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Desperate Housewives set for final season on ABC

by on August 8th 2011 at 1:59 am

Teri Hatcher of Desperate Housewives/ABC photo

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- ABC's signature series of The Aughts will be heading down Wisteria Lane toward memory lane.

The network announced Sunday that the upcoming eighth season of Desperate Housewives also will be its last.

Entertainment president Paul Lee termed it a "victory lap" for the Sunday night serial drama, which "sort of put this network on the map" and helped to brand ABC  as a prime-time address for weekly hours of empowered  women. A full complement of 22 episodes will take DH to the finish line.

The show's creator and executive producer, Marc Cherry, later was brought onstage to underscore ABC's basic talking point that the feeling was mutual about bringing DH to a close before it began to badly limp.

"The only thing harder than creating a hit show is knowing when to end it," he said. "It's something that's weighed on my mind for quite a while now."

His 23 years as a television producer/writer have made him "very aware of people over-staying their welcome," Cherry said. "Shows kind of go on too long and people just forget about them. They drift away into nothing, and then they're unceremoniously booted off. And I just didn't want that to happen to Desperate Housewives."

Cherry said he "started talking to the gals" Friday and Saturday about the decision to call it quits. "I have nothing but gratitude, and I'm so thrilled that we're going to end this in the classiest way possible," he said.

A healthy skepticism is generally well-founded under such circumstances. DH has still been doing reasonably well in the prime-time ratings, although it's no match for NBC's competing Sunday Night Football games. The show's cast also has grown increasingly expensive, with charter members Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman and Marcia Cross all still in the fold.

"There was a touch of shock, but not completely" when individual cast members were given the news, Cherry said. He's so far contacted about half of DH's regulars, Cherry said, including Longoria, whom he purportedly loves "more than life itself."

"She is such a joy," Cherry said. "We both laughed and got a little teary on the phone together."

Although once in the pipeline, there'll be no DH spinoff, he said. "I don't want to be one of those guys that just repeats himself constantly . . . I'm really trying to just broaden and deepen and challenge myself."

Cherry said his wheels already are turning on how the last episode will play out. "I want to pay homage," he said, "to everyone who's been on the show. So we'll see what happens with that."

At least one former key character, Nicollette Sheridan's saucy Edie Britt, was killed off at the end of Season 5. In spring 2010 she filed a $20 million lawsuit against Cherry, claiming she was assaulted by him on the DH set and then written out of the show when she reported the alleged incident to ABC. A trial is tentatively scheduled for this October, with the show's other principal women stars all saying they'll support Cherry. ABC, for its part, has said that Sheridan's claims are groundless.

Asked whether the final season of DH might "invoke Edie" without actually showing her on-screen, Cherry said, "I don't know how I would do that."

Cherry quickly exited and was not available for followup questions after his appearance. His new project for ABC is Hallelujah, which is being re-developed after a pilot episode failed to jell.

"Half of it was terrific and half of it wasn't," Cherry said. "So our attitude is we will do this when it is right and terrific, because it is so unusual in terms of its tone and its aspiration. You kind of have to get it perfect. It's a big swing."

As originally conceived, Hallelujah is a battle of good vs. evil in a same-named Tennessee town. Donal Logue (Terriers) and Terry O'Quinn (Lost) respectively have been cast as the owner of a local diner whose arch enemy is an oily millionaire who controls just about everything. Another familiar TV face, Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order), also was in the original pilot as an incoming stranger and potential town savior.

ABC's Lee said he wants to give Hallelujah a second shot because he has faith in both Cherry and the show's concept. And Cherry soon expects to be able to devote more energy to it, even though he yearns to do something simpler.

"I swear, my next show is just going to be two guys in a prison cell," he said. "Because I need something way easier than Desperate Housewives.

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