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 today’s ruling.
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.
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.”
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.
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 …