Former Touchstone and ABC Studios president Mark Pedowitz testified Tuesday that he approved "Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry's plan to kill off Nicollette Sheridan's character in May of 2008 — four months before the actress claims she received "a good wallop" from Cherry.
Sheridan alleges in her $6 million wrongful termination in Los Angeles Superior Court that Cherry struck her at a Sept. 24, 2008, rehearsal and then killed off her character in retaliation for her complaining about the incident.
Pedowitz, the current entertainment president at The CW, said he and Steve McPherson, president of the ABC network at the time, gave the OK to kill off Sheridan's character Edie Britt at the request of the show's creative team on May 22, 2008.
The approvals came at meetings held to discuss the show's direction prior to its fifth season. Pedowitz said Cherry and the "Desperate Housewives" team felt "there was no more storytelling" for Sheridan's character, and they were "seeking approval to kill off the character."
Pedowitz said his permission was required because she was a main series regular, which required both studio and network behind the show to sign off if the character is to be killed off.
Both the network and studio wanted the character to be killed off "later than sooner," Pedowitz said, preferably within May sweeps at end of the season. Cherry, however, wanted to kill off the character in November, he said.
Under questioning from Cherry's attorney Adam Levin, Pedowitz said that Cherry had wanted to kill off Edie in the show's third season. But Pedowitz didn't approve the decision because, "We believed there was more storytelling left in her."
Levin asked about the May 22, 2008, meeting and why this time he approved the character's death.
"The character in my mind had run its course," Pedowitz said.
Asked why Sheridan wasn't informed about the fate of her character after the decision in 2008, Pedowitz said that "we hadn't yet determined when we were going to do it, and by the time they did tell her, I was no longer in that position." Pedowitz left his post in 2009.
He testified that he only once revisited he decision on Edie, when he saw the October 2008 cover of the National Enquirer, which headlined the slapping incident.
Pedowitz said, "I did not want the situation to play out like it is today in court."
Levin asked if Cherry or McPherson ever wavered on the decision.
"No," Pedowitz said.
Cherry took the stand briefly Tuesday afternoon, seeking to counter claims by Sheridan's attorneys that "Desperate Housewives" was a comedy.
"'Desperate Housewives' was my first attempt at writing a show that wasn't a sitcom." Cherry said, "and it became a big hit. I wish I'd have done it sooner."
He added, "I love writing drama when you see the devastation of personal lives."