Yup, if Nicollette Sheridan’s new $20 million physical assault lawsuit is to be believed. The now-former Desperate Housewives actress says the series’ creator Marc Cherry slapped her across the face when she questioned something in the script during a rehearsal. But the bigger question is: Is Marc Cherry actually a serial abuser?

On-lookers would’ve been justified in thinking Sheridan left the show in 2009 in Season 5 by her own volition, as that’s how the gossip mill packaged the story. Sheridan was the one branded a villain in the tabloids, much like her Housewives character. Her new lawsuit, however, says Cherry, who is gay, was the reason she left; he fired her.

According to her complaint, via THR Esq.:

* Sheridan says the assault went down like this: “On September 24, 2008, during a rehearsal for the show, when Sheridan questioned Cherry about something that was in the script, Cherry took her aside and forcefully hit her with his hand across her face and head.”
* She says she was “physically and emotionally injured, humiliated and stunned by Cherry’s sudden physical violence and stated, ‘you just hit me in the head, that is not okay. THAT IS NOT OKAY!’ ”
* Sheridan says Cherry’s abusive behavior was well-known on the set: “After an incident where Sheridan’s co-star on the show Teri Hatcher went above Cherry’s head to speak to ABC executives, Cherry told Sheridan, ‘I hope Teri Hatcher gets hit by a car and dies.’ ”
* Sheridan, whose character was killed off near the end of Season 5, also says her compensation for the show was $175,000 an episode for her fifth year, $200,000 for her sixth season and $250,000 for her seventh. She claims she stood to earn millions if she hadn’t been fired.

ABC says it already investigated her claims and found them without merit. Which, to be fair, is in its interest to do — no television exec likes on-air drama of the violent sort, and sweeping something like this under the rug is of course the first reaction. Which isn’t to say Sheridan’s version of the story actually happened. Like most of these things, the truth lies somewhere in between. As Housewives fans know all too well.

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