O'Donnell says former Rosie editor lied under oath

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com November 05 2003 1:00 AM ET

Rosie O'Donnell said the editor in chief of her now-defunct magazine lied Monday when she testified that the entertainer objected to a cover photo of her with her arms around other women because she is a lesbian. The editor, Susan Toepfer, testified that O'Donnell objected to a picture that was shot for Rosie magazine's September 2002 cover. The shot featured two female stars of The Sopranos with O'Donnell between them and an arm around each. Toepfer, testifying at a trial in which O'Donnell and her magazine publisher are suing each other, said O'Donnell called her after seeing the photo and screamed obscenities at her.

"She said, 'As a lesbian, I'm uncomfortable being on a magazine cover holding another woman or touching another woman,'" Toepfer testified. "I said, 'You know, Rosie, that would never have occurred to me in a thousand years.'" As O'Donnell left court Monday evening, she denied that she had ever made such a statement: "I have never in my entire life said, 'As a lesbian, pass me the salt. As a lesbian, blah, blah, blah.'" Both sides have agreed that the photograph, which never ran, started the fight that killed Rosie magazine. Instead, a photo featuring The Sopranos' Lorraine Bracco, Aida Tuturro, and Edie Falco ran on the September 2002 cover--without O'Donnell.

In September 2002, O'Donnell declared that the publisher, Gruner+Jahr, had violated its contract with her by cutting her out of key editorial decisions, and she quit the magazine. Gruner+Jahr sued O'Donnell for $100 million over the dispute, alleging breach of contract. O'Donnell countersued on similar grounds for $125 million.