“Desperate Housewives” Loses Its Cherry

Back in 2004, ABC debuted two new primetime dramas that blew up all over the place. One was “Lost.” The other was “Desperate Housewives.” Both shows got enormous opening ratings and helped ABC claw back from its fourth-place status. “Lost,” as you know, ended its celebrated run just a couple months ago. Ah, but “Housewives” is still around and, in light of current executive turmoil at ABC, more important to that network than ever. So it’s a bit of blow to learn today that showrunner Marc Cherry plans on ceding control of the show after next season. Deadline’s Ray Richmond reports:

He’s now penning a pilot for a potential new ABC series that he hopes will be up and running by next June. He wouldn't elaborate on what the pilot is about, only noting it "will not be set in suburbia".

“I’ve got a contract that keeps me around ABC for a few more years,” said Cherry, who is under a rich overall deal through the 2011-2012 season. “I hope (Housewives will be around) for a couple of more seasons, and my thing is I always will be executive producer and consultant on the show. It’s my baby. I can’t let go. I have control issues. They can’t totally get rid of me.”

But they’ll get rid of him a little bit. Cherry was sued earlier this year by former show costar Nicollette Sheridan, who alleged that Cherry was verbally and physically abusive to his subordinates (Cherry denies all of this). Perhaps all that drama has served to wear on the showrunner, who once said he’d never cede control of his baby.

Regardless, “Housewives” is a show that has grown visibly long in the tooth, and Cherry’s departure either marks its death knell or its creative reinvigoration. Maybe someone new is needed to come in and spice up the show. But you TV-savvy people out there know that, once the original showrunner is gone, the show usually goes downhill quickly thereafter (Seinfeld, Ren & Stimpy, etc.). Maybe “Housewives” will buck that trend, but it’s unlikely. May I suggest gratuitous nudity?

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