Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s 2010 Emmy and TCA coverage:

At the kickoff of the summertime Television Critics Association press tour this morning, Desperate Housewives creator/showrunner Marc Cherry stood in a house on the Wisteria Lane set at Universal Studios and said something he never had before: He could see handing off his 6-year-old baby to someone else to run after the coming 7th season. In fact he thought it was likely, as he’s now penning a pilot for a potential new ABC series that he hopes will be up and running by next June. He wouldn’t elaborate on what the pilot is about, only noting it ”will not be set in suburbia”. “I’ve got a contract that keeps me around ABC for a few more years,” said Cherry, who is under a rich overall deal through the 2011-2012 season. “I hope (Housewives will be around) for a couple of more seasons, and my thing is I always will be executive producer and consultant on the show. It’s my baby. I can’t let go. I have control issues. They can’t totally get rid of me.”

Cherry’s willingness to step back and let someone else run Housewives represents a change of heart for the hands-on creator/showrunner. Here is what he said back in 2007 after signing a four-year deal to take Housewives through season 7: “I think that, at the end of my deal, and after seven seasons, it will be a good time to call it quits. I don’t want anyone else to run the show, and I don’t want us to fade away. I don’t want to overstay my welcome.”

In April, Cherry became the target of a $20 million lawsuit filed by former Housewives regular Nicollette Sheridan who charged that her character was written out in retaliation for her having complained about Cherry and his alleged abusive treatment of cast and crew on the set. “I’m not going to comment further on that,” Cherry said today, “because I have some Disney lawyers who would have my hide if I did….As you know, I tend to kill off people on this show, something like 36 of them in its history. I’ve had only one bad experience with someone who took umbrage at their firing.” Flanked on the Housewives set by regulars Eva Longoria Parker and Marcia Cross, Cherry continued, “You guys can come here and see how we interact, and how much love and kindness and tenderness there is.

Longoria Parker said she “wasn’t even sure” if the cast’s contracts were due to expire after the coming season. “We just got out pickup letter for this year, so I assume that means we’re coming back,” she added.

Cherry also gave more details about the new cast additions Brian Austin Green (Beverly Hills, 90210) and Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty). Green will play a hunky contractor who gets involved with Bree (Marcia Cross); Williams will play the wife of a Major League Baseball player and Lynette’s (Felicity Huffman) former college pal who moves to Wisteria Lane.