ABC, creator Cherry agree to finish series at end of season

ABC is taking its last trip down Wisteria Lane.

Sources indicate network president Paul Lee and creator Marc Cherry have agreed to end the show in May, at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season and the show’s seventh. Official announcement will come at the Alphabet’s Television Critics Assn. confab Sunday.

Cherry has long wanted a firm end date for the highly profitable series ever since he saw Alphabet showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse get one on “Lost,” but former ABC topper Steve McPherson was vehemently opposed. Now, however, with Lee in charge, Cherry will get his wish and craft storylines to a fitting conclusion.

There has been no specific talk of a spinoff series featuring any of the characters, but that always remains a possibility for fall 2012.

“Desperate Housewives,” since its launch in 2004, has been a huge cash cow for ABC and is also a major hit overseas. The actresses from the show who have remained throughout the run — Felicity Huffman, Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria — have also seen their careers blossom.

“Housewives” was a phenomenon when it first began in September 2004 and, along with freshman series “Lost” and midseason hospital drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” helped pull ABC out of a terrible slump at that time.

In its first season, “Housewives” drew a 10.4 rating/23 share in the 18-49 demo and 23.6 million viewers overall. It was the third highest-rated show that season, behind only the Tuesday and Wednesday installments of “American Idol.”

Fast forward to 2010-11 and the most recent season of “Housewives” averaged a 3.9/9 in the demo and 11.8 million viewers. While those numbers are a far cry from the early years, with the fragmentation of viewership and a much larger increase in DVR usage, it remained a top 20 show in the demo.

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