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'Housewives' Creator Was Desperate for a Success

23 Aug, 2005 By: Brendan Howard

Marc Cherry

Even with the wild success of his ABC show “Desperate Housewives” and its impending first-season DVD release Sept. 20 from Buena Vista Home Entertainment, writer-creator Marc Cherry still remembers how desperate he was when he wrote the first script.

“The reason I wrote it is, I couldn't get any work,” Cherry said.

Having previously written for the hit “The Golden Girls,” Cherry found himself unable to get sitcom work. So, he went with the one-hour format to tell his story of “how wives and mothers can go a little crazy.”

“I sat down to write something that would prove to everyone how smart I was,” he said. “I never went for a joke that wasn't earned. I went for really smart dialogue. I was so proud when I finished.”

What Cherry called “the best thing I'd ever written” was subsequently rejected by five different networks.

“People were telling me the writing was good, but they wouldn't take it,” he said. “Luckily, my agent was arrested for embezzlement.”

Say what? It turns out his first agent had him pitching the show as a dark comedy. When that one took a powder, a new agent told him to sell it as a soap opera with dark comedy in it. The next studio he pitched it to, Touchstone, bit. Touchstone exec Steve MacPherson (now president of ABC) loved the show and fought to get it on Sunday nights, and the rest is history.

With a show with five Emmy nominations, two Golden Globe wins and status as appointment TV, Cherry is still stunned.

“I was caught a little unprepared. I always thought it would build into something,” he said. “I have to give credit to the marketing people [and the fact] that I titled it something that said, ‘This show's going to be different.’

Early on, Cherry wasn't thinking about DVD, although as the show became a hit, he started thinking about his favorite episodes.

“Certain episodes I wanted to do commentary on,” he said. “I remember everything about what we went through. I knew I was going to have something to say.”

Those favorite episodes include cast commentary as well as his. Other extras in the $59.99 six-DVD set, which streets 12 days before the season-two TV premiere, include an alternate ending to the season finale, unseen scenes and featurettes. There's also a little something Cherry's colleagues urged him to include: At ABC's “upfront” presentations — where TV networks introduce lineups to advertisers — Cherry sang “Beautiful Girls” in top hat, tux and tails, and the cast's female stars joined him on stage.

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