By Harriet Ryan, Los Angeles Times –
LOS ANGELES — It started as normal Hollywood friction — an actress who wanted better lines and a writer annoyed by her suggestions. But the squabble on the “Desperate Housewives” set four years ago took an unusually nasty turn that led Thursday to a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.
Actress Nicollette Sheridan told a jury that series creator Marc Cherry slapped her in the head during a rehearsal after she repeatedly questioned him about deleting what she considered to be a particularly funny line for her character.
“It stunned me,” Sheridan said of what she described as a “nice wallop” to her temple. Her face reddening and her eyes filling with tears, she told jurors, “It was unfathomable to me that I had just been hit by my boss.”
The actress, 48, is suing Cherry and Touchstone Television Productions for wrongful termination and battery. She contends that after she complained about Cherry’s conduct, he retaliated by killing off her character, the promiscuous real estate agent Edie Britt.
By her lawyer’s estimation, departing the ABC hit cost Sheridan about $6 million in income and other damages.
Cherry, who sat stone-faced at the defense table throughout Sheridan’s testimony, contends he only gave Sheridan what his lawyer called “a light tap on the head” to demonstrate how he wanted her to hit another character in a scene. His attorneys have said Edie’s demise in the fifth season was plotted months before the incident.
But in her testimony, Sheridan said that on the contrary, Cherry had told her in 2008 that Edie would not be killed off because it would create an uproar with fans. She said she was under that impression on Sept. 24, 2008, when she confronted Cherry about removing a line in which her character used a Beatles song to tease her on-screen husband’s songwriting struggles: “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah. How hard is that?”
After the second time she asked, Sheridan said, he pulled her aside and smacked her. She said he later came to her trailer, apologized and gave her an even better line: “Play that funky music middle-aged white boys.”