(CN) – Former “Desperate Housewives” star Nicollette Sheridan says the show’s creator fired her and killed off her character because of her age and because she complained to ABC executives that he had smacked her across the face.
Sheridan, 46, played Edie Britt during the first five seasons of the satirical TV show. She claims series creator Marc Cherry admitted that her age played a factor in her dismissal during an interview. “We will find a new kind of sexiness through Wisteria Lane,” Cherry allegedly told reporters after firing her. “What I won’t do is cast another forty-something sexy blonde.”
Sheridan claims Cherry has a reputation for “behaving in an extremely abusive and aggressive manner” toward the show’s staff, and “is known for regularly demeaning writers and staff in front of others.”
During the 2008 season, Sheridan says Cherry directed his abuse at her.
Sheridan says she tried several times in July and August 2008 to meet privately with Cherry in order to “discuss his negative demeanor toward her and to discuss whether he had a problem with her work.”
Cherry finally agreed to meet with Sheridan on Aug. 18 and apologized for his “unprofessional and aggressive” behavior, according to Sheridan’s complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court.
But Sheridan says nothing changed.
On Sept. 24, 2008, Sheridan says she asked Cherry about a line in the script, and Cherry “took her aside and forcefully hit her with his hand across her face and head.”
Stunned, Sheridan says she yelled, “You just hit me in the head, that is not okay. That is not okay!”
Sheridan says she ran to her trailer, and Cherry followed her, “beg(ging) forgiveness.”
In February, Sheridan says the show’s producers fired her and wrote her character’s death into the script.
ABC allegedly refused to discipline Cherry for the incident and instead extended his contract by two seasons.
Sheridan says she was set to make $200,000 per episode during the 2009 season and $250,000 per episode in 2010.
Sheridan says she’s not the only one who’s been on the receiving end of Cherry’s wrath. “Desperate Housewives” co-star Teri Hatcher once talked to ABC executives about Cherry’s abusive behavior, according to the complaint. Cherry allegedly responded by saying, “I hope Teri Hatcher gets hit by a car and dies.”
Sheridan demands $20 million from Cherry, Touchstone Television Productions, ABC Studios and ABC Entertainment Group.
Mark Baute and Patrick Maloney with Baute & Tidus are representing her.