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TV Column
Posted at 06:33 PM ET, 03/19/2012

Judge declares mistrial in Nicollette Sheridan’s ‘Desperate Housewives’ case


Nicollette Sheridan (GUS RUELAS - REUTERS)

Nicollette Sheridan needed to convince just one more juror that Edie Britt, the character she played on “Desperate Housewives,” got bumped off because the actress complained that show creator Marc Cherry “walloped” her on the show’s set in September of 2008.

Sheridan failed, and so on Monday, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge declared a mistrial in the wrongful-termination civil lawsuit she’d brought against ABC for lost back-salary of nearly $6 million and potential punitive damages.

Sheridan’s lawsuit contends that Britt was electrocuted in spring 2009 after the actress said that Cherry struck her one day on the set. Cherry denied the “wallop” and testified that he’d tapped her on the head to demonstrate an example of how he wanted something done in a scene.

Cherry, as well as Steve McPherson, who is the former programming chief at “DH” broadcaster ABC, and Mark Pedowitz, who is the former head of the Disney division that actually makes the show, all testified that Cherry was given authority to kill off Britt months before Cherry tap/walloped Sheridan.s

At the end of two weeks, and several days of deliberation, the jury was split 8 to 4, with the majority siding with Sheridan. But she needed nine jurors to prevail.

According to the trade Web site the Hollywood Reporter, the jurors all voted exactly as they did on the first day, according to Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White.

Both sides have said they look forward to having another whack at the case it in another trial.

Meanwhile, in a made-for-TV “Desperate Housewives” drama, Sunday night’s episode — featuring the funeral of James Denton’s hot-plumber character, Mike Delfino — marked the show’s most-watched telecast in four months, with about 9 million viewers. That’s not even close to the more than 20 million that the prime-time soap opera enjoyed in its heyday. Or the 15 million who watched in March of ’09, as Britt survived a strangulation attempt and a getaway car crash, only to be electrocuted when she stepped out of her crashed vehicle and into a pool of water, which was already playing host to a live electrical wire.

On the bright side, “DH’s” audience of 9 mil last Sunday is virtually identical to the crowd that watched, that same night, the season-two finale of AMC’s zombie drama “Walking Dead.”

Except that though it’ s a fairly lousy “DH” number in the larger scheme of things, it’s a record audience for basic cable network AMC, and execs at that network broke out into a happy dance Monday when their numbers came out.

Which just goes to show you, once again, that all things are relative.

By  |  06:33 PM ET, 03/19/2012

 
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