Rosie says she's the same as ever

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com September 28 2002 12:00 AM ET

Rosie O'Donnell, who in six months has come out as gay, quit her TV talk show, and left her magazine after a fight with publishers, said in an interview released Thursday that she hasn't changed a bit. "I have not had a personality change," O'Donnell told People magazine. "I don't think anything I've done recently is inconsistent with what I've done my whole life."

O'Donnell said there is no conflict between the headline-grabbing stories of her recent edgy stand-up jokes or disputes with publishers and her "queen of nice" talk-show image. Her six-year talk-show run, with its easy humor and love of trivia "was afternoon, families, Merv Griffin. That doesn't mean I had a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde side that I was hiding," she told the magazine.

O'Donnell, 40, said that since her show ended in May, her much-publicized battle with depression has improved and that she has spent much of her time with her three adopted children and her partner, Kelli Carpenter, who is expecting a daughter in December. The two women went public as a couple in March. "I'm happy to say that my medicine has been greatly reduced since leaving the show," she said. "I will probably need medication for a while, if not forever.... The thing that's different is that the gray veil that surrounded me was lifted, and life was once again Technicolor."

O'Donnell denied tabloid newspaper rumors that she and Carpenter are splitting up, saying that would never happen: "We are not now, nor have we ever considered, nor will we break up. I know public figures aren't supposed to say that because, well, what will happen if we do? But I am telling you, inside my heart I know this to be true." O'Donnell spoke to People just days after quitting her magazine, Rosie, after 18 months following a bitter fight with publishers Gruner + Jahr USA over editorial control and accusations that she had screamed at her staff. Gruner + Jahr marketing chief Cindy Spengler accused O'Donnell last week of walking away from her brand, her fans, her TV show, and her "public personality, her civility."

O'Donnell admitted to People that she had shouted at top executives at the magazine but said, "I am never abusive to my staff." She said she yelled at the CEO during a heated dispute in July over a Rosie cover, when tension over the magazine's content and style came to a head. "I told him this was not the deal we made. I said, 'This is America. You don't own my name."' Gruner = Jahr is a unit of German media giant Bertelsmann AG.