O’Donnell, Publisher Square Off
Rosie O’Donnell and the publisher of her now-defunct magazine accused each other in court Thursday of destroying the publication by refusing to compromise on its content.
The magazine’s acrimonious 2002 demise was described in Supreme Court in Manhattan, where opening arguments were heard in a lawsuit that will test the reputations of both sides. Each said the other had broken contractual agreements.
Martin Hyman, lawyer for Gruner & Jahr USA, portrayed O’Donnell as a difficult, inflexible figure who simply abandoned the magazine. In his opening statement, he said O’Donnell’s position was: “I am the boss of this magazine.... If I don’t have total control, I shut the magazine down.”
But O’Donnell’s lawyer, Lorna Schofield, said the magazine’s editors had usurped her role in determining the magazine’s content. By ignoring her wishes, she said, Gruner & Jahr broke an agreement that the magazine reflect O’Donnell’s sensibilities.
The two sides did agree on one point -- the choice of an August 2002 cover photo that included O’Donnell crystallized the dispute. O’Donnell said the photo was selected without her involvement; Gruner & Jahr said she threw a “tantrum” because the photo was unflattering.
Gruner & Jahr accuses O’Donnell of breach of contract and seeks $100 million. O’Donnell has countersued and seeks $125 million, maintaining that Gruner & Jahr breached its agreement by cutting her out of key decisions.