March 02, 2012 12:51pm PT by Alex Ben Block
'Desperate Housewives' Trial: Nicollette Sheridan Grilled in Heated Cross-Examination
Nicollette Sheridan was shaken several times during her testimony Friday in the trial over the actress' 2009 firing from Desperate Housewives, with lead defense attorney Adam Levin hammering at item after item where her recollections appeared to deviate from what she said earlier in depositions and on the stand Thursday.
Levin noted that in her sworn statement to a California agency, she had described her being struck by Housewives producer Marc Cherry as a "slap," while in court she said had been "hit" and had defined a slap as different than a hit.
“I feel you are misconstruing what was done to me,” said a frustrated Sheridan, raising her voice several times to an angry tone. When pressed on her previous statement, Sheridan said, “I didn’t fill out this document,” referring to the state filing. “My lawyer wrote that.”
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When asked to confirm that she had read the document and signed it, Sheridan said yes but said she "didn’t notice “ the difference in how the incident was described at that time.
Under questioning, Sheridan also admitted she had an ongoing frustration with Cherry for not giving her funny lines on the show. She said she felt that Edie Britt, her character, should have something funny to say most of the time. Sheridan also said that in her discussions with Housewives writers, they told her that when they came up with funny lines for Edie, Cherry often told them not to use those lines.
“It was an ongoing frustration for them,” said Sheridan.
Later in the day, Sheridan said she felt Cherry “didn’t give Edie the time and attention she deserved.”
Sheridan is the first witness in her multimillion-dollar wrongful-termination lawsuit against Cherry and ABC. Sheridan claims she was fired during the show's fifth season in retaliation for complaining about being hit by Cherry on the set of the long-running dramedy.
In response to other questioning, Sheridan admitted that she had been grateful to Cherry when, in the early days of Housewives, he had helped her get close to pay parity with the show's other female stars. She previously had testified that she had been unhappy that other actresses made more money than she did, even though she had an equal role, got as much publicity and was just as featured. She said eventually Cherry did help her “close the gap,” though she still did not make as much as the other lead actresses.
Levin then asked questions to show that Sheridan’s picture does not appear in the opening credits with the other actresses. He also brought out that, in 2005, when several of the others were nominated for Golden Globes and Emmys, it was for best actress; Sheridan was nominated by the Globes as best supporting actress.
He also brought out that after she was struck by Cherry, Sheridan had gone off to lunch in Beverly Hills with a friend, had not contacted ABC human resources and had not called the police to report the incident.
Sheridan testified that she did make calls to others and the next day spoke to another producer on the show. When the producer asked how he could help, she said she wanted Cherry to apologize again and to send her flowers. The producer called back later to say Cherry felt he had already apologized right after the incident and would not do anything else.
Levin, who often looked at the jury instead of Sheridan, was criticized by the actress at one point. “You keep looking at the jury," she said. "I feel like you are asking them the question.”
After that Levin did look more directly at her.
Near the end of Friday's session, Levin listed all of the many actors who had come and gone on the show and noted those who had died as part of the plot. Levin brought out that Sheridan had said at a press conference in July 2008 that “Marc tried to kill off Edie Britt every year.”
When asked about that, Sheridan said she meant that was a trick used on the show. She said it seemed as if Cherry ended every season with a tease about a character and whether they would live or die. “It was a consistent dangle into the next season,“ Sheridan said.
The day concluded with the showing of a seven-minute video montage of every Housewives character who was killed off, which amounted to roughly 43 actors.
Other witnesses expected to testify are Sheridan's former co-stars Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman and Marcia Cross, as well as various ABC executives and Cherry.