Delay for Rosie trial

BY Advocate.com Editors

October 29 2003 1:00 AM ET

A judge has delayed the trial of former talk show host Rosie O'Donnell and her former magazine for at least a day while he clears his docket, a newspaper reported Tuesday. Judge Ira Gammerman was to preside over the case, set to begin Tuesday in New York State supreme court, pitting O'Donnell against magazine publisher Gruner + Jahr USA, a division of the German media conglomerate Bertelsmann. The delay hasn't stopped new barbs from being tossed, according to the New York Post. G+J said O'Donnell's side was engaging in "distortion of the facts" in a bid to win its case in the press, the newspaper reported.

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. It shut down last fall amid a dispute between G+J and O'Donnell, who said she was being denied editorial control over the magazine as promised in their contract. G+J said O'Donnell had acted unprofessionally and irresponsibly and sued her for more than $100 million for breach of contract. O'Donnell filed a counterclaim seeking more than $125 million.

The trial was expected to address such topics as magazine circulation audits, the Post said. G+J originally claimed to sell an average of 407,500 copies a month at newsstands in the first half of 2002 and 235,683 in the second half of the year. The Audit Bureau of Circulation put the average at 267,325 for the full year, causing the magazine to fall below its guaranteed circulation of 3.5 million, including subscriptions. If the magazine didn't hit certain benchmarks, O'Donnell would have been able to dissolve the partnership. "Given the distortions of the facts which Ms. O'Donnell and her team are advancing, G+J wishes to make clear that the evidence at trial will show that G+J fully and properly accounted for the financial performance of the joint venture," G+J said. O'Donnell spokeswoman Cindi Berger said, "Rosie looks forward to proving her case at trial."

The nonjury trial was tentatively set to start Wednesday, the newspaper reported. O'Donnell told Variety she was pleased that the trial will now begin following Tuesday night's first preview of her new Broadway show, Taboo: "It is perfection! The trial now starts Wednesday instead of Tuesday, so I can hear that audience response before I am accused of being inhuman. I need the fuel of this musical."

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