March 14, 2012 6:00am PT by Eriq Gardner
Next 'Housewives' Trial: Teri Hatcher Fights Former Partner Over Computer-Hacking Claim
Over the past couple of weeks, Nicolette Sheridan’s lawsuit over her firing and alleged assault by Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry has provided scintillating drama. It would seem that no Housewives legal drama could top this trial, but a Sheridan co-star might be about to try.
In 2010, Teri Hatcher was sued by Jennifer Glassman, an industry marketing vet who has worked at Paradigm and New Line. Glassman alleged that she was pushed aside from running Hatcher’s production company, ISBE Prods., which sold shows to ABC and Lifetime. The case is now a must-watch affair in its own right: On one side is Hatcher, who is claimed to be a moody star who would make unusual requests of her partner; on the other side is Glassman, who is alleged to have broken into ISBE’s computers, stole Hatcher’s most private information and wreaked havoc.
In the original lawsuit, Glassman said she was convinced by Hatcher to leave her PR job to play a big role at ISBE, set up at ABC. She claims credit for helping sell projects including Burnt Toast to Lifetime and two scripts, Fried and Mercury Rising, to ABC. She also says she responded to Hatcher’s whimsical demands, from scheduling doctor appointments to hiring a dog trainer.
Glassman says she was promised a partnership and 50 percent of profits but never had a fully executed contract. Regardless, Glassman contends that Hatcher soured on her shortly before the star’s website was launched and a big check came in the mail. She asserts that Hatcher and ABC parent Disney concealed that they intended to treat her as an at-will employee and that Hatcher terminated her in 2010 and told all her business contacts in a mass e-mail that Glassman was no longer working with her.
What happened after Glassman and Hatcher parted ways has developed into a dramatic episode worthy of Desperate Housewives, perhaps if the nighttime soap imagined hackers infiltrating Wisteria Lane.
On April 7, after months of unsuccessfully asking a judge to throw out Glassman’s claims on grounds that the plaintiff destroyed evidence and used privileged information in her lawsuit, Hatcher filed a countersuit against her ex-associate.
According to the cross-complaint, Glassman, after her employment was terminated, broke into ISBE’s computer network using Hatcher's identity, read Hatcher's e-mail, changed passwords to various email accounts, deleted some e-mail accounts, altered data in security questions and copied thousands of emails and documents onto her own computer.
The documents on the network included Hatcher's private financial info; sensitive documents pertaining to ongoing and potential Hatcher litigation; Hatcher’s licensing deals and endorsement disputes; documents regarding Hatcher's personal life including her health, custody and personal relationships; and documents about Hatcher's non-Desperate Housewives activity including unpublished scripts and potential projects.
The actress is no stranger to litigation: Her legal past includes defending a lawsuit from Hydroderm over allegedly violating an exclusive endorsement deal by touting a competing lip gloss, suing the Bally's health club chain for endorsement money owed and making a libel claim against a British tabloid for saying she had sex in a Volkswagen van parked outside of her home.
She now wants at least $100,000 in damages from Glassman for knowingly and without permission hacking into her computer, refusing to return her property and breaching the confidentiality provisions of a consulting contract Glassman had with ISBE.
Glassman’s attorney didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
A trial conference in this case is scheduled for June, Hatcher seems likely to take the witness stand. She was not called in Sheridan's wrongful-termination case.