Nearly two years after her first Desperate Housewives trial ended with a deadlocked jury, Nicollette Sheridan is finally getting another legal life. LA Superior Court Judge Michael Stern has overturned his earlier ruling and granted the actress a new trial in her case against ABC/Touchstone TV for being suddenly let go from the now shuttered Housewives back in 2009. In October, Stern denied Sheridan’s request for a new trial, saying she failed to present her grievances to the state Labor Commission within six months of the alleged 2008 incident in which Sheridan claims show executive producer/creator Marc Cherry struck her on set. Stern said at the time that an appellate court ruling handed down in August clarified the law and made him rethink the issues and throw the case out. However, the law on which Touchstone lawyers largely relied was later decertified by the state Supreme Court. Earlier this month, Stern denied Sheridan’s separate for a new trial that was largely based on the same arguments.
It’s finally over — at least for now. LA Superior Judge Michael Stern today sided with ABC/Touchstone TV and granted a summary judgement dismissing Nicollette Sheridan’s latest attempt to for a new trial over being dropped from Desperate Housewives. Stern’s ruling was primarily based on the actress not filing a complaint with the California Labor Commission within six months of the September 2008 incident where Sheridan claims show executive producer/creator Marc Cherry struck her on set. ‘It was the right result and the judge’s analysis was spot on. The judge followed Supreme Court precedent that required that Ms. Sheridan’s last remaining claim be dismissed with prejudice,” attorney Adam Levin, representing ABC/Touchstone, told me after the hearing. Sheridan’s last trial ended in a mistrial in March 2012 after the jury deadlocked 8-4. Dramatically trimmed down from her original multimillion-dollar case, Sheridan was now just claiming that she had been fired from the primetime soap in 2009 because she spoke out against working conditions on the series. Even if the case had gone forward, it was going to be a hard one as Cherry was dismissed as a defendant in the original case in early 2012. If ABC’s motion had failed, the retrial was set to start December 2. Attorneys for Sheridan are expected to appeal …
Over a year after Nicollette Sheridan saw her wrongful termination suit against Desperate Housewives ended in a mistrial, the actress today got a new trial date. Sheridan and defendants Touchstone Television will be back in court on December 2, LA Superior Court judge Michael Stern ruled today. Stern’s ruling came after denying a motion by the defendants to have the case dismissed. Sheridan’s lawyers filed an amended complaint for their client under a section of the California Labor Code that is designed to protect employees from losing their jobs if they make a complaint about workplace safety. This amended complaint follows a three-judge appeals court panel ruling last August that Sheridan could pursue claims that she was retaliated against after complaining that creator Marc Cherry struck her in the head during an on-set argument in September 2008. The lawsuit over Sheridan’s original claims that her Housewives character Edie Britt was suddenly killed off in early 2009 and she was wrongfully fired from her starring role on the ABC drama resulted in a deadlocked jury on March 19th of last year. That trial saw ABC executives past and present as well as Sheridan and Cherry among others take the stand. Cherry and ABC always insisted the departure of the character and the actress had been decided months before the hitting incident, which the producer has …
The California Supreme Court turned down the appeal of former Desperate Housewives star Nicollette Sheridan on Friday. In a brief ruling by Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye the court “denied” Sheridan’s latest appeal in her legal battle against ABC and Touchstone Television. The ruling represents yet another defeat for the actress in her wrongful termination case. In September, the California 2nd District Court of Appeal denied Sheridan’s petition for a rehearing of the suit. A month earlier another appeals court panel rejected Sheridan’s claim of being wrongfully fired from the ABC show back in early 2009. The jurists in that ruling left open the possibility for Sheridan to pursue claims that she was retaliated against after complaining that Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry struck her in the head during an on-set argument. The lawsuit over Sheridan’s original claims ended in a mistrial March 19th of this year. Neither lawyers for Sheridan nor ABC responded to requests for comment today.
EXCLUSIVE: Former Desperate Housewives executive producer/ showrunner Bob Daily is staying in the ABC/ABC Studios fold, teaming with the executive producer of another hit ABC drama that started as a Desperate Housewives companion, Grey’s Anatomy‘s Mark Gordon.
The untitled hourlong drama, from ABC Studios and studio-based Mark Gordon Co., revolves around three diverse families whose lives get gloriously messy when they discover that they share a biological father, a successful bachelor in his 40s who’s completely unprepared to embrace the family he never knew he wanted. Daily will co-write the script with feature writer Pierce Gardner (Dan In Real Life). Daily, Gordon and Nicholas Pepper are the executive producers.
Doesn’t look like Nicollette Sheridan is going back to court to take on ABC again anytime soon. In a curt one-page ruling dated September 7, the California 2nd District Court of Appeal issued an order denying the former Desperate Housewives star’s petition for a rehearing of her wrongful termination suit against ABC and Touchstone Television. This comes almost a month after a three-judge appeals court panel rejected Sheridan’s claim of being wrongfully fired from the ABC show back in early 2009. That decision made last week’s order almost a given. However, all is likely not over for Sheridan and ABC. The judges in August said that the actress could continue with an amended claim that she was retaliated against after complaining that Housewives executive producer and creator Marc Cherry hit her in the head during a September 2008 argument on-set. In that case, Sheridan’s damages would be limited to loss of wages and benefits, a far cry from the $20 million suit she originally filed in April 2010.
UPDATE, 5:42 PM: “Let me tell you something, the Eva Longoria who worked at Wendy’s flipping burgers, she needed a tax break but the Eva Longoria who works on movie sets does not,” the former Desperate Housewives star told the delegates in Charlotte to big applause tonight. Besides hitting out at Barack Obama’s GOP rival Mitt Romney and his policies, the campaign co-chair used her just over six minute speech to stress employment opportunity issues. “As I travel the country for the President, I see Americans of every background fighting to succeed. They’re optimistic, they’re ambitious, they’re hardworking but they also want to know that their hard work will pay off,” Longoria said. “We’re lucky that our President understands the value of American opportunity because he’s lived it,” she added to big applause. In a poised partisan and personal biography heavy speech, the long time Obama supporter was a clear contrast, as she promised yesterday to be, to the often rambling appearance by Clint Eastwood at the GOP convention last week.
PREVIOUSLY, 5:19 PM: Eva Longoria has walked on stage at the Democratic National Convention. A co-chair of the President’s reelection campaign, the former Desperate Housewives actress has promised over the past day that she will not be pulling a Clint Eastwood during her turn in the political spotlight. “I come from a very different position than Clint Eastwood,” said the long time Obama …
A three-judge appeals court panel returned the ruling today, agreeing with attorneys for ABC and Touchstone Television that Nicollette Sheridan was not wrongfully fired. But the jurists said Sheridan should be allowed to pursue claims that she was retaliated against after complaining that Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry struck her in the head during an on-set argument. Sheridan’s initial case was declared a mistrial on March 19. Adam Levin, who represents ABC and Touchstone Television, praised the ruling. “The Court of Appeal correctly found that Ms. Sheridan was not terminated. Instead, her employment ended because Touchstone elected not to renew her contract after her character, Edie Britt, died on the show. Her last remaining claim for wrongful termination is gone, and while she may seek to add an OSHA claim, we believe we will prevail on that claim as well,” he said in a statement.
But Sheridan’s attorney Marc Baute is not giving up: “We will prosecute Touchstone to the fullest extent of the law under Labor Code Section 6310,” Baute said in a statement. Sheridan claimed in her initial lawsuit that her Housewives character Edie Britt was suddenly killed off in early 2009 and that she was fired from the show because of complaints the actress made over an alleged head-hitting incident on the series’ set with executive producer and series creator Marc Cherry on September 24, 2008.
At a hearing today, a three-judge Court of Appeal panel consisting of Norman Epstein, Thomas Willhite Jr and Nora Manella heard arguments from Sheridan’s and ABC’s lawyers. At the end of the arguments the judges said that they will take the matter of a retrial and the submitted briefs from the lawyers under consideration. A decision could take up to three months or more, rendering the previously set Sept. 10 start date for a retrial void.
Since the end of the original trial, ABC has argued for a dismissal of the case, insisting that Sheridan was not wrongfully terminated from Desperate Housewives. “All of the evidence shows that Ms. Sheridan was not terminated but her employment came to a natural end when her contract was not renewed,” defense lawyer Adam Levin of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, representing ABC Studios and ABC Entertainment, said today.
Sheridan was in court, accompanied by one of her lawyers, Mark Baute of Baute Crochetiere & Maloney. Judges Willhite and Manella repeatedly queried Baute about his client’s notion of termination. “Is it a termination when a contract is not renewed,” Manella asked. Baute responded by reiterating the alleged on-set head-hitting incident between Sheridan and Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry as the basis for what he called “Sheridan’s retaliatory firing for complaining about the incident.”
Lupe Ontiveros, who starred in the films Selena and As Good As It Gets, has died. Her management agency says she passed away yesterday after battling liver cancer. She was 69. The iconic Mexican-American actress appeared on both the big and small screen over a career that spanned more than four decades. She is perhaps best known for her role as convicted murderer Yolanda Saldivar in the 1997 film Selena, which starred Jennifer Lopez as the famed Tejano-style singer. She earned an Emmy nomination in 2004 for guest actress in a comedy series for her role as Juanita Solis, the mother-in-law of Eva Longoria’s character Gabrielle on Desperate Housewives. Longoria tweeted this morning about Ontiveros’ passing, saying she was deeply saddened at the news. “She was more than a colleague to me, she was my family. My heart is with your family Lupe…”. Her other credits include The Goonies, Real Women Have Curves, Charlie’s Angels, and TV’s Hill Street Blues and Reba.
A month and a half after her death, Kathryn Joosten this morning landed her first supporting actress nomination for her role on Desperate Housewives. The ABC dramedy, which was a major Emmy contender early in its run and won best comedy series award for Felicity Huffman in its first year, earned two Emmy nominations for its final season. Fittingly, they went to Joosten and Brenda Strong, whose characters’ deaths framed the series: Strong’s Mary Alice’s suicide in the pilot kicked off the show, while the death of Joosten’s Karen McKluskey was at the center of the series finale in May. Desperate Housewives narrator Strong is nominated in the voice-over category for a second consecutive year.
Darcy Rose Byrnes has signed with UTA. The teen starred as Penny Scavo on Desperate Housewives from its seventh season in 2010 until the ABC series ended this year. She also starred on The Young and the Restless. Byrnes is working now on the series Sofia The First from Disney, Nickelodeon’s The Winx Club as well as the network’s The Legend of Korra. Byrnes is managed by Curtis Talent Management.
CBS’ CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the most-watched TV show in the world, won the ratings-based International Television Audience Award for the fifth time in seven years as U.S. series dominated the awards handed out today at the 52nd Monte-Carlo Television Festival. ABC’s Desperate Housewives took the honor on the comedy side, while The Bold And The Beautiful won for soap opera/telenovela. Among the Golden Nymph winners were HBO’s Game Of Thrones (drama) and ABC’s Modern Family (comedy) for best international producer, Woody Harrelson as outstanding actor in a telefilm for HBO’s Game Change, 30 Rock‘s Tina Fey for comedy actress, and Jason Priestley as best comedy actor for HBO Canada’s Call Me Fitz. Here’s the complete list of winners:
Ray Richmond is a contributor to AwardsLine.
It’s only June, but this has already been kind of a rough year for Marc Cherry. The wrongful termination suit filed against ABC Studios and ABC by Nicollette Sheridan ended in a mistrial on March 19. A retrial was scheduled to go forward beginning September 10, but has been temporarily stayed pending resolution of certain issues. In May, ABC passed on taking Cherry’s new hourlong pilot Devious Maids to series, the same week that his Desperate Housewives wrapped its run on the network after eight seasons. (Devious Maids has since been shopped to Lifetime.) Yet Cherry refused to be downbeat in a recent interview, reflecting on the wild ride that was Housewives.
AWARDSLINE: When you look back, what are you proudest of with regard to this show?
MARC CHERRY: Well, personally I’m just proud that I created something that helped me pay my bills because I was so flat broke. You know, I was borrowing money from my mother to stay afloat, and that was kind of uncomfortable. Professionally, I think just the fact that the show had a very original voice. I created a tone for network television that they hadn’t really been seen before. And I have to admit that was really more of an accident. I was just writing the way I write. I got the right director and the right cast, and the recipe just worked, and I was flattered and thrilled that people seemed to like it.
The pending retrial of Nicollette Sheridan’s Desperate Housewives wrongful dismissal case has been put on ice by the California Court of Appeals. In a ruling issued Friday the court said, “it is further ordered that the retrial currently set for September 10 is hereby stayed pending further order of the court.” The appeals court ruling seems to agree with defendant Touchstone Television Productions and ABC Studios that it is not wrongful termination under state law when a contract renewal is not exercised. However, Sheridan’s lawyer Mark Baute points out the court order notes the case can be examined under Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s labor code violations. Baute also says the court wants the wrongful termination claim more fully laid out and he will be filing those briefs soon. “The temporary stay is designed to clarify and resolve those issues before the September trial starts,” says Baute. Adam Levin, ABC’s main lawyer in the case, did not respond to a request for comment. A hearing is set for August 9 for trial Judge Elizabeth Allen White to make her case for a retrial.
Sheridan’s first case against Touchstone, ABC Studios, ABC Entertainment and Desperate Housewives’ Executive Producer Marc Cherry ended in a mistrial on March 19 when the jury was deadlocked. Cherry was dismissed as a defendant before the end of the first trial and would not have been a defendant in any retrial. Sheridan has contended that her character was …
Character actress Kathryn Joosten, who played the snoop Karen McCluskey on Desperate Housewives and the president’s secretary on The West Wing, died today in Los Angeles after battling lung cancer for years. She was 72. She won two Emmys for the Desperate Housewives role. Her character also battled cancer and passed away in the series finale in May. In addition to her other major role as Mrs. Landingham on The West Wing, she had a recurring gig in Dharma & Greg and guest starred in Ally McBeal, Scrubs and My Name Is Earl. Joosten, who had a career as a psychiatric nurse before turning to acting, was also active in animal rights causes.
Additionally Joosten served as a Governor for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Performers Peer Group. She completed two terms and was in her third at the time of her death. In his condolences statement TV Academy COO Alan Perris said she was “an exceptional representative of the performers peer group and spirited contributor to our organization. She will be missed.” A lengthy interview Joosten did with TV Academy Foundation’s Archive of American Television will be posted Monday, June 4th, at EmmyTVLegends.org.
UPDATED, 9:55 AM: Disney/ABC just objected in court to the judge’s start date for the retrial, so the start has been shifted to September 10. The trial is scheduled to run through September 25, and a status conference has been set for September 5. White also rejected today the defense’s motion to dismiss the case, and also rejected a plaintiff’s request for financial sanctions.
PREVIOUS, 9:51 AM: Judge Elizabeth Allen White today set June 4 as the start date of a second trial in Nicollette Sheridan’s wrongful termination suit against ABC Studios and ABC. White said the trial is expected to take 12 days. A mistrial was declared in the first trial March 19 after the 12-person jury told the judge it was deadlocked 8-4. Sheridan has contended that her Desperate Housewives character Edie Britt was suddenly killed off in early 2009 because of complaints she made over an alleged head-hitting incident on the Desperate Housewives set with executive producer and series creator Marc Cherry on September 24, 2008. The three weeks of the first trial saw a parade of former ABC executives, such as former ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson and former ABC Studios boss Mark Pedowitz, and both Sheridan and Cherry, among others, take the stand. Cherry, who was in court throughout much of the first trial, was removed as a defendant midway through the trial when the battery charge against …