TCA: “Desperate Housewives” cast and creator on the end of the beloved series

On Tuesday, the Wisteria Lane gang gathered before assembled TCA critics to, as castmember Felicity Hoffman put it, “[have] the funeral before you die.  Everyone gets to go, ‘You were great. We’re really going to miss you.  I’m sorry you’re dying.’ And you go, ‘Thanks.  I really had a great time!’

Though the 8-season show has had its share of ups and downs, the new season is being universally heralded as a high note and the mood in the room was more like a fond-farewell party for a group of beloved friends than a funeral, with the brunt of the questions being of the, “What’ll you miss most; what would you still like to do?” variety. The answers:

Eva Longoria: “Well, I know I’m going to miss the family that we’ve created, not only here on the cast, but our crew.  We’ve had the same crew for eight years, the camera guys, the boom guys, the craft services, the grips, and we’ve been through so many journeys together — marriage and babies and cancer and divorce. To miss those everyday faces you see, that’s probably what I’m going to miss.

Vanessa William:  “I’m going to miss the camaraderie.  I hope we all stay friends. It’s like its own little village.  It’s community.  I’ve mentioned this, but one of the most touching moments on the set was when our set dresser/prop person asked one of the extras to marry him. And he did it at a church and he asked all the cast to come in, so we were part of his family. He  flew her family in and got down on his knees and when he turned around, we were all in tears and we all had a collective familial experience because it was a community, and that’s one of my favorite, favorite moments from being a part of this family.”

As for what cast members still hope to find in their scripts, the answers were largely tongue-in-cheek, given that series creator was seated smack in the middle of the TV neighborhood he created:

A very fit-looking Marcia Cross: “I made a joke that I wanted to walk around in a bikini, but it was just a joke, so do not put that one in there.  No, thank you.”

Huffman:  “I kind of wanted to ride a horse and shoot a gun, but Entourage took that one over.  But there’s still time, right, Marc?”

“A horse and a gun,” said Cherry to Huffman. “OK, I’ll start working on it.” Then he looked at the audience and deadpanned:  “As you can see, sometimes this isn’t the best creative method.”

For Cherry, he says, the best part of doing the show was working with a team of writers who could put his friend- and family issues and kookiest life observations on paper and onscreen in a way that kept audiences engaged for so many years.

As for the fates of the couples on Wisteria Lane, there was some spirited debate about what each half thought was most surprising and most uniting about their pairings.

Said Longoria of the Carlos-Gabby matchup, “There’s nothing surprising about Carlos and Gabby and their relationship, and they’ve just kind of been through everything, up and down.  He’s been in jail and blind and now he’s in rehab … so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s going to be gay.

But Ricardo Antonio Chavira (looking dead sexy in hipster/biker attire and a thatch of curly hair that he said he grew in honor of his equally follicularly-blessed daughter) disagreed. “I think that the most surprising thing about these two characters is that in the beginning you see them as …. nothing but shallow people. And they are very selfish people and whatever [but] now they’ve become this couple that, I think, the audience has a tendency to rely on and look at as the ones that kind of have it together … and seem to be the strongest.”

According to Cherry, the most surprising thing for him about his couples was that feverish fans didn’t take down him and the show when the time finally came split up the show’s most sturdy, steady marrieds. “I’ll tell you one thing that I didn’t think we were ever going to get away with — because I had fans threatening my life for years,” he said, “was I didn’t think we were ever going to be able to split Tom [Doug Savant] and Lynette [Huffman] up. Because that relationship was so treasured and a lot of the fans really related to it.”

But, says Huffman and Savant, the scripts wound up so effective that the actors even started fighting off screen.

“So, yeah, it was interesting because the eighth year you get to go places you didn’t get to go before and the gloves are off for the writers. You don’t know what’s happening. But it’s also been upsetting, and we don’t get to work together as much. And working with Doug is one of my favorite things.  But I think it’s been true. Sixty percent of marriages, first marriages end in divorce, and 80 percent of second marriages end in divorce.”

“Oh! It gets higher?!”  squeaked the recently divorced Longoria to a roar of laughter.

Ad for Teri Hatcher and James Denton’s explosive Susan and Mike, Hatcher says when you start out naked in the buses, you’ve set the bar high for a storyline. “I mean, in terms of scenes, it’s really hard to beat the ‘naked in the bushes’ scene, which was so long ago now, but probably one of the most fun, vulnerable, exciting, well written moments, I think, in Susan’s personal journey — and certainly Susan and Mike together.”

“I’ve been in jail, I’ve been out of jail, I was run over by a car,” says Denton. “I was in a coma.  I was married and divorced and married.”

“I was hooked on drugs,” adds Hatcher,  “I was in rehab.  I beat it. Marc’s pretty much run Delfino through the wringer.  So it’s been really rewarding from where we started. The first season was so much fun because we had that great love story with Mike and Susan, but then you get them together, and what do you do?  So it’s been kind of fun for us to watch what the writers come up with us to do as a happy married couple now.  We’ve gotten to play it all.”

Except for the very end, which Cherry says he’s had in mind almost since the series began. “The last act — which I’ve had in my head for seven and a half years — is absolutely what we’re going to do,: he says.

“What was cool was the day that I shared it with the writers, because I had been kind of keeping it to myself.  And, of course, as always happens with my wonderful writers, I said, ‘This is what I want to do and then they started adding things.’ So it definitely got better. But the general premise has always been the same. There’s still some stuff in the body of the thing that we’re still working out and we’re tying up our loose ends and stuff.  But the last act, absolutely, I’ve had it down for quite awhile now.”

Asked if it is bittersweet knowing these final episodes are the end of the line for the characters he created so long, Cherry says, “No, it’s completely sweet, because I’m smart enough to know, when I started this — this is my 23rd year as a professional writer — there’s no such thing as a job that goes on forever.  All good things come to an end.

And, he says, he leaves the series knowing the series saved hi. “I was so f*cked,” Cherry explains.
“I was in, like, a hundred thousand dollars in debt to my mother.  I went through years without an interview for a job. No one thought I was anything. I had friends that didn’t even call for a while.  And then, like, I write this script because it was my attempt to, like, show people that I was a better writer than maybe they thought, and all hell broke loose.  … It’s like life. To everything there is a season. Our seasons are coming to an end. For all of us, we’re just so grateful for the ride we’ve had because not many people in this business get to experience what we have all collectively experienced. So that’s how I feel — just grateful and looking forward to the next chapter.”

But before the Desperate Housewives book is closed for the final time, Cherry has one more thing to do: put the Cherry on the top of the show. Reminded of another Press Tour panel years ago when he said he’d do a cameo on the very last episode of the series, Cherry said he will indeed keep the promise.

“Yeah, I’m going to do a Hitchcock, And the hair and makeup people will go through more hell on that day than they’ve ever gone through with this cast, so just so you know.

Desperate Housewives airs Sundays at 9pm.

Photo: © 2012 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Credit: Rick Rowell

About Lori Acken

Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.
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