IT's a trial that could almost have come from a plot in the show itself.
Nicollette Sheridan -- who played feisty Edie Britt in the hit show Desperate Housewives -- is suing the creators over her controversial exit.
A Los Angeles court heard the actress should receive $6m (¤4.5m) for being killed off after the show's creator slapped her.
The duelling characterisations of a dispute between Sheridan (48) and Housewives creator and executive producer Marc Cherry were presented to jurors in opening remarks of a case that will offer glimpses into behind-the-scenes manoeuvres of a hit TV show.
Sheridan will be the trial's first witness today.
Her wrongful termination and battery trial centres on whether her complaints about Cherry's slap -- described by her lawyer as a hard whack, and by a defence lawyer as a tap meant to give artistic direction -- led to her character Edie Britt's violent demise and the loss of her $175,000 dollar (¤130,000)-an-episode job.
Sheridan's lawyer Mark Baute claims her character was killed off only after ABC, which airs the series, cleared Cherry of wrongdoing.
He told jurors that determination was made after a sham investigation and the plotline was hastily planned. Cherry and ABC have denied all wrongdoing.
Adam Levin, who represents Cherry and ABC, said he would present evidence that the decision to kill off Sheridan's character came months before the on-set dispute and was made after consulting the highest ranks of the network's management.
He noted that Sheridan did not suffer any physical injuries and denied Mr Baute's accusations that Cherry or other show employees tried to cover up the row between the producer and Sheridan.
Sheridan dabbed her eyes and hugged Mr Baute after his opening statements, which described her as waging a battle against Cherry and ABC virtually alone. "This is a man hitting a woman in the head -- hard -- without her consent," Mr Baute said.
The series, which stars, Eva Longoria, Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman and Marcia Cross, could provide some star power to the trial because all are listed as potential witnesses.
Sheridan's character died in the show's fifth season after being nearly strangled, involved in a car crash and, finally, electrocuted.
Cherry appeared pained as Mr Baute described Britt's demise as a "triple homicide" and her reappearance a few episodes later in "a ridiculous ghost scene".