ROSIE COUNTERSUES GRUNER & JAHR

Alleges She Was Victim of 'Hostile Takeover'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Charging that Gruner & Jahr Publishing USA mounted a "hostile takeover of Rosie magazine against its founder and
Download a .pdf of Rosie O'Donnell's complaint.

Download a .pdf of Rosie O'Donnell's answer to Gruner & Jahr's suit.


namesake," Rosie O'Donnell today filed a countersuit against the publishing company.

The suit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, says it seeks "an amount not yet known but likely to be in excess of $125 million." Ms. O'Donnell demands a trial by jury, according to the filing.

No comment
A spokeswoman for the publisher said, "Gruner & Jahr has received Rosie O'Donnell's complaint and has no comment other than to state that we stand by our version of the facts which are set out in our complaint against Ms. O'Donnell. Gruner & Jahr is confident that we will prevail in the litigation."

Earlier this month G&J filed suit against Ms. O'Donnell and her company, Lucky Charms Entertainment, seeking $100 million after the comedian and talk-show host pulled out of the joint publishing venture with G&J.

Ms. O'Donnell's complaint was filed along with an answer to G&J's earlier legal action. In that document, Ms. O'Donnell denies over 70 allegations made against her by the publisher. Many of the denials mention Rosie editor in chief Susan Toepfer, whom Ms. O'Donnell said she hired only after coming "under intense pressure from G&J."

Clashed with editor
The document notes that

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Ms. O'Donnell and Ms. Toepfer clashed frequently over editorial issues.

The complaint details the original arrangement between Ms. O'Donnell and G&J. Ms. O'Donnell contributed the licenses to use her name and related trademarks and "agreed to pay 50% of the joint venture's losses, up to a cap of $6 million. G&J contributed the resources of the failing McCall's magazine, including its staff, subscriber list and advertiser contacts, and agreed to pay 50% of the losses until O'Donnell reached her cap of $6 million and 100% of losses thereafter." The two sides were considered equal partners, according to the complaint.

Alleged staff meeting
Another passage alleges that Dan Brewster, CEO of G&J, called a staff meeting of the magazine in Ms. O'Donnell's absence. "At the meeting, Brewster said among other things that the goal was to make the magazine less dark and embrace only the less serious aspects of O'Donnell -- her humor, generosity and emotion," according to the the document.

Ms. O'Donnell pulled out of the magazine in September after protracted arguments between her and the publisher over editorial control of the magazine. Ms. O'Donnell claimed that the publisher was making editorial decisions without her consent, and against the terms of their contract.

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Jon Fine contributed to this report.

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