'Desperate' producer: I ran out of husbands for Edie to steal
"Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry testified Wednesday that he killed off Wisteria Lane seductress Edie Britt in the fifth season because there were simply no more male characters for her to bed.
"We had played out as many romantic complications with each of the women's husbands" as possible, Cherry told a Los Angeles jury in a wrongful termination suit brought by Nicollette Sheridan, the actress who played Edie.
She had dalliances with the spouses or former spouses of three of the main housewives (characters played by Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria and Marcia Cross), and the husband of the fourth (played by Felicity Huffman) "would never cheat," Cherry said.
Sheridan alleges that Cherry eliminated her character as an act of retaliation after she complained that he had struck her in the head during an on-set dispute over dialogue. She was earning about $4 million a year as Edie Britt and her lawyer has said the departure cost her $6 million in economic damages.
In his testimony, Cherry said he had toyed with plotting Edie's demise for years, even going so far as to seek approval from the show's studio, Touchstone, and its network, ABC, in the third season. That request was denied by executives who worried she was too important to the show, he said.
He proposed her death again two years later as a way to spice up a show with declining ratings, he said.
Sheridan previously testified that there was no discussion of killing off her character until after the September 2008 incident in which Cherry struck her. But Cherry, who has said he only tapped her head as a stage direction, said the decision was a closely guarded secret.
As Sheridan looked on from the defense table, Cherry said unprofessional behavior by Sheridan was a secondary consideration in writing her off the show. Asked for examples, Cherry paused and frowned before answering.
Referring to Sheridan as "the actress," he said that during read-throughs of the script she sometimes made insulting comments which he found "hugely rude and hugely upsetting to the writers."
He said she often forgot her lines even in episodes where she had little to memorize.
"She only had five or six lines ... and she didn't know any of them," Cherry said. He recalled one rehearsal in the first season he had to be summoned to the set because Hatcher was furious with Sheridan's her lack of preparation.
— Harriet Ryan
Photo: Nicollette Sheridan appears as Edie Britt in "Desperate Housewives." Credit: ABC