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'Desperate Housewives' trial goes to jury

March 14, 2012 |  3:18 pm

Nicollette Sheridan

A jury Wednesday afternoon began considering Nicollette Sheridan’s wrongful termination suit against the creator of "Desperate Housewives'" and its studio.

The jury was handed the case after attorneys completed their closing statements.

Sheridan’s attorney said the decision by the soap’s creator, Marc Cherry, to kill off her character, Edie Britt, was a clear act of retaliation for an on-set incident in which she accused him of striking her.

The attorney, Mark Baute, said studio and network executives rushed to cover up for Cherry and his $1-billion " 'Desperate Housewives' money machine."

"It’s all about the Benjamins for management. It’s not about a woman getting hit in the head," Baute said as Sheridan sat nearby, staring at jurors.

He repeatedly called a human resources investigation that cleared Cherry a "whitewash" and said employees, including high-level executives, who testified that Edie's death was plotted months before, perjured themselves and falsified evidence to protect a powerful Hollywood player.

"They all got together and created a cute and superficial paper trail that suited their needs," he said. Their message to Cherry, he said, was "don’t worry, everyone agrees with your version of events, boss man."

Sheridan, who earned $4 million a year as well as back-end profits, is seeking economic damages of $5.7 million.

A lawyer for Touchstone Television Production and Cherry said there was only one word for the actress' conspiracy theory: "Desperate."

With Cherry looking on from the defense table, attorney Adam Levin said there was extensive evidence the writer had tapped Sheridan on the head only to demonstrate stage direction. He ran through the testimony of 10 witnesses who said Cherry had made the decision to eliminate Edie months before their clash at rehearsals. Five of those witnesses no longer worked for Touchstone or ABC, he said.

"What incentive does [witness and former ABC Entertainment chief] Steve McPherson, who is not even in the entertainment industry anymore, have to lie to you?" he asked jurors.

His argument is to continue Wednesday afternoon.


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-- Harriet Ryan

Photo: Actress Nicollette Sheridan outside the courthouse earlier this month. Credit: Toby Canham/Getty Images