Suit alleges full disclosure
You can shut Rosie down, but you can’t clam her Rosie O’Donnell.
Not to be outdone by her former joint-venture partner Gruner + Jahr USA’s $100 million lawsuit against her last month, nor by the closure of her namesake magazine and its 120 employees last week, the former talkshow host filed a $125 million countersuit with the Supreme Court of the State of New York on Monday.
“Rosie will fight this vigorously,” her spokeswoman Cindi Berger said.
O’Donnell walked out on the mag last month after a summerlong editorial dispute with G+J, which promptly sued her.
O’Donnell’s own suit, submitted by the office of former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, alleges that before the two sides embarked on their partnership in 2000, O’Donnell “told G+J that she is a lesbian and that she intended to publicly disclose her sexual orientation.”
According to the 39-page complaint, she also disclosed she intended to quit her syndicated gabber in the spring of 2002.
These contentions fly in the face of Gruner+Jahr’s insistence that the Bertelsmann-owned mag group was taken aback by those professional and personal revelations, thus perhaps undermining the power of her brand and ultimately the magazine.
Gruner + Jahr could not be reached for comment.
The two sides launched Rosie — a transmogrified version of McCall’s — in 2001. After O’Donnell came out of the closet on TV, in a magazine and in her autobiography “Find Me” last April and disassociated herself from her gabber one month later, relations deteriorated and an editorial tug of war broke out.
The countersuit also states that O’Donnell retained editorial control over the magazine but would have to relinquish control during the one-week period in which the magazine was closing.
It also claimed that according to the joint-venture agreement, only G+J USA CEO Daniel B. Brewster Jr. had veto power over O’Donnell’s decisions.
Yet the replacement of former editor in chief Cathy Cavender with Susan Toepfer in June is portrayed as a coup d’etat.
According to the countersuit, Toepfer, unlike her predecessor, only reported to Brewster, a situation that seems to have led to O’Donnell’s Sept. 18 departure.
“During that period, G+J seized control of the magazine’s editorial process and the editorial staff to enhance Toepfer’s power and marginalize O’Donnell,” the filing states.
Complaint comes after weeks of countersuit threats and an extensive media campaign that featured appearances on “The O’Reilly Factor,” “The Today Show,” “Dateline,” “The View,” “Access Hollywood” and other gabbers to bolster public opinion in her favor.
O’Donnell has vowed to give any money won in the countersuit to charity.