Cherry signs four-year deal with studio

In what figures to be one of the biggest TV deals of the year, “Desperate Housewives” creator Marc Cherry has inked a four-year, eight-figure overall pact with ABC Television Studio.

Deal, which keeps Cherry under wraps until May 2011, ensures creative continuity on “DH” through the skein’s seventh season. Studio has also quietly negotiated deals with all key members of the cast that will keep them on the hit skein for at least as long as Cherry is attached.

Neither the studio nor Cherry’s reps would comment on financial particulars. Still, it’s believed the pact exceeds the rich $15 million, 3½-year deal “Nip/Tuck” creator Ryan Murphy inked with three News Corp. units last week (Daily Variety, Feb. 16).

Cherry said he has no plans to develop projects beyond “DH,” though if he does, it’ll be for ABC Television Studio (ATS). Instead, the scribe wants to focus on his current show.

“The studio and the network and I all feel it’s best for me to stay glued to the set,” he told Daily Variety. “I’ve got my ship, and I’m gonna run it.”

And, if Cherry gets his way, the S.S. Wisteria Lane will complete its voyage in 2011 — the same time his new deal wraps.

“I think that, at the end of my deal, and after seven seasons, it will be a good time to call it quits,” he said. “I don’t want anyone else to run the show, and I don’t want us to fade away.”

Cherry joked that ATS execs “smile and nod” when he mentions his plan, which echoes recent end-date scenarios set out by the brain trust behind another ATS skein, “Lost.”

“But I’m serious in my intent to end it after seven years,” Cherry said. “I don’t want to overstay my welcome.”

ATS prexy Mark Pedowitz said Cherry’s plans for “Desperate Housewives” don’t come as a surprise to him.

“He has always said he sees this as a seven-year show,” Pedowitz said. “But nobody’s made any determinations that it will end after seven years. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Pedowitz said reupping Cherry was an easy deal to make.

“Desperate Housewives” is an “enormous asset for this company,” he said. “And it’s his creation and vision. It would be silly to do something without Marc Cherry involved.”

Pedowitz also praised Cherry for steering “Desperate Housewives” back on track after some creative hurdles during the show’s second season. “He’s shown himself to be a very capable showrunner,” Pedowitz said.

While Cherry’s reps received inquiries about the scribe’s availability, there was never any serious danger that he would jump ship.

“The only thing hard about the choice is that this is the most exhaustive thing I’ve ever done,” Cherry said. “The only thing harder would be letting someone else run the show. And they certainly made it worth my while, so it was easy to sign on the dotted line.”

With a potential end date in mind, Cherry is also free to begin planning the next stage of his career.

“After I’ve completed ‘Desperate Housewives,’ I’m packing my bags, moving to New York, and I’m going to start writing books for Broadway musicals,” the singing waiter-turned-scribe said.

Don’t expect “Desperate Housewives: The Musical,” however.

“I can’t emphasize this enough: God, no,” he said when asked about such an idea. “It will not take place in suburbia.”

Cherry’s deal was brokered by his reps at Paradigm and attorneys Jon Moonves and Abel Lezcano.

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