Rosie files $125 million lawsuit against Gruner + Jahr
Out former talk show host Rosie O'Donnell sued the publisher of Rosie magazine for more than $125 million Monday, alleging that Gruner + Jahr Printing and Publishing Co. breached their contract and caused the demise of the namesake magazine and their joint venture.
The lawsuit had been expected. G+J sued O'Donnell earlier this month for more than $100 million, alleging that O'Donnell's behavior led to the magazine's collapse, and O'Donnell had said she would countersue. Her lawsuit also names Daniel B. Brewster Jr., G+J's chief executive, as a defendant. O'Donnell also filed a separate response to G+J's lawsuit, denying any wrongdoing.
Sue Geramian, a G+J spokeswoman, said the company had no comment on the countersuit except that "we stand by our version of the facts, which are set out in our complaint against Ms. O'Donnell. G+J is confident that we will prevail in the litigation." Rosie debuted in April 2001 as part of a partnership to revive struggling McCall's magazine. The joint venture gave O'Donnell and G+J each a 50% stake in the business.
O'Donnell quit Rosie magazine in September, saying she could no longer be part of a business that betrayed her principles. The final issue of the magazine is expected to go on sale next month. The filing in Manhattan state supreme court alleges that G+J deliberately disparaged O'Donnell to the press and magazine staff and leaked confidential information about their joint venture to prevent her from exercising editorial control guaranteed in their contract. O'Donnell's suit also alleges poor management by the publisher and violation of the terms set forth in their joint venture.
In the first six months of this year, Rosie's total average paid circulation was 3.5 million, slightly below the 3.6 million total average paid circulation recorded in the previous six months, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. It had the 13th highest magazine circulation nationwide for the first half of 2002, according to Advertising Age magazine. But newsstand sales were slipping, and O'Donnell and G+J had reportedly argued repeatedly about what the magazine's cover needed to look like to improve newsstand sales.
G+J, the international newspaper and magazine arm of German media giant Bertelsmann, also publishes Parents, Fitness, Fast Company, and Family Circle magazines.