"Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry today defended his decision to eliminate Nicollette Sheridan's character from the show, saying he got permission to do so from two ABC executives four months before he is alleged to have hit the actress on the head during a dispute.
Sheridan, 48, filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court in April 2010, alleging battery and wrongful termination against Cherry and Touchstone Television Productions.
She claims she was fired during the hit show's fifth season for complaining about Cherry's alleged head smack; Cherry maintains he only tapped her on the head to instruct her about a scene.
Cherry, cross-examined by Sheridan lawyer Mark Baute, said he had two separate meetings with the network executives in May 2008 concerning the proposed removal of Sheridan's Edie Britt character. He said his reasons for cutting Sheridan's part included saving money by eliminating her salary.
As ratings declined, ABC sought ways to reduce expenses, Cherry testified. He said he believed one way to do so was to renegotiate salaries like Sheridan's, who was paid $175,000 per episode regardless of whether she appeared in it or not.
"I know that I mentioned the money as an extra benefit," Cherry said.
Cherry also said he believed the move would allow the network to heavily promote the episode in which the Britt character would be killed off by being electrocuted after a car crash. The episode aired in the spring of 2009.
However, Cherry acknowledged he did not write any emails or memos that could now be checked to document his conversations with the ABC executives.
Cherry also said he did not have any backup writings concerning his allegations that Sheridan occasionally was unprofessional, including his claim she said something inappropriate to a show prop master in November 2008.
Earlier today, Sheridan defended her decision not to report Cherry's alleged head-smack to the studio's human resources department.
"I was afraid of being retaliated against," she said. "I wasn't sure what that human resources or any human resources department truly was."
Sheridan said she did tell her personal attorney and a show producer about the alleged incident.
Sheridan also said she asked her attorneys to change information on her state Department of Fair Employment and Housing documents to state that she was "violently hit" in the head by Cherry and not "slapped."
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