Nicollette Sheridan: I Was Victim of a ‘Desperate Housewives’ Salary Gap

by | March 1, 2012 at 4:59 PM | Desperate Housewives

Nicollette Sherdian (Photo: ABC)


By Brent Lang & Pamela Chelin

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) – As “Desperate Housewives” entered its third season, actress Nicollette Sheridan became “concerned” that she was not receiving the same compensation as her co-stars.

The remarks came in a Los Angeles Superior Court as part of Sheridan’s $6 million wrongful termination suit against against ABC and the show’s creator Marc Cherry.

In her suit, Sheridan claims she was unfairly ousted from the series after complaining that Cherry had slapped her during a 2008 argument. Her character, Edie Britt, was killed off after five seasons on the hit series.

Sheridan did not specifically discuss the circumstances surrounding the altercation with Cherry, but said that he hit her during the filming of the seventh episode of the show’s fifth season.

She did say Cherry kept rewriting the episode in question, giving her character less and less to do with each new draft. That was markedly different than the way that Edie Britt was usually deployed by the show-runner, Sheridan testified.

“Whenever Edie was leaving a scene, she was always doing something or being funny,” she said.

Wearing a navy blazer, a skirt and reading glasses, Sheridan took the stand on Thursday morning, the first witness in the case. Her blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail.

Her clean-cut appearance was in stark contrast to a series of sexually provocative clips from the show that were played for the 14-person jury. In the montage, she was seen having sex in a hospital and washing a car in a suggestive manner as her character.

“That was embarrassing,” Sheridan said with a laugh after the clips finished.

The actress’ former “Desperate Housewives” co-stars — Eva Longoria, Marcia Cross and Felicity Huffman — are expected to testify on behalf of Cherry.

Former ABC president Steve McPherson is expected to be a witness for Sheridan.

Under questioning from her attorney Patrick Maloney, Sheridan provided insight into her contract, the writing of the long-running ABC series and her promotional activities on behalf of “Desperate Housewives.”

Sheridan also discussed the contrast between herself and Britt, describing her character as ”colorful sexy, overt and audacious.”

“I believe she had a heart and she’s honest sometimes in a shocking way … I think honesty is about the only thing we share,” she added.

Sheridan described Cherry as “in control of absolutely everything” related to the series. She also depicted the showrunner as something of a perfectionist, noting that in the show’s second season the actresses did table reads where they read the series’ scripts, which were then sent back and revised multiple times.

Nor was the fifth season, the only time that Cherry dangled the possibility of killing off Edie Britt. In the third season finale, the showrunner left Britt dangling from a noose, but reassured the actress that he would save her character.

At a table reading to kick off the fourth season, Cherry even joked that Britt had been granted relative immunity.

“We know one character we won’t be killing off and that’s Edie Britt,” Cherry joked.

Sheridan said that in happier times, she received a $125,000 bonus after the first season and a note from a top executive associated with the show saying that she was robbed after not receiving an Emmy nomination.

Cherry was in the courtroom as Sheridan testified, flanked by his attorneys.

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