‘Desperate Housewives’ Case Update: Nicollette Sheridan Lawyers Fight For Retrial

By | Wednesday April 4, 2012 @ 3:02pm PDT

Lawyers seeking a retrial for Nicollette Sheridan in her Desperate Housewives wrongful termination suit this week fired back against ABC Entertainment and Touchstone Television for asking Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White to grant a verdict in ABC’s … Read More »

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Judge Declares Mistrial In ‘Desperate Housewives’ Case; Defense Says “We’re Ready To Retrial”

By | Monday March 19, 2012 @ 12:04pm PDT

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

Desperate Housewives Trial

UPDATED: Judge Elizabeth Allen White has declared a mistrial in Nicollette Sheridan‘s wrongful termination suit against ABC Studios and ABC Entertainment. The judge took her action, as she … Read More »

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UPDATE: No Verdict, No Settlement in “Desperate Housewives” Trial Today

By | Friday March 16, 2012 @ 4:20pm PDT

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

UPDATE 4:50 PM: “The judge asked us to come down and speak to the other side,” defense attorney Adam Levin said outside Judge Bendix’s courtroom, “and we did so and absolutely nothing … Read More »

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‘Desperate Housewives’ Jury Says It’s Having Trouble Reaching Verdict

By | Thursday March 15, 2012 @ 4:32pm PDT

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

The jury in former Desperate Housewives star Nicollette Sheridan’s wrongful termination suit announced to the court late Thursday afternoon that it is “having difficulty reaching a verdict.” After its first full day of deliberations, … Read More »

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UPDATE: ‘Desperate Housewives’ Trial Now In Jury’s Hands

By | Wednesday March 14, 2012 @ 3:00pm PDT

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

Desperate Housewives Trial

2ND UPDATE, 3 PM: Closing statements are over and the jury has left the court to begin deliberations. As a civil trial, the 12-person jury — 9 women and 3 men — does not have to be unanimous in its verdict, but at least nine must agree.

Wrapping closing statements earlier in the afternoon, Levin went for ABC’s bottom line in the wrongful termination trial: “The evidence does not show that Ms. Sheridan made a complaint about an unsafe work environment.” During his rebuttal, plaintiff’s attorney Mark Baute went after Marc Cherry, whom he called “vindictive”. He said Cherry “was out of control,” over objections from Levin, adding, “the company,” to protect Cherry and the success of the series, “orchestrated a story.” Sheridan “got retaliated against and clipped.”

UPDATE, 12:27 PM: Defense attorney Adam Levin said during his closing statement that “the decision to kill off Edie was made long before the Sept. 24, 2008 incident”. “Mr. Baute has told you a complicated story of conspiracy,” Levin said, referring to the closing argument by Nicollette Sheridan’s lawyer. “What is the truth is much more simple.”

Calling it “desperate” to allege that “10 good citizens of California” would concoct a fake story to get rid of Sheridan’s character after the actress complained about Marc Cherry allegedly hitting her in the head, Levin took a much more professorial tone that the passionate Baute earlier in the morning. Employing props like on-screen transcripts, a giant timeline board, Post-It notes and Housewives’ writers’ story index cards (like the unfortunately worded “Steve drinks OJ”), Levin attempted to show the jury how the decision was made to kill off Sheridan’s character and how then-ABC Studios president Mark Pedowitz and then-ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson approved the plan four months before the on-set head-hitting altercation. Read More »

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UPDATE: ABC Lawyer Rejects Claim That Network Tried To Delete ‘Desperate Housewives’ Emails

By | Tuesday March 13, 2012 @ 3:31pm PDT

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

Desperate Housewives Trial

UPDATE, 3:31 PM: ABC’s VP Litigation Jean Zoeller said on the stand today that she would “absolutely not” tell anyone to delete or erase any correspondence or documents related to Nicollette Sheridan being fired from Desperate Housewives. Zoeller’s testimony came in direct response to potential bombshell testimony earlier today by Michael Reinhart, the Housewives crew member who said he received an email telling him to “possibly” delete any correspondence and documents concerning Sheridan leaving the show. Reinhart said he deleted the email immediately and court officials are examining the hard drive. Read More »

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Battery Charge Against Marc Cherry Dismissed In ‘Desperate Housewives’ Trial

By | Tuesday March 13, 2012 @ 12:03pm PDT

Marc Cherry Desperate Housewives TrialThe battery portion of Nicollette Sheridan’s lawsuit against Desperate Housewives creator/executive producer Marc Cherry has been dropped, with Cherry’s defense lawyer saying Cherry is ”no longer a defendant in this case.” … Read More »

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UPDATE: Mystery ‘Desperate Housewives’ Insider Identified; Defense Attorney Calls Revelation “Last-Ditch Effort”

By | Monday March 12, 2012 @ 4:30pm PDT

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

Desperate Housewives Trial3RD UPDATE, 4:30 PM: Michael Reinhart, credited as a construction coordinator on Desperate Housewives, has been identified as the caller who told Nicollette Sheridan’s lawyer that ABC planned to delete all emails related to Sheridan’s departure after she had filed her original lawsuit. Although IMDb lists him working on Housewives only in 2011, a source with knowledge of Reinhart’s employment history says, “The guy has been on the show since the pilot.” Attempts to contact Reinhart were unsuccessful, so Judge Elizabeth Allen White instructed her clerk to try to reach him directly at the end of the day today in hopes of having him appear in court tomorrow. They want him for what is known as a 402 hearing — it does not require a seated jury to be present — to determine whether he has information that is relevant. This afternoon, during jury instruction, Reinhart’s name was mentioned in court and defense lawyer Adam Levin “objected to Mr Reinhart taking the stand.” Later, Levin told Deadline: ”These mystery emails appear to be a last-ditch effort by the plaintiff to save her case — I want to see the emails”.

2ND UPDATE, 12:27 PM: Here is the official transcript of the voicemail (listen to the audio here) from the Desperate Housewives employee who called Nicollette Sheridan’s lawyer Mark Baute on Sunday afternoon:

Hi Mark. I’m an employee of Desperate Housewives. I received an email soon after Nicollette filed suit; I think it was meant for a much narrower distribution, but it regarded having IT come in and wipe clean the hard drives of the producers in response to the correspondence that they’ve had e-mail wise about firing Nicollette. Um, I think I got it by mistake; I believe they were going to have the Disney IT person come in to do the sweeping of the hard drive .. that’s about all I know; you obviously can check this number and figure out who I am but I really don’t want to get involved. I’m a real low level employee there and I shouldn’t have got that e-mail, I’m on the general email list. but there was definitely a conspiracy to cover up the correspondence on email wise in regards to Nicollette. See ya.

March 11, 2012 at 2:31 pm
8 year full time employee of Touchstone – Desperate Housewives

Nicollette Sheridan Desperate HousewivesUPDATE, 11 AM: Baute said the revelation that ABC attempted to have emails erased from Housewives‘ employees’ hard drives is legitimate. “I spoke to the guy for 45 minutes yesterday on the phone,” Baute told Deadline this morning, “and in my opinion this is for real”. The attorney said he received the voicemail in his office yesterday afternoon and expects that the employee in question will testify tomorrow morning. The plaintiffs rested their case this morning, and the defense has been bringing in a series of witnesses this morning. The jury is expected to receive instructions from the judge this afternoon for deliberations later this week.

PREVIOUS, 9:57 AM: Nicollette Sheridan’s lawyers dropped a bombshell in court this morning during Sheridan’s wrongful termination and battery trial. Mark Baute and Patrick Maloney played a voicemail from a “low-level” Desperate Housewives employee who said he was mistakenly included on an email that indicated ABC intended to use its IT department to wipe everyone’s hard drives of all communications in regard to the killing off of Sheridan’s Edie Britt character. The email was distributed to the series’ senior producers shortly after the actress first filed her suit on April 5, 2010. The staffer stated that there was “definitely a conspiracy to cover up correspondence.” Read More »

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UPDATE: Steve McPherson Says Plan To Kill Off Nicollette Sheridan’s Character Came Before Slap, Calls Trial “Crazy”

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

Desperate Housewives Trial

UPDATE, 2:57 PM: Former ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson told the court this afternoon that he approved the killing off of Nicollette Sheridan’s Edie Britt character in May 2008, months before a head-hitting incident between Sheridan and Cherry on the Desperate Housewives set. He then told Deadline after his brief appearance on the stand that he is surprised the case ever got this far. ”It’s kinda crazy,” McPherson said outside the courtroom. “Both parties are really nice people, and I’m surprised it even made it to trial,” he said. McPherson, who left ABC abruptly in 2010, declined to discuss the Cherry-Sheridan incident but told Deadline it had nothing to do with the actress leaving the series. “We made the decision to get rid of the character six or seven months before anything happened — whatever happened,” he said, echoing his testimony.

On the stand, McPherson confirmed Cherry’s and Pedowitz’s previous testimony that he gave his approval of the decision on May 22, 2008. “I was running the network, they needed my approval to kill of the character”, he told the jury. “I gave my approval.” The alleged Cherry-Sheridan head-slapping incident occurred in September 2008. Under questioning from Cherry defense lawyer Adam Levin, McPherson said he had no emails or memos about the decision because “we wanted to keep it confidential”. He testified that the only people at the meeting in his office that day were himself, Cherry, Pedowitz and Housewives producers Sabrina Wind and Bob Daily. He added that he would have done exactly the same thing in regards to the killing off of any major character on any major network series. “We didn’t want it to get out”, he said. Read More »

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‘Desperate Housewives’ Trial: Nicollette Sheridan Was Kept In Dark About Plan To Kill Off Her Character

By | Thursday March 8, 2012 @ 6:30pm PST

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

UPDATE 6:30 PM: Turns out Teri Hatcher’s Desperate Housewives job was on the chopping block too. George Perkins, the show’s long time line producer, testified this afternoon that Hatcher, the best known of the leads when the series debuted back in 2004, was under consideration to be let go to save money back in 2008. Also under discussion in an effort to cut costs as the series entered its fifth season were James Denton, who has played Hatcher’s love interest on the show from season one, Kyle MacLachlan, who played Marcia Cross’ second husband and Nicollette Sheridan, Perkins said.

Perkins said he was not privy to Cherry’s alleged meetings in May 2008 with then ABC Studios president Pedowitz and then-ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson, expected to testify Friday, about the decision to kill off Sheridan’s character. Perkins, who stressed he was not good with dates and had a bad memory, told the court he first heard of the decision to cut Sheridan in early June or July of 2008 as production on Desperate Housewives fifth season was gearing up. As for the alleged head hitting incident between Cherry and Sheridan on Sept. 24, 2008 that is at the center of the battery case, Perkins’ testimony focused on his efforts to properly manage the fallout from it. Perkins sent an email to ABC Human Resources exec Lynne Volk and the show’s publicists later that day, in which he called what happened a “very minor incident.” Read More »

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SPOILER ALERT: Which Major Character Is Being Killed Off ‘Desperate Housewives’ On Sunday?

By | Thursday March 8, 2012 @ 3:02pm PST

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

One of Desperate Housewivesoriginal cast members will bid farewell to Wisteria Lane as a major character is being killed off this Sunday. Housewives line producer George Perkins let the news slip on the stand today while giving testimony in Nicolette Sheridan’s wrongful termination and battery suit in downtown LA. If you don’t want to know, don’t read further. Read More »

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‘Desperate Housewives’ Trial: Steve McPherson Set To Take The Stand Friday

By | Wednesday March 7, 2012 @ 4:50pm PST

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

Marc Cherry Desperate Housewives TrialUPDATE, 4:45 PM: Here comes the big guy — former ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson is slated to testify in Nicollette Sheridan’s wrongful termination and battery trial on Friday at 1:30 PM. McPherson, who left ABC in 2010, has been cited in testimony by Marc Cherry and former ABC Studios president Mark Pedowitz as having given the network’s permission to kill off Sheridan’s Edie Britt character in May 2008, four months before the Cherry allegedly struck Sheridan in the head during an on-set altercation. Sheridan claims she was eliminated from the show because of that latter incident.

Testimony today saw several witnesses take the stand out of order due to scheduling issues, and saw Cherry’s ongoing testimony pause yet again to accommodate those changes. Sabrina Wind, a Desperate Housewives producer and Cherry’s self-described “right-hand gal,” took the stand this afternoon and contradicted several statements her boss made during his testimony. Wind, visibly nervous, said she could not recall getting a call from Cherry shortly after the alleged head-hitting incident between him and Sheridan on September 24, 2008. Sheridan’s lawyer Mark Baute then read from Wind’s deposition last year, in which she said she “did not” receive a call from Cherry as he previously testified. Wind, in another contradiction to Cherry’s testimony, also said she did not keep the producer up to date on a human resources investigation into the alleged incident. Wind, who is Cherry’s partner in Cherry/Wind Productions, also said she knew of no discussions about financial savings or “unprofessional behavior” on Sheridan’s part as reasons for killing off the actress’ character. Read More »

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UPDATE: Mark Pedowitz Takes Stand In ‘Desperate Housewives’ Trial

By | Tuesday March 6, 2012 @ 4:00pm PST

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

Desperate Housewives TrialUPDATE, 4 PM: Mark Pedowitz says Marc Cherry never discussed financial ramifications or Nicollette Sheridan’s alleged “unprofessional behavior” when the Desperate Housewives executive producer asked the then-ABC Studios president for permission to kill off the Edie Britt character in May 2008.

Contradicting testimony from Cherry that money and Sheridan’s professionalism were reasons for getting rid of the Britt character, Pedowitz did confirm today that he gave Cherry studio permission in a small meeting on May 22, 2008, to get rid of the character. “They were seeking permission from the studio to kill off the character,” Pedowitz said. Pedowitz, who left ABC Studios in January 2009, said Cherry told him the character was to be killed off because “there were no more stories to tell.” Later, Pedowitz told the jury, under questioning from defense attorney Adam Levin, that he had rejected an earlier attempt by Cherry to kill off the Britt character in season 3 of the series but he approved killing her off in season 5 because “the character in my mind had run its course.”

Pedowitz also testified this afternoon that in a later meeting that same day, then-ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson “blessed” the decision to kill off the Britt character. Pedowitz said that in the meeting with McPherson, Cherry and others, there were “ongoing conversations” about if the Britt character was to leave the series, “sooner or later.” Pedowitz said that both he and McPherson wanted it to happen “later, “preferably in May,” around the time of the season finale. Read More »

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UPDATE: Marc Cherry Says Eva Longoria & Felicity Huffman Were “Relieved” That Nicollette Sheridan Was Exiting Show

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

Desperate Housewives Trial

2ND UPDATE, 5 PM: Marc Cherry told the court that Nicollette Sheridan’s Desperate Housewives co-stars Eva Longoria and Felicity Huffman were “relieved” to hear that Sheridan’s character would be killed off the hit ABC series. They were, he testified, concerned that their deals might be affected by salary demands Sheridan might have been considering at the time. The show’s creator/executive producer testified that on or around the series’ 100th episode party on December 10, 2008 — more than two months before Cherry said he told Sheridan that she would be leaving the show – he told Longoria and Huffman that Sheridan’s character was being killed off to “calm them down”. Longoria and Huffman, both on the witness list for the trial along with fellow Housewives co-star Marcia Cross, were in Cherry’s office that December day to discuss conversations they had with Sheridan about all five stars renegotiating their contracts together to get a better deal out of the network. All five primary actresses on the hit series, along with Cherry, benefited from profit-sharing deals that grew the longer the series was on the air. Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: Modest Start For ‘GCB’

By | Monday March 5, 2012 @ 9:14am PST
Nellie Andreeva

ABC’s new soapy dramedy GCB launched last night with a modest 2.2/6 among adults 18-49 and 7.6 million total viewers. That was down 29% in the demo from the debut of Pan Am in the Sunday 10 PM slot in September. Lead-in retention-wise, GCB held onto 88% of the demo number for Desperate Housewives, to which it is hailed as a successor. (For Pan Am, retention was 100%). As for Desperate Housewives (2.5/6), the veteran seems to be picking up momentum as it heads to its series finale in May, up 14% from last week. At 8 PM, freshman hit Once Upon A Time (3.4/9) was up 10% as was America’s Funniest Home Videos (2.2/6). With no football or awards specials, Once Upon A Time ranked as the top program of the night in 18-49. ABC (2.6/7, 8.6 million) won the night in 18-49, matching its best Sunday demo finish in a year. Read More »

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‘Desperate Housewives’ Trial: Nicollette Sheridan Was Never A Star Of The Show, Defense Says

By | Friday March 2, 2012 @ 12:44pm PST

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

Nicollette Sheridan was never one of the stars of Desperate Housewives, the lead defense attorney in her suit against Housewives creator/executive producer Marc Cherry asserted today. Lining up to show that the death of Sheridan’s character Edie Britt was not an unusual occurrence for a network show, defense attorney Adam Levin went to great lengths to show that the actress was not of the same stature as Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman and Teri Hatcher on the hit ABC series. Levin cited pay differences between Sheridan and the other actresses; that Sheridan was not featured in a group shot in the show’s opening sequence; and that Sheridan was only nominated for a best supporting role by the Golden Globes in 2005 and never a best actress Globe or Emmy, as others on the show were. Read More »

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UPDATE: Nicollette Sheridan Re-Enacts Confrontation With Marc Cherry In Court: “I Couldn’t Believe He Hit Me”

By | Thursday March 1, 2012 @ 3:15pm PST

‘Desperate Housewives’ Trial Puts Behind-The-Scenes Drama In Spotlight

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

UPDATED, WRITETHRU: An emotional Nicollette Sheridan, with a stern-faced Marc … Read More »

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UPDATE: Nicollette Sheridan Will Be First On Stand As ‘Desperate Housewives’ Trial Wraps Opening Statements

By | Wednesday February 29, 2012 @ 4:35pm PST

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

3RD UPDATE, 4:35 PM: Stephen McPherson killed Edie Britt. That’s according to defense lawyer Adam Levin in his opening statement late this afternoon. Levin claims that the former ABC Entertainment president gave Desperate Housewives creator/executive producer Cherry the OK to kill off Nicollette Sheridan’s character on the series — months before an alleged head-slapping incident between the actress and Cherry. Levin told jurors that on May 22, 2008, Cherry along with fellow Housewives exec producer Bob Daily went to then-ABC Studios boss Pedowitz and asked him if they could kill off Sheridan’s character in a “tentpole” Season 5 story arc. Pedowitz agreed, and that same day the group went to McPherson with the idea. “The evidence will show,” Levin said, “that Mr. McPherson agreed”. Along with Sheridan and Cherry, who were both in court today, Pedowitz, Daily and McPherson are scheduled to testify in the two-week trial. “People die all the time on television”, Levin said, citing the collective decision. “It can increase buzz and revenue”. Levin also all but claimed that Sheridan’s assertion that Cherry hit her on set in September 2008 was the actress attempting to generate buzz and revenue for herself. Sheridan, “suffered no injury” when Cherry “lightly tapped” her on the head while giving her on-set direction that day. “She didn’t even have a red mark; she didn’t even take an aspirin,” Levin told the jury, dismissing the plaintiff’s contention that the actress was “hit hard,” as her lawyer claimed earlier. “The evidence will show she went to her trailer and the first call she made was to check her voicemail”. Concluded Levin: “Ms. Sheridan was not battered nor wrongfully terminated”. The trial continues Thursday.

2ND UPDATE, 4:15 PM: Both opening arguments have ended. Sheridan is schedule to be the first witness on the stand tomorrow morning at 9:15 and is expected to testify all day Thursday and the entire half-day session Friday. Read More »

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UPDATE: Jury Selection Still Underway In ‘Desperate Housewives’ Trial

By | Tuesday February 28, 2012 @ 4:38pm PST

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

UPDATE, TUESDAY 4:40 PM: A jury has still not been seated in the case, and selection will resume tomorrow at 1:30 PM once the potential juror panel has been replenished. Once selection is completed — hopefully by late in the afternoon — opening statements will begin. However, with Judge Elizabeth Allen White being strict about ending proceedings at 4:15 PM, it is unlikely opening statements will get far. Sheridan and Cherry were present in court all day Tuesday. Read More »

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