Former Desperate Housewives star Nicollette Sheridan took the stand in Los Angeles Thursday as the first witness in a trial to decide if she was wrongfully terminated from her role as Edie Britt on the ABC primetime soap opera.
Wearing a dark blue suit jacket and with her hair pulled back in a ponytail, Sheridan described the day she claims she was slapped by Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry.
The set-up, provided by Sheridan, was that a “funny” line Edie said during rehearsals had been cut from the script. So the actress approached Cherry about why it was gone. “What is it that you want?” Sheridan recounts him as saying. Then, she added, “Mr. Cherry approached, he took his right hand, and he hit me upside the head. I was stunned I couldn’t believe he just hit me.” Sheridan then recreated her reaction. “You just hit me in the head,” she said very loudly in the courtroom, while tearing up. “This is not okay, that is not okay.”
Later, after being comforted by co-star Neal McDonough, Sheridan says that Cherry came to her trailer and apologized. “I’m on bended knee begging your forgiveness,” she recounted Cherry as saying. “I didn’t know what you wanted.” She continued: “He wrapped his arms around me and apologized again.” The line of questioning ended when her lawyer, Patrick Maloney, had Sheridan hit him in the head with the same force that Cherry allegedly did. She hesitated before agreeing, and then let him have it.
Sheridan told the jury how she had notified line producer George Perkins and tried to reach both her lawyer and girlfriends for support. “I asked for another apology,” she said, “and I thought he should send me some flowers.” Sheridan claims that Cherry declined to do either.
Testimony earlier in the day was also of interest, as Sheridan’s lawyer attempted to illustrate how happy ABC was with her performance on the show. Maloney’s line of questioning highlighted Sheridan’s experience (including seven years on Knot’s Landing); a $125,000 bonus she received during the first season; and how the actress would have been paid $200,000 per episode had she remained with the series through its sixth season, in addition to profit sharing. It was revealed that after season 2 Sheridan had finally received the same pay as the four leads — Eva Longoria, Marcia Cross, Felicity Huffman, and Teri Hatcher — on the show, in terms of compensation and back-end profits.
Additionally, Sheridan claimed that at the reading of the script for the season 4 premiere episode, Cherry said that her character Edie wouldn’t be killed off. “There’s definitely one character we won’t be killing off,” she recounted him as saying, “and that would be Edie Britt.”
Sheridan will be cross-examined by the defense starting at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, March 2. (Additional reporting by Terry Schermerhorn)
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