War on Wisteria Lane: 'Housewives' star claims she was hit and then written out

On screen, the cast of Desperate Housewives gossip, sleep around, and peer enviously at neighbours over their impeccable white picket fences. But the real drama begins when the director shouts "cut!" and they return to their highly strung lives away from Wisteria Lane.

That, at least, is the view of Nicollette Sheridan, who played estate agent Edie Britt in the hit programme and has filed a lawsuit claiming she was sacked after being physically assaulted by the show's creator.

Sheridan's character was killed off last year by electrocution from a falling telephone wire. She now claims this sticky end was deliberately engineered by the creator of Desperate Housewives, Marc Cherry, as payback for a long-running and, at one point, physical dispute between them.

The British-born actress alleges that she and Cherry's tense relationship spilled over during rehearsals for its fifth series in September 2008. "When Sheridan questioned Cherry about something that was in the script, Cherry took her aside and forcefully hit her with his hand across her face and head," reads the 18-page suit filed at Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday. "Sheridan was physically and emotionally injured, humiliated and stunned."

After she complained to bosses at the broadcaster ABC, Sheridan alleges that Cherry retaliated by having her fired. "It is exceptionally unusual for a popular character to be killed off or written out of a television series unless the actor has requested to be released," the suit continues.

Sheridan claims she suffered "wrongful termination", "assault and battery" and "gender violence" and is seeking compensation totalling $20m (£13.3m).

The actress alleges she responded to Cherry's attack with the comment: "You just hit me in the head. That is not ok. That is not ok!" Shortly afterwards, the lawsuit claims that the director "acknowledged that he had gone too far and went to Sheridan's trailer in an effort to, as he put it, 'beg forgiveness'".

Since the launch of Desperate Housewives in 2004, public fascination with the show, about a prosperous suburban cul-de-sac, has consistently revolved around the allegedly fraught relations between its female leads.

A Vanity Fair profile published at the peak of the show's popularity saw all five of the stars posing in swimwear. "You wouldn't believe what it took just to get this photo!" read the headline.

ABC responded to the lawsuit last night with a statement. "While we have yet to see the actual complaint, we investigated similar claims made by Ms Sheridan last year and found them to be without merit," it read.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: PR Account Manager / AM

£20-30K(DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a PR Account M...

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Account Executive

Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: One of the UK’s largest and most s...

Guru Careers: Marketing and Communications Manager

£Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing and Co...

Guru Careers: Digital Designer / Interactive Designer

£ Highly Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Digital Designer / Interactive Des...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence