Hung jury in Nicollette Sheridan's 'Desperate Housewives' case
Four years after a sweeps week audience watched Edie Britt, the vampy real estate agent in "Desperate Housewives," draw her last breath, a Los Angeles jury said Monday it could not decide the cause of her death.
The judge in Nicollette Sheridan's wrongful-termination suit declared a mistrial after jurors said they were hopelessly deadlocked as to whether the actress' character was killed off on the ABC show in an act of retaliation or simply for creative reasons.
Nine members of the jury had to agree to return a verdict, and the foreman told Judge Elizabeth White that after discussions over three days, he saw no way to reach a decision. The jury found 8-4 in favor of Sheridan, one shy of a verdict.
Sheridan, 48, had sought at least $5.7 million from creator Marc Cherry and Touchstone Television Production.
The two-week trial offered jurors a behind-the-scenes look at the soap, which is to end this spring after eight seasons. The picture painted throughout the testimony of more than a dozen writers, executives and producers was often unflattering. Tabloid leaks from the set were a constant problem. There were salary disputes and tiffs over forgotten lines. Sheridan said Cherry talked down to her, and he recalled her as rude, tardy and unprepared for rehearsals. He recounted her fighting with co-star Teri Hatcher over forgotten lines and said two other stars, Felicity Huffman and Eva Longoria, were "relieved" when they learned she was leaving the show.
The jury heard numerous accounts of a 2008 rehearsal, which ended with Sheridan yelling, "You hit me! You can't hit me!" at Cherry and storming from the set. She testified that he had hit her "hard" in the temple when she questioned a line of dialogue. He said he had only tapped her to demonstrate a playful smack he wanted her to give her on-screen husband.
She complained and ABC's human resources department investigated, and cleared, Cherry. Four months later, she learned Edie was being eliminated from the show, and she later filed suit.
Much of the testimony focused on the timing of Cherry's decision to kill off Edie. Ten witnesses said he made it months before the on-set incident, but two writers for the show said her fate was not sealed until after.
-- Harriet Ryan and Victoria Kim
Left photo: Nicollette Sheridan. Credit: Valerie Macon / Getty Images
Right photo: Marc Cherry. Credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press