Anger didn’t factor into the decision to kill off Nicollette Sheridan’s role on “Desperate Housewives,” the series creator testified Thursday.
Marc Cherry concluded his testimony in the actress’ wrongful termination case. He denied claims by her attorneys that he attempted to influence the statements of other employees on the show to fit his version of the dispute and the decision to kill off her character, Edie Britt, during the series’ fifth season.
Cherry and other witnesses have said approval to kill off Sheridan’s character was given in May 2008, four months before the actress accused Cherry of striking her hard in the head during a discussion of a scene.
Cherry testified that he was simply trying to convey some direction to the actress on how to use physical humor.
Sheridan, 48, told jurors last week she was stunned and humiliated by the blow, which she described as a wallop, and that Cherry appeared nervous when he informed her in February 2009 that her character was going to die.
She said Cherry told her the decision had just been made, but Cherry disputed her account in his final moments on the stand.
The actress’ attorneys have suggested that Cherry and other “Desperate Housewives” workers altered their stories about the timing of the decision to kill off Britt.
Cherry and two witnesses say top ABC executives gave approval in May 2008, although a former writer and co-executive producer testified Wednesday that she didn’t hear any discussions about killing off Britt until December 2008.
Lori Kirkland Baker said she learned Britt would die in December, around the time that a human resources investigation cleared Cherry of wrongdoing. Her testimony contradicts Cherry’s statements that he announced that Sheridan’s role was being eliminated during a writers’ Las Vegas retreat in May 2008.
Jurors will have to sift through plenty of conflicting testimony, including differing accounts by Sheridan and Cherry about how hard he touched her. The actress is seeking more than $6 million in damages.
Cherry said it was not uncommon for him to touch actors and actresses on set and that he tapped Sheridan because she didn’t seem to understand that he wanted her to do physical comedy in the scene they were discussing.
He cited examples of picking up and moving Eva Longoria on the set and taking Marcia Cross’ hand and demonstrating how he wanted her to hit another actor.
“Desperate Housewives,” a glossy prime-time comedy/soap opera with an ensemble cast including Teri Hatcher and Longoria, made a pop-culture and ratings splash when it premiered in 2004 but has seen its audience dwindle. The show is in its final season.