A former "Desperate Housewives" writer and exec producer provided the latest twist in Nicollette Sheridan's wrongful termination suit against Marc Cherry and ABC on Wednesday, contradicting Cherry's testimony that the decision to kill off the actress's character had been made four months before she claimed her boss struck her on the set.
Sheridan is suing for $6 million.
Cherry testified earlier — as did former ABC Studios president Mark Pedowitz on Tuesday — that authorization from top studio and network executives to kill off Sheridan’s character Edie Britt came on May 22, 2008. Cherry said the decision was discussed at a writers retreat in Las Vegas that same month.
He said a photograph of note cards from the sessions that included the coded message “Steve drinks OJ” signaled that Britt’s days were numbered.
The “Steven drinks OJ” message was a reference to O.J. Simpson, who was acquitted of killing his wife, Cherry testified. Steven was the name “Desperate Housewives” writers attached to Britt’s husband for the fifth season (the character’s name was later changed to Dave).
Wednesday afternoon, however, former "Housewives" exec producer and writer Lori Kirkland Baker testified that the first time she heard about the decision to kill Britt was in December 2008, when Cherry said that he had "just got permission" from ABC Network president Stephen McPherson to end the role.
She also said that she was at the Las Vegas writers retreat but had not seen the index card that Cherry testified were there.
Kirkland later testified that Cherry's producing partner Sabrina Wind said in an October 2008 writers meeting, after seeing a National Enquirer headlined with Sheridan's claim of being struck, that "this is only going to make things worse between Mark and Nicollette."
Under questioning from Cherry's attorney Adam Levin, Baker acknowledged that she was not present for all discussions about plot points and that she considered suing Cherry after her contract was not renewed for the sixth season of “Desperate Housewives.”
She said that she contacted Sheridan’s attorney Mark Baute, who declined to take her case.
Earlier Wednesday, Cherry said Sheridan repeatedly exhibited unprofessional behavior on the "Desperate Housewives" set.
"I observed egregious examples of unprofessionalism at read-throughs of scripts," he said, citing "insulting comments about her dialog," which "was hugely rude and upsetting to the writers in the room."
Cherry also testified that she had problems memorizing her lines.
"She only had five or six lines and she'd come to the set and wouldn't know any of them," he said about one scene, adding that this happened more than once.
Cherry also testified that Sheridan had problems with her co-stars and cited a first-season spat with Teri Hatcher.