Former “Desperate Housewives” star Nicollette Sheridan is suing ABC and the show’s creator, Marc Cherry, for $20 million, claiming that Cherry smacked her when she asked him about a script in her final season on the show.
The he said-she said has already started, with Sheridan’s lawyer saying “ABC was not willing or able” to curb Cherry’s allegedly abusive behavior and ABC Studios, which produces the show, saying it dismisseed a similar claim from the actress last year.
We have no idea at this point who’s telling the truth, but the case got us thinking about some other incidents in which actors bit the hand that fed them.
1) Katherine Heigl vs. “Grey’s Anatomy”
Heigl, who was released from her “Grey’s” contract last month, is the reigning champion of running down projects on which she’s worked. There was the complaint about the long hours, and the one about not getting “Emmy-worthy” material a few years back. Plus, her griping that her breakout movie role in “Knocked Up” was misogynist.
2) Chloe Sevigny vs. “Big Love”
In an interview with The A.V. Club last month, Sevigny called the just-finished season of her HBO series “awful,” then said she was quoted out of context (the interviewer posted an audio clip of the interview to provide said context). Was she wrong? Not necessarily — but best to keep that sort of thought to yourself.
3) Isaac Hayes vs. “South Park”
Hayes, who had voiced Chef on the take-no-prisoners cartoon for nine seasons, left the show shortly after it aired an episode that satirized Scientolgy, which Hayes had practiced for some 12 years. Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone promptly used previous clips of Chef lines from the show to say the character had been “brainwashed” into joining a “fruity little club.”
4) Paula Abdul vs. “American Idol”
The former “Idol” judge left the show last summer when her contract expired, amid reports that she wanted more money and more love from the network. Since then, her name has been attached to any number of projects — “Dancing with the Stars,” a “Star Search” reboot at ABC, “Idol” judge Simon Cowell’s American “X Factor” — but so far nothing’s come of any of it. “Idol,” meanwhile, remains the No. 1 show on TV.
5) David Caruso vs. “NYPD Blue”
The hugely popular first season of “NYPD Blue” made a breakout star out of Caruso — who promptly left the show to seek a movie career. One “Jade,” a handful of other films and an abortive return to TV (“Michael Hayes”) later, Caruso found solid ground on “CSI: Miami,” where he’s been whipping off his sunglasses for eight seasons.
6) Mandy Patinkin vs. CBS dramas
Patinkin is a well-liked and respected actor — and occasionally a restless one. He left “Chicago Hope” after two seasons in the mid-1990s, saying he wanted to spend more time with his wife, then returned for its final season in 1999-2000. He also departed CBS’ “Criminal Minds” after two seasons, this time over “creative differences.” Those hiccups don’t seem to have affected his stage or on-camera careers much, though.
7) Suzanne Somers vs. “Three’s Company”
After four seasons on the successful sitcom, Somers demanded a five-fold raise and a cut of the show’s profits. When she didn’t get it, she didn’t show up for filming on two episodes. The producers bit back, restricting her appearances to just a few seconds of screen time for the remainder of the season. Somers later sued ABC, claiming her reputation had been damaged, but the case went against her. Thanks to the Thighmaster and “Step by Step,” though, she came through OK.
And, as a counterpoint, there’s Hunter Tylo vs. Aaron Spelling. The “Melrose Place” producer hired Tylo away from “The Bold and the Beautiful” in 1996. She never appeared on the show, though, because Spelling fired her when he found out she was pregnant. Tylo sued him for discrimination and won; a jury awarded her nearly $5 million.
Photo credits: Getty Images (Sheridan, Heigl), CBS (Caruso)