation was willing to lie.”
After court concluded for the day, defense attorney Adam Levin issued this statement: ”Three witnesses have testified on behalf of the defense that the final decision to kill Ms. Sheridan’s character was made in May of 2008. One witness has testified for the plaintiff under perjury and penalty that she wasn’t in the room when the discussions took place.”
While different actors from the show are on the witness list, it’s likely they won’t be called to testify. Judge Allen White wants to wrap things up as soon as possible, and the witness lists are long so only those with something to add will be called. However seems like James Denton will be the only actor taking the stand. Sheridan’s attorney, Mark Baute, told RumorFix, “I don’t think that James Denton knows anything about the case. I’ll just have to see if they actually bring him to court.”
Friday will be the day almost everyone has been waiting for, former ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson is slated to testify on Friday at 1:30 PM. Another interesting witness is producer George Perkins, who, at the very least, has heard both sides of the story and seems to be in the known of what happened.
I keep thinking that, for a character that had only done one thing (stealing other people’s husbands), there were more things she could do if they really wanted to expand said character. And as The Daily Beast reporter mentions, it’ll be interesting if someone asks Marc Cherry why he told almost everybody Edie was being killed off but not the actress protraying her.
|March 7||Trial Fifth Day Recap|
On yesterday session Marc Cherry was supossed to continue his testimony but instead it was turn for TV expert Richard Olshansky, Nicollette’s entertainment lawyer Neil Meyer and former ABC Studios president Mark Pedowitz. The most important testimony was the latter, which, truth be told, didn’t do any favors to Nicollette’s case; who in these last days has been accompanied in court by her boyfriend and her best friend.
First on stand was Neil Meyer. He testified that after he was called about the hit, he contacted Howard Davine, the business affairs executive at ABC Studios that handles contracts. He told him that Sheridan was “extremely upset” and relayed her version of events. Meyer said: “It must have been pretty bad because she wouldn’t just call me.” He also said Sheridan wasn’t looking for any action because “she was concerned about retribution from Mr Cherry and he had apologized and she wanted to put her head down and go back to work.” Meyer just wanted to make Davine aware of the incident. “We weren’t asking ABC/Disney to do anything because Nicollette was concerned about retribution from Mr. Cherry,” Meyer said. “She was concerned if we brought this up, her job would be in jeopardy.“ “She told me Mr. Cherry was a very vindictive man,” her attorney added, a remark that the judge then struck from the official record at the request of Cherry’s lawyer. Meyer said his client was worried not just about herself but also that Cherry might do the same thing to others. “She was very concerned that if it could happen to her, it could happen to other people,” he testified.
Davine sent Meyer a letter in December 2008 saying he had investigated and determined it was a minor incident in which Cherry lightly tapped her as an instruction and the matter was closed. Meyer says he didn’t respond because the letter was self-serving and Sheridan was not looking for anything to actually be done. Davine never informed Meyer that a decision to kill of Sheridan had already been made as Cherry claims. When Sheridan called Meyer to tell him she’d been fired in February 2009, he was shocked. “It struck me as retaliatory.” He called Davine again: “Really? You fired her?” Davine didn’t engage him in conversation but wanted to know if their professional relationship was ok.
As a business lawyer, Meyer says it makes no sense that if a decision has been made to kill off a character in May 2008 that the actor’s contract would be renewed for a year requiring network to pay $4million no matter how many episodes she is in.
He also testified that he has not been able to get her an acting job “for several years” in the wake of her firing from Desperate Housewives. He revealed Sheridan’s difficulty finding an agent or employment.
Sheridan’s attorney Mark Baute then called Richard Olshansky to the stand as an expert witness. Olshansky was exec vice-president of business affairs at NBC from 2004 to 2009. He worked with shows including “30 Rock,” “Law and Order” and “Parks and Recreation” testified that it was extremely unusual for a comedy show to kill of a main character. “It’s virtually unprecedented as far as I can tell, for a lead character in a comedy to be killed off in a show,” Olshansky said. He then explained how hard it is for a TV show to even get on the air, saying that for every 100 scripts commissioned, one makes it on the air. “Once you get something that works, you tend to not want to mess with it,” Olshansky said, and noted that there were other reasons for not killing off a main character. “The audience tends to form a bond with various characters, so when you take a character off the board,” Olshansky testified, “you are effectively alienating some portion of the audience that you may nor may not be able to get back.”
And last, but definitely not least, was Mark Pedowitz’s turn. He said he “was not pleased” to first hear about the alleged on-set incident between Cherry and Sheridan from the National Enquirer. “That would be an understatement.” Pedowitz said his role on Desperate Housewives during his time at ABC was to “oversee the creative, the business and the production for the studio.” He answered plaintiffs lawyers’ questions in a concise, clipped manner, was seen earlier in the day in the halls shaking hands and laughing with Cherry and his lawyers; but also greeted the actress with an embrace, “Hey, sweetheart, how are you?”
While claiming he had never heard of the “Steve drinks OJ” reference for killing Edie, he confirmed Cherry’s testimony than he aproved Edie’s death in May 2008. Pedowitz said that he signed off on Edie Britt’s death during a meeting with Cherry and then-president of ABC Entertainment, Steve McPherson, on May 22, 2008—four months before Cherry supposedly hit Sheridan on the head during an argument on set, as Sheridan alleges. “Who ultimately was the one who killed off Edie Britt from ABC Studios?” inquired Cherry’s attorney, Adam Levin. Replied Pedowitz: “I did. [Edie] was a main series regular and it required the network studio to sign off” on her character’s exit, he explained. Pedowitz said that he was the one who told Cherry, when he approached the exec about killing Edie in season three, that “there was more storytelling left” for Sheridan’s character. But while Cherry testified yesterday that Sheridan’s Edie was killed off for creative, financial and H.R.-related reasons (he claims Sheridan’s behavior had become increasingly unprofessional), Pedowitz testified today that he only signed off on the move for “creative” purposes and Cherry never brought up the other two. But, Pedowitz added, he did mandate that all ABC series cut costs by 2 percent in 2008. He testified Cherry wanted Sheridan gone sooner rather than later but he was told to wait for May sweeps. Pedowitz said they wanted it to be a secret and a surprise for everyone, and were concerned word would leak out. When asked if keeping a secret was an issue, Pedowitz quipped, “I have a concern about anybody keeping a secret.”
Pedowitz said he did have a moment when he reconsidered the decision. He personally only found out about the Sept. 24 incident when Cherry struck Sheridan when he read about it in the National Enquirer tabloid at the end of October while he was standing on a supermarket checkout line. He recalled he was surprised he knew nothing about the incident and immediate got on the phone and called a meeting with his top internal staff to discuss it. At that meeting Pedowitz ordered that an investigation be done into the incident by the human resources department. That was the appropriate way to handle the situation he felt, so he made no effort to contact Cherry or Sheridan or anyone else directly. However, it did concern him that when word got out that Edie Britt was going to be killed, it might cause an issue. “We did not want the decision to play out like it did today in court,” he lamented. In November, the head of HR reported back to him verbally that an investigation had been completed, there were no more outstanding complaints to deal with and that there was no further action to take. HR and Pedowitz at that point determined the matter was closed.
At the end of the day, Cherry returned to the stand and was asked if he agreed with Olshansky that Desperate Housewives was a comedy in the same way Seinfeld or 30 Rock or Golden Girls, on which he had worked, was a comedy. “Absolutely not,” said Cherry adamantly. Cherry said those comedies for the most part are half hour shows usually shot in front of a live audience, that are all about doing a set up and then a joke, a set up and a joke, again and again. He said Desperate Housewives, on the other hand, had comic elements but also told dramatic stories and involved a mystery element. “That’s why,” said Cherry, “its not a typical comedy.”
Trial resumes Wednesday, with Cherry, a producer that backs up Sheridan’s events and possibly Neal Baer.
Ted Casablanca has some information on his column ‘The Awful Truth’ coming from sources close to the case that she might not have lost the battle yet, contrary to the recent speculation that she’s fighting a lost cause.
While Cherry and his lawyers have stated that he had planned to kill Edie for a long while and the onscreen death had nothing to do with the incident that ocurred on set.
Story outlines proving that seem a piece of evidence against Sheridan.
“I think anyone can create notes dated whenever they want them to be,” the source claims, careful not to state that the documents actually are counterfeit—just that they possibly could be.
But there may be more to Cherry’s decision to kill off Sheridan’s character than telling some network execs. Or at least a case of bad etiquette.
The source continues: “I would also think there is something in her contract that says to the effect if this is my last year I get to know so I can look for other work.”
Especially since Cherry apparently let costars Felicity Huffman and Eva Longoria know months before Nicollette that he was planning on giving Ms. Britt the boot (to which he claims they were “relieved”).
Nicollette’s personal attorneys and Cherry’s people have been reached out for clarification on her contract but haven’t answered back yet.
|March 6||Trial Fourth Day Recap|
With a small change in the jury (one juror was sick and had to be replaced) and a little delay, the session start with the conclussion of Nicollette’s testimony and the beginning of Cherry’s.
The main focus was a December 5, 2008 letter from ABC’ Human Resources that concluded its investigation into the on-set incident between Cherry and Sheridan. In the letter, the network found that the producer’s apology over the incident had effectively ended the matter and no further action would be taken for “inadvertently upsetting [Sheridan].” Sheridan said it was “an appalling and outrageous lie.”
For Sheridan’s final day on the stand, opposing counsel interrogated the British thesp on how she could claim in her deposition that the producer told her that he “wanted to shake things up” when he informed her that he was going to ax Edie in February 2008—when Levin pointed out Sheridan painted a very different impression in her testimony last week all hinging on the word “just.” “You were making that up, weren’t you?” Levin asked her accusingly before warning her that she again was contradicting herself and could face a penalty of perjury. What subsequently unfolded was some heavy jousting over whether “just” was in her deposition with the lawyer trying to shake Nicollette’s composure and undermine her credibility and Sheridan firing back, noting “‘Just’ was not in what you just read,” in reference to the deposition statement he uttered aloud.
Levin also argued that Sheridan had her attorney, Neil Meyer, take care of her complaint against Cherry after the fateful September 2008 incident on set when she alleged that Cherry decked her on the side of the head instead of the thesp personally contacting human resources or her union herself. “I felt that [having Neil handle the situation] was the safest hands to be in,” Sheridan said, in response to why her attorney handled contacting H.R. and she didn’t.
Once her redirect was complete, the actress cried on the stand and was handed a tissue from Judge Elizabeth Allen White—this after reading a letter line producer George Perkins gave her after her last table read relating how blessed the staff were to have her on the show.
Every now and then I’m blown away by something someone does.
Today you blew me away at the read through.
Your grace, dignity and class shined the brightest light in the room.
You’re a very special person Nicollette and I’m blessed to know you.
And then Cherry’s turn started. He was upbeat and his answers were short. Under questioning by Sheridan’s attorneys, he often said, “I don’t recall.” He did however say he “tapped” Sheridan’s head with his fingers. And, Cherry claims Sheridan was relieved of her contract because of “creative desires” to make the story arc better.
Cherry also revealed the five reasons, Sheridan was fired:
• She’s not punctual
• She forgets lines
• He witnessed her being nasty to a prop man.
• She’s critical of the scripts
• She’s critical of one of her co-stars
Cherry didn’t reveal which co-star, and he said he personally did not witness her being tardy.
The admission came in a contentious line of questioning from Sheridan’s attorney Mark Baute in Los Angeles Superior Court. It began when he asked Cherry if he used his right hand.
Cherry said, “Used to what?”
Baute said, “I’m not going to get into adjectives like hit…”
Defense attorney Adam Levin objected as vague and Judge Elizabeth Allen White sustained the objection.Baute re-phrased and asks what portion of Cherry’s body came into contact with Nicollette Sheridan.
Cherry said, “My fingers.” Baute asked, “On your right hand?”
Cherry said, “Yes, they are attached to my right hand.”
Asked what part of Sheridan’s body he made contact with, Cherry said the left side of her head, with an open hand.
Baute asked if Cherry asked permission to make contact with Sheridan.
Cherry said, “I felt I had permission.”
When Baute repeated the question, Cherry said “permission was understood.”
After Baute repeated the question in various forms, and the judge ordered Cherry to answer directly, Cherry said that “no,” he did not ask permission to make contact with her.
Under questioning, Cherry recalled that Sheridan said, “You hit me. You can’t hit me.” before leaving the set upset immediately.
Cherry said his assistant Jason Ganzel, script supervisor Linda Leifer and director Larry Shaw were then talking to him about it and the issue of apologizing came up. Cherry testified that he went outside and called his assistant Sabrina Wind, and she said they needed to report it to HR immediately. In explaining the contact, Cherry said that his intent was to demonstrate a “physical bit of business” to end the scene. He said Sheridan seemed confused with the verbal directions she was given, so he gave her a physical demonstration. His deposition was read out loud by Baute: “I resorted to demonstration to get my point across.” Cherry was visibly flustered and appeared frustrated several times, in contrast with his testimony earlier in the day. Asked if there are any emails or memos documenting the alleged unprofessional behavior, Cherry said he hasn’t seen any. When questioned further about her alleged unprofessional conduct and killing her off the show, Cherry said, “It wasn’t my primary reason for my decision, but it was something I was aware of.”
Marc Cherry also told the court that Nicollette Sheridan’s Desperate Housewives co-stars Eva Longoria and Felicity Huffman were “relieved” to hear that Sheridan’s character would be killed off the hit ABC series. They were, he testified, concerned that their deals might be affected by salary demands Sheridan might have been considering at the time. He testified that on or around the series’ 100th episode party on December 10, 2008 — more than two months before Cherry said he told Sheridan that she would be leaving the show – he told Longoria and Huffman that Sheridan’s character was being killed off to “calm them down”. Longoria and Huffman were in Cherry’s office that December day to discuss conversations they had with Sheridan about all five stars renegotiating their contracts together to get a better deal out of the network.
Meanwhile, over a month after the meeting with Longoria and Huffman, a January 27, 2009 email went out from Housewives producer George Perkins, quoting Cherry, that said “any attempts to diminish” Sheridan’s Edie Britt character’s role “is false”. Cherry confirmed that that the quote came from him.
Testimony concluded with a much more relaxed Cherry answering questions from his defense lawyer Adam Levin about his background, how he came up with the concept for Housewives and about how Sheridan was so great in the show’s pilot that Cherry decided to make her a series regular. His testimony continues tomorrow. Former ABC executive Mark Pedowitz, now entertainment president of The CW, is expected to testify next.
I find very interesting he was willing to give out names about Huffman and Longoria being relieved Nicollette was being axed but he didn’t name who Sheridan was supposedly badmouthing.
|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