'Desperate Housewives' trial: Marc Cherry claims he 'tapped' Nicollette Sheridan
"Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry told a Los Angeles jury on Monday that Nicollette Sheridan's unprofessional behavior on the set of contributed to his decision to killing off her character on the ABC drama series.
Sheridan finished her testimony in the morning and was cross examined by defense attorney Adam Levin who noted that the actress testified that Cherry told her he had "just" made the decision to kill off her character. Levin asked her if she was "making things up just to help [her] case," which Sheridan denied.
The 48-year-old actress, who played sexy and feisty Edie Britt on the ABC drama series between 2004 and 2009, made her comments during her testimony in a $6 million wrongful termination and battery case.
When asked why she didn't report the incident to Human Resources, Sheridan said "I was letting my attorney handle it with ABC/Disney."
Levin showed the actress a letter sent to her attorney from an ABC attorney which read, "Human Resources conducted an investigation and concluded Nicollette Sheridan was not mistreated... Marc simply gave her a light tap on the side of her head for the sole purpose of providing direction for a scene they were rehearsing. As you know, Marc went to her trailer within minutes and apologized for inadvertently upsetting her."
Levin proceeded to show a clip from the set of the ABC series, directly following the alleged incident, where Sheridan cursed and made a joke after missing a line.
Sheridan got emotional several times during her testimony - when the courtroom was shown clips of her on the "Housewives" set and after reading a letter from line producer George Perkins which said he was "blessed" to know her and that her "grace, dignity and class shined as the brightest light in the room."
During Cherry's testimony, Sheridan's lawyer Mark Baute said that Cherry previously said that he decided to kill off Sheridan's character for three primary reasons - creative, cutting costs and increased concerns over her unprofessional behavior. However, Baute claims there were no memos or emails documenting the actress' behavior.
Cherry had claimed that the actress was not punctual, was forgetting her lines, was nasty to a prop man, was critical of the script and was critical of her co-stars. Baute said that Cherry himself didn't witness Sheridan being late and the prop man incident happened when Cherry had allegedly already decided to kill of Edie Britt.
Cherry later admitted that he never asked verbal permission to "touch" Sheridan, but described the alleged slap as a "tap." He said that after trying to explain a scene, he resorted to a demonstration.
The Executive Producer said that Sheridan looked taken aback after he tapped her, was silent for a few seconds and then said, "You hit me, you can't do that" and left the set.
Cherry said he felt awful about the incident and offered to write a joke for Sheridan's character. When asked how long he felt awful for, Cherry told the courtroom, "It's going on three and a half years now."
He went on to say that things became awkward around Sheridan and was upset with "the concept out there in the universe of me hitting a woman." Cherry also said he felt like Sheridan was lying.
Defense attorney Adam Levin began his cross examination of Cherry in the afternoon. He asked the writer about creating the series, which Cherry said was inspired by watching Andrea Yates' criminal trial with his mother, in the summer of 2001. Yeates was found guilty of drowning her children in a bathtub. Cherry recalled that his own mother said she had once experienced the feeling of being alone and so desperate that you wanted to kill your own children.
Cherry said that Sheridan originally read for the role of Bree in "Desperate Housewives," but producers asked her to read for the role of Edie and found that she was a perfect fit.
Sheridan filed her lawsuit against Cherry in April 2010. Levin told the jury in his opening statement on Wednesday that Cherry had decided Britt must die in May 2008, four months before the alleged incident.
Sheridan testified on February 29 that Cherry "hit" her "upside the head" and then begged her forgiveness "on bended knee," months before her character was killed off the ABC drama series.
The trial is expected to last for about two weeks. "Desperate Housewives" is on its eighth season and is scheduled to air its series finale in May.
Sheridan was making $175,000 per episode by the show's fifth season, which was her last. A summary judgment filed by ABC and Cherry had said: "Sheridan was obviously unhappy to lose her job as a highly-compensated star of 'Desperate Housewives.' However, she cannot state a legal claim based on the creative decisions and actions challenged in her lawsuit."
Remaining "Desperate Housewives" actresses Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria-Parker, Felicity Huffman and Marcia Cross have so far remained neutral regarding the charges and had said in statements that their work environment is not hostile. Many cast members of the show are set to testify during the trial.
Sheridan's attorney said on Wednesday that Sheridan lost "the most lucrative job of her career" and while 47 actors who played minor roles were written off of "Desperate Housewives," Sheridan was the "main character". He added that her final episode was "poorly written."
Her final appearance on the show was in May 2009. Sheridan went on to star in the 2010 Hallmark television movie "Honeymoon for One."
She has other projects in the works - she provides the voice of a character in an upcoming animated film called "Noah's Ark: The New Beginning," which also stars Michael Keaton, Marcia Gay Harden and Jason Mewes and hits theaters this year. Sheridan also filmed the romantic comedy "Jewtopia," which also stars Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jon Lovitz.