Dan Snierson
November 08, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

It’s enough to drive Maryann to drink. Well, to drink more. Staffers at CBS’ hit sitcom Cybill have seen more turnovers this season than a Pillsbury factory: Five producers and three writers have quit or been fired in the last two months, and the cause, by most accounts, is friction with star and executive producer Cybill Shepherd. ”This season [Shepherd] was more insistent on things being done her way,” says former executive producer Howard Gould, who resigned in September. ”It went from being a difficult show to a really, unusually, painfully difficult show.”

Now in its third year, Cybill has been dogged by rumors of trouble ever since series creator Chuck Lorre left last season, also because of creative differences with Shepherd. In early September, according to Gould, he and another exec producer, Jay Daniel, were banned from the set because Shepherd objected to the pair sitting by a monitor and critiquing her performance. Daniel never came back, while Gould returned for a month, after which he resigned. ”We had reached a point of such significant creative differences,” says Gould, now an exec producer on NBC’s The Jeff Foxworthy Show, ”that I just didn’t feel good about what we were putting on the air.” Adds former coexecutive producer Russ Woody, who resigned with Gould, ”Basically, she took control of everything, making it virtually impossible to write the show.”

Shepherd declined to comment on any of the departures (a spokesman for Carsey-Werner, Cybill‘s production company, confirmed the executive shuffle). Publicly, however, Shepherd has sought to defuse her diva image, a reputation she’s carried since her early TV days. ”I learned a lot on Moonlighting,” Shepherd said slyly earlier this month at the Museum of Television and Radio. ”I’m so much nicer now.”

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