Former "Desperate Housewives" star Nicolette Sheridan filed a $20 million lawsuit this week against ABC and show creator Marc Cherry.
Among the allegations she makes is that Cherry struck her in the face during a dispute and later fired her from the show as a means of retaliating against her when she complained to the network.
TMZ, which broke the story, also said that co-star Teri Hatcher went to the network on Sheridan's behalf and that Cherry made derogatory remarks against her.
Right off the bat, let me say that I'm not taking a side in this issue, since I wasn't there, nor do I know either party. Often, unfortunately, these cases are very much "he said, she said" and without witnesses, it's hard to tell what happened.
I'm covering the Ben Roethlisberger investigation in Milledgeville, and based on what I've learned in that case, investigators are in a similar boat with a lack of witnesses and physical evidence. As a reporter, just trying to deal in the facts, it makes it difficult when rumors start abounding about one party or the other.
Obviously, if Cherry did the things he is being accused of, he should be punished. But whether that can be proven is another thing entirely.
One thing that Sheridan has in her favor, in my mind, is that she's taking on a lot of risk by filing the lawsuit. Actresses over 40 don't have an easy time of it anyway, and by filing a lawsuit, Sheridan risks alienating other producers who might cast her if they believe she might be "difficult" at some point. Sheridan surely knows this but is pressing ahead anyway, which to me means she must have some strong convictions about this. Others, however, might argue that she could be looking for a big payday.
Hatcher, meanwhile, is in a tough position if she has to testify. On the one hand, if she did go to the network on Sheridan's behalf, then she must consider her a friend and a wronged colleague. But Hatcher also still has her job on the show and could be testifying against her own employers, should it come to that.
ABC said it launched its own investigation in 2008 (when Sheridan first filed a complaint with them, right after the incident) and said it turned up nothing conclusive. Did the network do a thorough investigation and genuinely couldn't make a case, or is it covering things up?
This case is shaping up to have much more drama than anything that happens on Wisteria Lane.
TIERNEY BACK: A double-dose of good news out of Hollywood. Not only is one of my favorite TV actresses, Maura Tierney, recovering from breast cancer surgery, but she's all set to reprise her role on "Rescue Me," producers Denis Leary and Peter Tolan told TVGuide.com.
Tierney won't be back until the 2011 season, but she's signed for at least four episodes. Tierney was cast in the pilot of NBC's "Parenthood" before having to drop out with her health issues.
WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: CBS loves doing backdoor pilots out of its various crime dramas, so it was only a matter of time before "Criminal Minds" (CBS, 9 p.m.) jumped on the bandwagon. The great Forest Whitaker guest stars as the head of another FBI team that would spin off into its own series if the episode generates enough buzz. It follows "Old Christine" and "Gary Unmarried," and precedes one of those other spinoffs, "CSI: NY."
Fox has been trumpeting a small but steady ratings uptick with "Human Target" (Fox, 8 p.m.) in the 18-49s, slightly increasing its chances for sticking around. It's ahead of the "American Idol" results show.
NBC has already renewed "Minute To Win It" (along with "The Marriage Ref" and "Who Do You Think You Are?) at 8 p.m., with a new "Law & Order: SVU" at 10 p.m.
On cable, there's a new "In Plain Sight" (USA, 10 p.m.)
Meanwhile, BBC America launches the sketch shows "Peep Show" and "That Mitchell and Webb Look" from 9-10 p.m.
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