Eighteen months ago, out writer-producer Marc Cherry was desperate for work. Now he's riding high on the success of his red-hot new ABC black comedy Desperate Housewives, which is threatening to overtake CSI: Crime Scene Investigation as the most-watched program of the new season. Cherry's rags-to-riches story as the creator and executive producer of Housewives is a classic Hollywood tale of a down-on-his-luck writer whose script is rejected all over town before he finally finds takers, as Cherry did, at Disney's Touchstone Television studio and ABC network in October 2003.
With Housewives averaging 27 million viewers in its most recent outing last Sunday, Cherry had no shortage of offers from studios wanting to strike a long-term production-development deal. But for Cherry, it was an easy choice to stay put at Touchstone, where he just signed a three-year, seven-figure pact. One of the biggest leaps of faith that Touchstone and ABC took on Housewives, which blends murder mystery elements with a darkly comic look at life in suburbia, was that it was an ensemble drama penned by a writer who had previously worked only on half-hour sitcoms, Cherry told The Hollywood Reporter. Before he hit the jackpot with Housewives, Cherry created and executive-produced the short-lived, gay-themed 2001 CBS comedy Some of My Best Friends and the 1994-1995 CBS sitcom The Five Mrs. Buchanans. Earlier in his career, he worked as a writer-producer on NBC's The Golden Girls.
When Cherry first started working on the script for Housewives, his primary goal was to generate a strong drama spec script to submit to producers in seeking staff jobs on other drama series. "I hadn't worked in a few years, and everybody was saying that the sitcom was dead, so there were fewer comedy writing jobs. I just wanted to find a job," Cherry said. "To have it end up this way is so astounding as to be some kind of ridiculous fairy tale." Cherry added that he should "send a check to Alan Ball and Darren Star" for taking his cues on the tonality of Housewives from the way that Ball and Star deftly blended pathos and bathos on their respective HBO series Six Feet Under and Sex and the City. Cherry also said that he has no plans to step away from his show-running duties on Housewives anytime soon to develop new projects. "When you catch a wave like this, you really want to ride it a while," he said.