The ‘Desperate Housewives’ creator says he was demonstrating “a physical bit of business” when he put his hand on Nicollette Sheridan's head
"Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry testified Monday that he "felt he had permission" to make contact with Nicollette Sheridan on the day of she claims he struck her.
The actress is alleging that Cherry gave her "a nice wallop" to the left side of her head and then killed off her character when she complained about the incident in her $6 million wrongful firing suit against Cherry and ABC.
The admission came in a contentious line of questioning from Sheridan's attorney Mark Baute in Los Angeles Superior Court. It began when he asked Cherry if he used his right hand.
Cherry said, "Used to what?"
Baute said, "I'm not going to get into adjectives like hit…"
Defense attorney Adam Levin objected as vague and Judge Elizabeth Allen White sustained the objection.
Baute re-phrased and asks what portion of Cherry's body came into contact with Nicollette Sheridan.
Cherry said, "My fingers." Baute asked, "On your right hand?"
Cherry said, "Yes, they are attached to my right hand."
Asked what part of Sheridan's body he made contact with, Cherry said the left side of her head, with an open hand.
Baute asked if Cherry asked permission to make contact with Sheridan.
Cherry said, "I felt I had permission."
When Baute repeated the question, Cherry said "permission was understood."
After Baute repeated the question in various forms, and the judge ordered Cherry to answer directly, Cherry said that "no," he did not ask permission to make contact with her.
Under questioning, Cherry recalled that Sheridan said, "You hit me. You can't hit me." before leaving the set upset immediately.
Cherry said his assistant Jason Ganzel, script supervisor Linda Leifer and director Larry Shaw were then talking to him about it and the issue of apologizing came up.
Cherry testified that he went outside and called his assistant Sabrina Wind, and she said they needed to report it to HR immediately.
In explaining the contact, Cherry said that his intent was to demonstrate a "physical bit of business" to end the scene.
He said Sheridan seemed confused with the verbal directions she was given, so he gave her a physical demonstration. His deposition was read out loud by Baute: "I resorted to demonstration to get my point across."
Cherry was visibly flustered and appeared frustrated several times, in contrast with his testimony earlier in the day.
Monday morning, Cherry testified that he did not have Sheridan's character Edie Brit killed off out of retaliation, but rather for creative reasons, to save money and because of Sheridan's "lack of professional behavior."
Asked if there are any emails or memos documenting the alleged unprofessional behavior, Cherry said he hasn't seen any.
When questioned further about her alleged unprofessional conduct and killing her off the show, Cherry said, "It wasn't my primary reason for my decision, but it was something I was aware of."
Sheridan was on the stand for most of the morning session, and testified that she did not report Cherry's alleged attack to ABC HR department when it occurred because "I was afraid I'd be retaliated against."
She also said that she had already reported it to line producer George Perkins and her attorney.
Her testimony also focused on a Dec. 5, 2008 letter from ABC’s human resources department that concluded its investigation into the incident on the set.
The letter said that producer’s apology over the incident had from the company's perspective ended the matter and no further action would be taken for “inadvertently upsetting [Sheridan].”
"I thought it was an appalling outrageous lie," Sheridan testified in regard to the letter. "It made no sense to me."
But under cross examination from defense lawyer Adam Levin Monday, she admitted that she did not contact the studio to disagree with its assertions.