Desperate Housewives' Mark Cherry Reveals That One of His Show's Stars 'Is Not Funny'

Mark Cherry - "Desperate Housewives" SPLIT
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Though he didn't name names at the Producers Guild's Produced By Conference, he said of himself, "I'm part daddy, part psychiatrist."

Desperate Housewives showrunner Marc Cherry, who's already embroiled in a sex discrimination and illegal termination lawsuit filed by Nicollette Sheridan, apparently isn't worried about offending the sensibilities of the actresses on his show.

During a panel of ABC network showrunners held Saturday at the Producers Guild's Produced By Conference in Burbank, Cherry draw laughs when he described how he has had to coax performances out of one of his stars.

"One of my actresses on Desperate Housewives is not funny," he said, before offering that he coaches her by saying, "Sweetie, if you raise your eyebrow here, you'll get a laugh." Cherry didn't reveal the actress in question, but continued, "She does, and she gets nominations. Daddy's little girl does comedy. I'm part daddy, part psychiatrist."

Other panelists agreed that although the showrunner is the ruler in television, he or she must also play the role of parent, teacher, therapist, accountant and even student.

Of course, that's all in addition to the showrunner's writing duties.

Panelist Darren Star, whose shows have included Melrose Place and Sex and the City, remarked, "You don't have a life when you're running a show." As Lost's Damon Lindelof put it, "You wake up and realize, 'Oh, I've been thinking about the show for the last six hours while I slept!'"

Learning new skills is a constant. Cherry confessed, "This is going to be Desperate Housewives' first year on HD, and I'm so scared." Andrew Marlowe (Castle) added that "learning how to operate in the editing room and on-set makes you a better writer."

Post-work for Lindelof even included participating in a scoring session involving a 60-piece orchestra. That's expensive, of course, which is why it's a rarity in television today. As Marlowe commented, "A showrunner has to deliver "scope and scale across a season even in the face of fiscal constraints."

The discussion also touched on the proliferation of "producer" titles, a matter of concern for the PGA. In particular, co-EP titles have recently multiplied, often in lieu of salary bumps. "We throw them out like candy," said Cherry, while Lindelof remarked, "we'll give (a writer) a funny hat too and call him Captain Co-EP if that's what's needed to close a deal."

Which Desperate Housewives actress do you think Marc Cherry is referring to? Is it Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman or Vanessa Williams? Tell us in the comments.

Twitter: @jhandel