EXCLUSIVE: It’s a sad day for the smart and sassy suburban women on Wisteria Lane and the worldwide audience of approximately 120 million who watch them. We’ve just learned that ABC will announce on Sunday at the Television Critics Association’s press tour that this 2011-2012 season will be the last for long-running Desperate Housewives. Key castmembers are starting to be told, and we hear that Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, and Eva Longoria are shocked and saddened since the ABC Studios series created by Marc Cherry was expected to continue until 2013 after the longtime showrunner had said that he wanted the show to go for 9 seasons. ABC also contracted with the show’s four stars for the next season after lengthy salary negotiations with the quartet this past season. In addition to signing them for this coming season, ABC also got options on them for Season 9. But when this season’s premiere episode is broadcast on Sunday, September 25th, it will be the first for the series without Cherry at the helm. He stepped down at the end of last season as executive producer/showrunner and is expected to be a consultant on Season 8 while focusing on development of other series. Cherry also was slapped by former castmate Nicolette Sheridan with an embarrassing lawsuit over a purported slap which is still winding its way through the Los Angeles courts. Her claims of battery, wrongful termination, and unlawful retaliation will be argued in front of a jury. Since the provocative and profitable dramedy’s premiere on October 3, 2004, the show has been a hit with viewers and critics alike: a solid Nielsen performer as well as a multiple Emmy and Screen Actors Guild award winner. The series premiere drew 21.6 million viewers and the show’s first season finale attracted over 30 million viewers. Since 2006 and continuing into 2010, it was the most-watched comedy series internationally, with an average viewership of 51.6 million viewers across 68 territories. Moreover, it was the third-highest revenue earning show for 2010, with $2.74 million per half hour.

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