3 Examples of Why ABC Needs a Better Severance Package
By firing Nicollette Sheridan from Desperate Housewives, showrunner Marc Cherry has cruelly terminated the actress's main excuse to mime exaggerated blown kisses on the red carpet and pose next to free purses in gifting suites. As one can imagine, Sheridan is peeved about the development, and in a new TV Guide story, she directs most of her ire at Cherry ("When you have a jewel, why not polish it and put it out there for all to see?"), who, in turn, blames ABC's relentless cost-cutting mandate. While we understand ABC's desire to trim some of its most overstuffed casts in this economy, Sheridan is only the latest example of what's become a major ABC epidemic this past year: more so than any other network, it really, really pisses its fired actors off.
Take Grey's Anatomy, for example. Though finding a discontented star on that set is as common as a KCRW-friendly ballad on the soundtrack, the network's jarring push to fire Brooke Smith in the middle of her lesbian storyline struck a particularly discordant note. The actress dished all to EW's Michael Ausiello and accused the network of gay panic -- all this, before her last episode had even aired.
Prior to that, Lost's Harold Perrineau bitched to TV Guide about his Season 4 re-hiring and re-firing, and implied that his character's unceremonious end was the result of some racial profiling. Sadly, ABC didn't seem to learn its lesson from that shaky departure -- written-out star Rebecca Mader saw her exit marred by back-and-forth accusations of lying and vanity, and rumors are flying that a star whose character is killed off in the season finale didn't find out about the firing until scripts had already been sent to crew. Ouch.
Though Perrineau and Mader were free to say what they wanted at the time of their kerfuffles, Sheridan and Smith were regulars who were still technically under a season-long contract, so it's mystifying why their press duties weren't more closely monitored by ABC publicists. Then again, Ted Casablanca has a look inside the terrifying apparatus ABC has constructed to intimidate its stars from talking shit: a series of strongly-worded, pleading emails. That oughta do it!