Nicollette Sheridan told jurors on Thursday that she was shocked and humiliated after being struck in the head by the creator of “Desperate Housewives” on the set of the hit ABC show.
The actress was the first witness called during her trial alleging that she was fired after a dispute with creator and executive producer Marc Cherry. She is seeking more than $6 million in damages.
At the request of her attorney, Patrick Maloney, the actress demonstrated the blow by striking her lawyer in court. Sheridan contended it was a hard blow, although attorneys for Cherry and ABC claimed it was a light tap meant to give the actress some direction for a scene.
Sheridan told jurors that Cherry appeared stunned after the hit and later apologized to her.
Wearing a navy blue suit and white blouse, Sheridan split the day testifying about the show’s early years and the dispute with Cherry and its aftermath.
Her character Edie Britt was killed off in the show’s fifth season, when she was earning $175,000 an episode. By then, she also had been granted a portion of the series’ profits by that point and was slated to earn $250,000 an episode if she remained on the series through the seventh season.
She testified that although Cherry had left her character’s fate in doubt at the end of seasons three and four, he never mentioned killing her off until after he hit her and was cleared by ABC executives of wrongdoing.
Cherry and ABC have denied wrongdoing and said they will present evidence that the decision to kill off Britt was made months before his argument with Sheridan and had to be approved by top executives at the network.
The scene that led to the dispute between Sheridan and Cherry was originally not meant to include the actress’ character. Her role was added after several revisions and was a short scene in which Britt needled her on-screen husband about how to write a love song.
A later script called for her to strike him with a magazine.
Maloney showed jurors various versions of the script, and played a montage of some of Sheridan’s highlights from the show, including her attempting to seduce men and washing a car with her blouse unbuttoned and bra exposed.
Some jurors laughed as the scenes were played. Many had seen the show in its early seasons.
Sheridan told the panel that she wasn’t similar to her character. “I think honesty is about the only thing we shared,” she said.
“Desperate Housewives,” a glossy prime-time comedy/soap opera with an ensemble cast including Hatcher and Longoria, made a pop-culture and ratings splash when it premiered in 2004 but has seen its audience dwindle. It is in its last season.
Cherry is expected to testify, and series stars Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria, Marcia Cross and Felicity Huffman are listed as potential witnesses.