'Housewives' creator denies anger at Sheridan

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By ANTHONY McCARTNEY, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anger didn't factor into the decision to kill off Nicollette Sheridan's role on "Desperate Housewives," despite her complaints that her boss hit her on the set, the show's creator testified Thursday.

Marc Cherry concluded his testimony in the actress' wrongful termination case by denying claims from Sheridan's attorneys that he tried to influence the statements of other employees on the show to fit his version of the dispute. A longtime executive producer on the show corroborated with Cherry's version, saying he learned that Sheridan's role would be eliminated months before the September 2008 dispute.

Cherry and other witnesses have said approval to kill off Sheridan's character Edie Britt was given in May 2008, four months before the actress accused Cherry of striking her hard in the head during a discussion of a scene. George Perkins, an executive producer who wasn't present for the May meeting, said he learned about plans for Britt's death the following month and had the impression it was a final decision.

Perkins also informed human resources about the dustup between Cherry and Sheridan.

Cherry testified that he was simply trying to convey some direction to the actress on how to use physical humor.

Sheridan, 48, told jurors last week she was stunned and humiliated by the blow, which she described as a wallop. She testified Cherry informed her that her character would be killed off in February 2009 and told her that he had just made the decision.

Actor James Denton, who rehearsed and shot with Sheridan the day of her dispute with Cherry, told jurors he didn't learn of Britt's death until he received a script detailing it the following year.

"I can't say I was shocked, only because people get killed so often," he testified.

Jurors have seen plenty of evidence about the many deaths of "Desperate Housewives." They were frequently told 48 characters have been killed on the series, and were shown a montage of the various methods, including beatings, shootings, car crashes, stabbings and, in Britt's case, electrocution.

The actor also told the jury he had great affection for both Sheridan and Cherry, who have been locked in a heated court battle since she sued over her firing in April 2010.

"I don't really think I helped or hurt anybody," Denton said outside the courtroom. He had been called by Cherry's lawyers and spent only a few minutes on the stand, but described the experience as "brutal."

He will be the only other series star to testify during the trial. Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White ruled that defense attorneys cannot call Eva Longoria as a witness.

He and other actors are filming the final episodes of the series and the case has been talked about on the set. "It's really disappointing for us," Denton said.

Denton's testimony provided more star power to the case but didn't contribute to the conflicting evidence jurors will have to sift through when testimony concludes next week.

"Desperate Housewives," a glossy prime-time comedy/soap opera with an ensemble cast including Teri Hatcher and Longoria, made a pop-culture and ratings splash when it premiered in 2004 but has seen its audience dwindle. The show is in its final season.

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ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co.

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Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP

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