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You could cast a pretty good TV series with the stars on the witness list in Nicollette Sheridan’s wrongful-termination civil trial against Marc Cherry and ABC. The group includes fellow Desperate Housewies stars Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Neal McDonough and James Denton.
However, it is now almost certain that none of those stars – with the possible exception of Denton — will come to the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles to testify in the Superior Court proceedings.
Lawyers on both sides tell THR that there is little that the actors can add, since none of them witnessed the Sept. 24, 2008, incident in which Cherry struck Sheridan’s head, none has personal knowledge of whether Cherry was retaliating when he killed off her Edie Britt character, and their presence would only create more of a carnival atmosphere.
There were rumors Longoria might still make a last-minute appearance, though they faded. She could testify as to whether Cherry, during a private meeting in December, really told her and Huffman he planned to kill off Sheridan’s character – more than a month before he told Sheridan.
But the trial already is running long. The judge has given the two sides until early next week to wrap up, and both have long lists of witnesses who can influence the case to hear from, including former ABC head Stephen McPherson, now scheduled to appear on Friday.
Had they testified, all of the stars were expected to be favorable witnesses for the defense – backing ABC’s version of events against their former co-star, who was axed from the show after season five.
One star who definitely won’t testify is Teri Hatcher, who was never on the witness list. Cherry, in testimony Tuesday, said he was called to the set early in the show’s run because of a real-life squabble between Hatcher and Sheridan, who played onscreen rivals for, among other things, Denton’s affection. “They were furious at each other,” Cherry said.
On Wednesday, after the court session, Sheridan’s attorney Mark Baute insisted that his client and Hatcher are now friends.
Denton, who plays Mike Delfino, the plumber who had a fling with Sheridan’s Edie Britt before marrying Hatcher’s Susan Meyer, is the one actor from the show still scheduled to testify. But his appearance Thursday is iffy at best.
Judge Elizabeth Allen White and the lawyers for both sides have said only those who can really add something are expected to testify.
So the only star the jury will hear from will be the plaintiff. Sheridan has shown regal bearing as she has sat on the witness stand or next to her lawyers throughout the case; Cherry has been a lively presence on the stand but otherwise sits silently with his lawyers on the other side of the long table in front of the judge’s elevated desk.
Sheridan arrives each morning dressed for her role in a dark pantsuit, white shirt and hair pulled back in a tight pony tail. On Wednesday, for a variation, she wore a skirt that was part of a dark blue suit. She has been supported each day by the presence in the courtroom of a group of friends who talk to her during breaks, go with her to lunch and accompany her in and out through the media gauntlet.
Thursday morning will see the resumption of testimony by Sabrina Wind, a Housewives executive producer and Cherry’s business partner, followed by a studio executive and another writer-producer if things go as planned. On Friday, former ABC head McPherson is scheduled to appear along with an ABC human resources executive.
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