Rosie O'Donnell has had it with Rosie.
The once-heralded Queen of Nice announced Wednesday she was leaving her namesake women's magazine--a move that means curtains for the publication, at least the one called Rosie.
The final issue bearing O'Donnell's name will hit newsstands in December. Gruner + Jahr USA Publishing said it was considering options to keep the mag alive in another form (and, of course, with another name).
"This was a very hard decision," O'Donnell said Wednesday at a press conference in New York City. "[B]ut my integrity and my name are at stake and that price is too high."
According to Mediaweek, O'Donnell softened the blow to the mag's 200 staffers with personal letters--some including checks for as much as $10,000.
O'Donnell and Gruner + Jahr have been wrestling for control over the soul, and editorial direction, of Rosie since the summer.
"During the past two months, they have moved to take away the editorial control I had under our agreement," the comic said.
In the tradition of Martha Stewart's Martha Stewart Living and Oprah Winfrey's O: The Oprah Magazine, Rosie launched Rosie in July 2001. The mag was a reworked version of the century-old McCall's title.
O'Donnell, who walked away from her Emmy-winning daytime talk show in May, got cheesed off at her publishing partners this past July when they fired Rosie's creative director (a pal of the real-live Rosie), and hired a new editor-in-chief whom she thought was making the mag too frou-frou. Buzz had it that Rosie was so mad she was ready to sue...Rosie.
At the same time, O'Donnell balked at posing for any more Rosie covers. Like Oprah's O, Rosie's Rosie had featured the mug of its famous editorial director month after month on newsstands.
But in July, O'Donnell told Mediaweek: "I hate photo shoots. I would rather have root canal than do a photo shoot."
True to her word, the September 2002 Rosie featured the first non-Rosie cover. (In O'Donnell's stead were the women of The Sopranos.)
While O'Donnell's decision to delete herself from Rosie would seem to defuse her battle with her publishers, the truth is, the war has only begun.
Gruner + Jahr today had fightin' words to say about O'Donnell's move.
"It is truly shocking and disappointing that Rosie O'Donnell would walk away from her obligations to her staff," Cindy Spengler, chief marketing officer of Gruner + Jahr, said in a statement.
Seemingly setting itself up for the inevitable lawsuit, Spengler said O'Donnell's decision destroyed "the value of the business we created and [violated] the conditions of our binding contract."
And then Spengler got personal. She said the publisher was "caught in the maelstrom of Rosie O'Donnell apparently abandoning her past."
"She has walked away from her television show, her brand, her public personality, her civility--and now her fans," Spengler said.
To be sure, O'Donnell has undergone an image overhaul of late. Returning to the standup stage in July, the former happy-TV hostess declared, "The bitch ain't so nice anymore," and then proceeded to rip into Liza Minnelli, Michael Jackson, Joan Rivers, even former President Clinton.
Also this year, O'Donnell "outed" herself, and confirmed she and longtime girlfriend Kelli Carpenter were expecting a baby. (O'Donnell already is the mother to three adopted children.)
On Wednesday, O'Donnell assured fans that while Rosie the magazine was headed for the pulp pile, "Rosie the person" was going "full speed ahead."