O’Donnell fights back

Rosie countersues mag publisher G+J

Rosie O’Donnell has lobbed the legal grenade right back into Gruner+Jahr’s trench.

Former gabber and mag editor is filing a countersuit against her joint-venture magazine partner, claiming the publisher breached its contract and forced her to desert her eponymous mag.

The amount for which the Bertelsmann-owned group is being sued has not been disclosed.

“We don’t talk about pending legal issues, but we are confident that we will prevail in court,” said a G+J spokeswoman.

The suit comes as response to G+J’s $100 million suit, filed Tuesday in New York Supreme Court, in which the publisher alleged O’Donnell’s “unilateral and wholly unjustified abandonment of the magazine.”

“It’s no different from football,” said entertainment attorney Vince Chieffo, a shareholder in lawfirm Greenberg Traurig. “The best defense is offense.”

In a 50/50 deal inked in 2000, the two sides agreed to rename McCall’s magazine “Rosie” and make it her star vehicle.

The first issue debuted in April 2001. Despite the title’s strong sales and ad revenue, despite a recession that rocked the mag industry, relations went south when O’Donnell dumped her gabber and came out of the closet.

Both parties tried to outmuscle each other for editorial control, and in September O’Donnell announced her departure.

“”For the magazine, it’s a business,” Chieffo said. “But for Rosie, it’s her brand. It’s her.”

On Thursday, O’Donnell’s attorney Mary Jo White said in a statement, “When all the facts come out in the course of litigation, we’re confident that a court will find that Rosie’s decision to terminate the agreement with G+J was justified by G+J’s misconduct, and that the court will award her significant monetary relief.”

Chieffo, however, isn’t sure the case will ever reach litigation.

“I expect this to be resolved,” he said. “But I’d be interested to see how G+J plans to prove $100 million in damages.”

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