Just how long did Nicollette Sheridan have that target on her back?
"The belief was, the storytelling of Edie had pretty much finished. Her character had run its course," former ABC Studios executive and current CW president Mark Pedowitz testified Tuesday on behalf of series creator Marc Cherry, who is trying to prove that Sheridan's complaints about him to ABC hastened her season-five demise on Desperate Housewives.
Pedowitz said that he signed off on Edie Britt's death during a meeting with Cherry and then-president of ABC Entertainment, Steve McPherson, on May 22, 2008—four months before Cherry supposedly hit Sheridan on the head during an argument on set, as Sheridan alleges.
"Who ultimately was the one who killed off Edie Britt from ABC Studios?" inquired Cherry's attorney, Adam Levin.
Replied Pedowitz: "I did."
"[Edie] was a main series regular and it required the network studio to sign off" on her character's exit, he explained.
Pedowitz said that he was the one who told Cherry, when he approached the exec about killing Edie in season three, that "there was more storytelling left" for Sheridan's character.
The CW exec recalled one other time in which he was asked to sign off on a character death, that being during Desperate Housewives' first season, when Steven Culp's Rex Van De Kamp, the husband of Marcia Cross' Bree, was axed.
But while Cherry testified yesterday that Sheridan's Edie was killed off for creative, financial and H.R.-related reasons (he claims Sheridan's behavior had become increasingly unprofessional), Pedowitz testified today that he only signed off on the move for "creative" purposes and Cherry never brought up the other two.
But, Pedowitz added, he did mandate that all ABC series cut costs by 2 percent in 2008.
Cherry wanted Edie gone "sooner rather than later," Pedowitz said, but he and other ABC suits wanted Cherry to wait until May sweeps in 2009 to do it.
In documents obtained by E! News, Cherry outlined various plot points—including Edie's death at the hands of her wacko hubby—for the coming fifth season in May 2008. Sheridan's attorney has questioned the validity of Cherry's notes.
The first time Pedowitz heard about the allegedly violent dispute between Cherry and Sheridan was more than a month after it happened when he read a story about it in The National Enquirer at the grocery store—after which, he immediately contacted the publicity department of ABC Studios to launch an internal investigation, Pedowitz testified.
"We did not want this issue to play out like it is right now in court," he cracked, eliciting laughs from the courtroom.
Asked why he didn't have ABC's human resources department interview either Sheridan or Cherry, Pedowitz said that he trusted H.R.'s expertise in the matter.
Outside the courthouse, Sheridan's attorney, Mark Baute, speculated that Pedowitz "could have been offered a severance package" when he left ABC in 2010. Pedowitz's contract was not renewed, but, as Sheridan attorney Patrick Maloney said in court, he signed on as an advisor to the network before being named president of the CW in April 2011.
"We feel good about the testimony from Mr. Pedowitz," Levin said outside the courtroom.
Earlier in the day, longtime Sheridan attorney Neil Meyer testified that the actress never filed a complaint with H.R. because she "was concerned about retribution" from Cherry and was willing to "put her head down and go back to work."