The creator of "Desperate Housewives" testified Monday that his decision to kill off the character Edie Britt was made months before the actress who portrayed her accused him of battery.
Marc Cherry told jurors in a wrongful termination suit brought by actress Nicollette Sheridan that he plotted the trampy Wisteria Lane real estate agent's demise to "shake things up" creatively on the ABC show and not as retribution.
But, in a daylong turn on the witness stand, Cherry acknowledged that eliminating Edie had the added benefit of ridding the show's budget of Sheridan's $4 million salary and him of what he described as a disruptive and unprofessional presence on the set.
"It wasn't the primary reason for my decision, but it was something I was aware of," Cherry said under questioning by an attorney for Sheridan.
He is expected to elaborate on his problems with Sheridan on Tuesday when questioned by his own lawyer; but Sheridan's attorney, Mark Boute, summarized deposition testimony in which Cherry said the actress arrived late for work, forgot lines, was "nasty" to a prop master and criticized scripts and co-workers.
Asked about the reaction of co-stars Eva Longoria and Felicity Huffman to news that Sheridan's character was destined for a fatal electrocution, Cherry said, "They were relieved."
Sheridan previously testified that Cherry smacked her "hard" in the temple during 2008 rehearsals after she repeatedly complained about the removal of a funny line. Cherry insisted he only tapped her lightly as part of a stage direction.
"Did you ask permission?" Boute asked him.
"Permission was understood," Cherry replied.
"Yes or no," the lawyer pressed.
"I didn't need to. Permission was understood," Cherry said.
He agreed that Sheridan was stunned and upset immediately and that he quickly apologized and told her he felt awful about it.
"How long did you feel awful about it?" Boute asked.
"Well," Cherry said, looking pointedly around the packed courtroom. "Going on about 3 1/2 years now."