Desperate Housewives

Eva Longoria knows what it's like to be let down by the finale of one of her favorite TV

series. Nearly two years after Lost signed off, she's still grumbling that she wasn't given "a better explanation of what the f--- [the island] was. I wasn't keen on The Sopranos finale, either. All that investment and this is it?"

But Longoria feels confident this won't be fans' reaction when ABC's Desperate Housewives concludes with a two-hour finale on May 13: "It's that satisfying ending you want in a show that's been running eight years."

It could've ended in disaster. When the show's writers were tossing around finale ideas, one suggested demolishing Wisteria Lane. "There would have been a fire or flood," explains creator Marc Cherry. "But we've done so many things to the Lane already, I thought it would be anticlimactic."

So instead of jaw-dropping hysterics, Cherry crafted a heartfelt farewell revolving around
Renee (Vanessa Williams) marrying Ben (Charles Mesure), Bree (Marcia Cross) considering marriage, Julie (Andrea Bowen) giving birth, crotchety Mrs. McCluskey (Kathryn Joosten) dealing with the final stages of lung cancer and a glimpse back to the arrival of narrator Mary Alice (Brenda Strong) on Wisteria Lane. "It's a story that will be told visually by the directors in a very cinematic way," says Doug Savant, who plays Lynette's husband, Tom.

The top-secret scripts were delivered to the cast over the April 13 weekend. Cross, who plays not-so-happy homemaker Bree Van de Kamp, was busy putting her 5-year-old twins, Eden and Savannah, down to sleep when her script arrived via email. "Evenings are a blur," says Cross. "But once the girls were asleep I read it on my computer because there was all this anticipation."

Williams was at her daughter's swim meet in Pasadena when the script popped up on her BlackBerry. "I put on my glasses and read the whole thing because I couldn't wait," she says.

Felicity Huffman is particularly thrilled with how Cherry dealt with Tom and Lynette's highly anticipated reunion in the penultimate episode. "It's really romantic and fulfilling," she says. "And in the finale, we dance together."

When the cast (all but Teri Hatcher, who had been committed by ABC to emcee a company event in Las Vegas) gathered for their final group table read, "it was a crying fest," says Longoria. "Brenda couldn't get through her voice-overs. I couldn't get through my dialogue." Afterward, Huffman, Cross and Longoria hung out for 40 minutes and "sat there crying, hugging and reminiscing," says Huffman. Adds Cross: "It was a sweet, private moment for us."

If you've picked up that "us" seems to consistently exclude Hatcher a lot lately, there's a reason — just not one anyone wishes to discuss on the record. Suffice it to say something went down two seasons ago that created a deep rift with Hatcher, who physically separates herself from the others during breaks in filming. It couldn't have helped matters that Nicollette Sheridan's wrongful-termination trial revealed that producers had allegedly considered writing Hatcher out of the series in Season 5, a claim Cherry downplays.

"I will never disclose the true and complicated journey of us all, but I wish everyone on this show well," says Hatcher via email. "Marc created out of thin air a majestic street called Wisteria Lane with its picket fences, its flowers always in bloom... and four really complementary characters: a selfish girl, a harried woman, a repressed control freak and a soul-searching, well-meaning fumbler. Those four characters and the actresses who played them seemed to meld together in a way that harkens the phrase 'once in a lifetime.'"

Housewives' husbands — Savant, James Denton (Mike) and Ricardo Chavira (Carlos) — managed to sidestep the drama, growing only closer through the years, always cognizant and appreciative of their supporting roles. "Jamie oftentimes would do interviews and be asked a series of questions all about, 'What is it like working with Teri?'" chuckles Savant, who endured the same line of questioning about Huffman. "Jamie, Ricardo and I are the guys who were there the longest, lived through it together and shared a special bond."

Adds Huffman: "So much life has gone on around us. People have gotten married and had babies. People have gotten divorces and gotten sick. People's parents have died. We have lived a lot together."  

For more with the cast of Desperate Housewives, pick up this week's issue of TV Guide Magazine, on newsstands Thursday, May 3!

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