Rosie O'Donnell says she pulled no punches with publishers
Rosie O'Donnell maintains she was forthright with the publisher of her now-defunct magazine, telling its chief executive at their second meeting that she was gay and that she was quitting her television program. Despite the revelations, O'Donnell testified Thursday that CEO Daniel Brewster of Gruner+Jahr USA agreed that she could have full creative control of Rosie magazine, which was published from April 2001 through December 2002. She quit the magazine in mid September 2002, following a dispute over that control. G+J sued O'Donnell for $100 million, alleging breach of contract for walking away. O'Donnell filed a $125 million countersuit, declaring that by cutting her out of key editorial decisions, G+J had violated its contract with her.
O'Donnell said she was open to launching a magazine with her name on it because she had been impressed by the success of Oprah Winfrey's magazine, O, and was interested in a similar translation of her successful television show into print. However, she said she came away unconvinced after her first meeting with executives of G+J. At a second meeting, she said, Brewster succeeded in changing her mind. "Mr. Brewster was quite passionate about the democratic ideals I had espoused on my show," O'Donnell said. "He said I would add a much-needed voice to the world of women's magazines. He convinced me." O'Donnell said one of her conditions was that she have creative control of the magazine. She said Brewster agreed and told her he would control its business side.
O'Donnell also said she told Brewster that she was a lesbian and had plans to give up her daily talk show. "He assured me that neither of those two things were a concern," she said. Brewster testified that he was never told before the magazine started about O'Donnell's sexual orientation or TV plans. "I have absolutely no recollection of that," Brewster told Matthew Fishbein, one of his lawyers. In testimony Wednesday and earlier Thursday, Brewster said O'Donnell's inflexibility and controlling nature caused much of the tension at the magazine during its final months. G+J lawyers say O'Donnell ultimately destroyed the magazine because of a fight over a cover photo. Earlier Thursday, Daniel Rubin, a G+J executive vice president, said O'Donnell cost his company tens of millions by walking away from the magazine.