ROSIE ON THE STAND: Defendant Rosie O’Donnell testified Thursday in New York State Supreme Court in her legal dispute with Gruner + Jahr, the magazine company which is suing her for walking away from their joint venture, Rosie magazine.
This story first appeared in the November 7, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
It was the moment she had been waiting for for more than a year. In fact, she’d refused to sign a settlement on Tuesday because of a non-disparagement clause. And, privately, she told friends that she imagined her turn on the witness stand as a Broadway musical in which Nathan Lane and Patti LuPone are waiting on the steps of the courthouse, arm-in-arm as she drives up getting ready to make her case.
“[G+J ceo] Dan Brewster and I had a conversation,” she said in the real-life-is-stranger-than-fiction version. “He said he was the child of a senator and that impressed me. He said he believed in my efforts for gun control and democratic issues. We discussed his father and he said that my perspective offered a much-needed voice in women’s magazines. I told him that I was interested, as long as I had creative control. He asked if I’d be a controlling bitch like Oprah [Winfrey] and Martha Stewart. I said, ‘They’re pretty successful bitches, don’t you think?’ He laughed. That’s when he thought I still had a sense of humor. He said he would control the business end and I would have creative control. The veto clause would work so that if I presented something crazy, he could say no. He said that he was concerned with the celebrity aspect of the magazine and Martha Stewart and wanted a one-week window [during which O’Donnell wouldn’t make changes to the magazine] in order to prevent the magazine from becoming a ‘celebrity dictatorship.’ He told me this story about how Oprah had demanded that the candle on the cover of an issue be changed from white to pink and that it cost [Hearst] a lot of money. I told him I was leaving the show and coming out.”
And so that’s her version.
Whether it will help her in the public eye remains to be seen, since O’Donnell admitted the day before that she’d told a cancer survivor “Do you know what happens to people who lie? They get cancer.”
The end of that “Queen of Nice” rep? Clearly.
But the plaintiffs suffered a major setback on Thursday when, during cross-examination, their final witness, Kenneth Collins, a partner at DeSilva & Phillips, was silenced by Judge Ira Gammerman. Collins had been paid more than $50,000 to testify for G+J and provide estimates on what the magazine was worth. He placed the value around $60 million, but based it on internal numbers given to him by G+J’s chief financial officer, Larry Diamond, who hadn’t been called to testify. So the judge determined that his testimony was based on hearsay and told O’Donnell’s lawyers not to bother with the cross.
One person close to O’Donnell commented on the irony of the situation: O’Donnell had wanted a trial by jury so she could clear her name. G+J was here for the money. Their prediction: G+J will get no money, and she will not get her reputation back.
— Jacob Bernstein
OOPS, THEY DID IT AGAIN: Given its fun with Photoshop earlier this year, one can argue whether every issue of Harper’s Bazaar should include a disclaimer about the veracity of its contents, but the December issue should have definitely come with full disclosure.
It appears the photo of Linda Evangelista holding a knife to the throat of John Galliano is not what it seems. No, there are no digital tricks involved, but that’s a Galliano look-alike posing with Evangelista, according to sources familiar with the shoot, a fact that Bazaar fails to note.
The photo opens a feature on haute couturiers, who all posed with Evangelista, who wears a confection by each. When photographer Jean-Paul Goude presented his idea for Galliano to Galliano — that he should wear the skirt while Evangelista grips what looks like a very sharp knife —the designer balked, the sources said, and when Goude wouldn’t back down, he walked.
The hot question these days is whether designers are replaceable. In this case, the answer is apparently “yes.”
And Dior isn’t rushing to dispute it. Asked about the identity of the man in the photo, a Dior spokesman declined to say, but said the house was very happy with the fashion story.
Galliano told Bazaar the same thing, apparently. A spokesman for the magazine e-mailed: “As its title says, this story is a haute couture fantasy. John Galliano told Bazaar that he loves the image and has never seen a more beautiful picture of himself.” — Greg Lindsay and Miles Socha
HIGH-GLOSS: Quintessentially, the high-end concierge service co-founded by Ben Elliot, is opening its doors to nonmembers — sort of. The launch of Quintessentially Magazine in February will see 30,500 copies hitting the newsstand and 4,500 being distributed to its members, which include Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow. Edited by Catherine Peel, managing editor of American Express Centurion Magazine, the quarterly title will be a mix of travel, arts, leisure, health, beauty and social trends, with a $6.80 cover price. Quintessentially has appointed Luxury Publishing, a new firm that counts Ben Goldsmith among its investors, to run the magazine. “We thought the time was right to launch an upmarket quarterly magazine, to use our unrivaled access to movers and shakers to provide a first-class editorial product,” said publisher James Reatchlous, who hopes to draw in the British Vogue and Tatler readership.
— Samantha Conti