EXCLUSIVE: After months of negotiations, I hear the four stars of ABC’s Desperate Housewives– Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria — are finalizing deals to return to the dramedy series next fall. The deals are for one year, with an option for a second. With the quartet on board, ABC will renew the show for an eighth season, though it is unclear whether that will happen right away or closer to the May upfronts.
As for Hatcher, Huffman, Cross and Longoria, I hear their new base salary would be around $325,000 per episode, up from about $275,000 under their most recent deals. (Reports have erroneously pegged their previous salaries at $400,000.) With additional compensation, including back-end and bonuses, the actresses’ paychecks are expected to go up as high as $375,000 per episode. If their options for Season 9 are exercised, their base salary is slated to go up to around $350,000, plus other incentives. If Desperate Housewives goes to nine seasons, which has been creator Marc Cherry’s vision for the show, the four leading ladies’ entire compensation package for the next two seasons is valued at close to $18 million for each.
Like in previous salary renegotiations, Hatcher did her deal separately from Huffman, Cross and Longoria, whose reps once again coordinated their talks with Desperate Housewives producer ABC Studios. Additionally, slowing the final stretch of the marathon negotiations was the fact that Cross hired a new attorney about a week ago. But I hear things are now down to the fine print, with the deals expected to close as early as today. And, despite the fact that Hatcher negotiated separately, all four actresses are getting the same deals, just as they did in the last salary renegotiation. (This time the circumstances were a little different as the foursome did not have deals in place beyond Season 7.)
With Hatcher, Huffman, Longoria and Cross on board, as well as the newest housewife, Vanessa Williams, who will also return next season, the only question remaining is the extent of creator/executive producer Cherry’s involvement. He had said he was planning to leave Desperate Housewives after the current seventh season. He continues to be the series’ showrunner, but with his new ABC project Hallelujah picked up to pilot, Desperate Housewives executive producer Bob Daily has taken over day-to-day duties on the show while Cherry is working on his pilot and is expected to continue to do so if Hallelujah goes to series.
Despite slipping in the ratings from its heyday, Desperate Housewives, along with Grey’s Anatomy, continue to be ABC’s strongest hourlong scripted series. Desperate Housewives‘ off-network syndication sale netted a so-so $500,000 per episode from Lifetime, but the show continues to be a hit internationally. With an eighth-season pickup, Desperate Housewives is expected to join eight other ABC series already renewed for next season: Modern Family, The Middle, Cougar Town, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Castle, Dancing With the Stars and The Bachelor.