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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Judge Rules in Rosie O'Donnell Case

Aired November 12, 2003 - 12:39   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to interrupt the secretary of agriculture in order to go to New York. There you see Rosie O'Donnell emerging from this courtroom only within the past few minutes. The judge has ruled effectively against her, as well as against the publisher, Gruner + Jahr, saying that neither side warrants getting monetary damages as a result of the lawsuit.
Let's listen in to see if Rosie is going to be speaking with reporters.

ROSIE O'DONNELL, FMR. TALK SHOW HOST: Hi. I would like to say I am very happy that it is over. I would like to thank my lawyers from (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and Clinton (ph). If you are ever sued by a corporate giant for $125 million, I highly recommend them. They are incredibly good lawyers, and they are incredibly ethical people.

I would like to thank Judge Sherman, and Justice Gammerman for their participation in this trial and for the eventual ruling. The story of this case is not who won or lost, but simply how many times peace was offered and war was chosen by the other side. We can have peace in this world, we can have peace with each other. You have to want it and you have to work for it.

I have no vengeance towards the company. I will never speak about that company again, or any of its employees. Not because I signed a confidentiality agreement, but because I am simply happy about fact that it is finally over.

I would like to thank my wife, Kelly Carpenter; my mother and father-in-law, Melanie and Joel Safer (ph); my brother Eddie O'Donnell, and all of the friends and family who have stood up for me and the strangers who have shown up at the courtroom with a full understanding of what in fact was happening here. I am happy it is over. I will not answer anymore questions.

I respectfully ask everyone with a camera to take a picture from where you are. I would like to walk to my car where my family is waiting without being chased like convicted murderers or accused rapists, or others of the lot. In 20 years of my celebrity, I have never failed to stop for what some call paparazzi. I have always stopped for 20 years, true or false?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: True, true.

O'DONNELL: True. I will continue to stop.

Tomorrow, on November 13th, "Taboo" opens on Broadway. I am the producer of this musical. It emits light and yellow and god and love, and I am proud that during the time when they were trying to rip me down, I gave birth to a beautiful child in the form of musical theater.

"Taboo" is the show. It opens tomorrow. Peace is possible.

Thank you.

BLITZER: And surrounded by her attorneys, Rosie O'Donnell leaving the microphones after judge's decision against, effectively, both her and the publisher, Gruner + Jahr. Gruner + Jahr had sued Rosie O'Donnell for some $100 million, saying she was in violation of the contract. She then counter-sued with $125 million, saying that they broke the contract with her.

The judge, Ira Gammerman, only within the past hour or so saying neither side is eligible for monetary damages. Rosie O'Donnell, as we just heard here live on CNN, saying, as far as she is concerned, it is all over with. She is getting ready to move on with the next chapter of her life. We will stand by to hear from the Gruner + Jahr publishers, as well to get their reaction to what has happened.

CNN's Mary Snow is in New York. She's outside the courtroom. She has been covering this trial for us, doing an excellent job in the process.

Quite a surprise, Mary. A lot of us thought the judge was going to take a few weeks to come up with a final decision. He took a few minutes to come up with a final decision.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And Wolf, you know, going into the courthouse this morning, Rosie O'Donnell said that on Monday, when things wrapped up, she asked the judge if she had to appear today. And she said that he told her that he would be making a statement. And she said, "If you are making a statement, then I will show up."

So we had a little bit of a hint that there could be some kind of ruling. And when both sides rested their case, the judge said, in his words, this was an "ill-conceived lawsuit." And he said that neither party was really able to provide evidence that there were any damages outside of legal fees.

He said, on Gruner + Jahr's behalf, that the -- had testified that this magazine, "Rosie" magazine, the center of this lawsuit, had been losing money. And he said that he saw the lawsuit as part of the back and forth between both sides that was revealed in the testimony, and saying that it seemed to him that both sides really wanted bragging rights.

So he had been pushing this case all along. At some points, even taking over questioning. And he said that, you know, some of the amounts given out, in terms of the value of the magazine, had really been estimates, and that -- he said that this testimony really didn't back up that estimate. It was proven that this magazine, before the joint venture, had fallen apart and had really been losing money -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary, I take it the only outstanding question now is if either side has to pay the legal fees of the other side. Is that still to be determined?

SNOW: That is still to be determined. We're trying to figure out exactly how that would play out. And you know, Wolf, going into court, Rosie O'Donnell had made a reference to her legal fees, saying that were around $8 million, she had said going into court today. So we still have to hear the final word on who will pay what bills.

BLITZER: The whole notion of this spectacle of Rosie O'Donnell versus the publisher, it's caused a huge stir not only in New York City, but around the country, given the fame, the well-known nature of Rosie O'Donnell, her reputation out there. When she says she is not going talk about it anymore, does anyone really sense that that's going to be the case, given her propensity for talking?

SNOW: Right. You know, Wolf, the other day, on Monday, she had -- someone had asked her -- a reporter had asked, was it all worth it? And she took issue with the reporter, saying, "What does it mean?" And she said, "When this is all over, I will decide who I will talk to."

So I have a feeling, from what she said on Monday, that she plans to perhaps tell more about this. And she had mentioned earlier that her Broadway musical will open tomorrow, ""Taboo"," in which she invested I think $10 million of her own money.

So the verdict is still not in on whether or not we heard the last of this. But certainly eight days of testimony, today was the eighth day. And pretty colorful argument, so to speak, within that eight days of testimony. But the judge really saying, in terms of breach of contract, that these damages couldn't be established.

BLITZER: "Rosie" magazine, it started off with such promise, along the lines of Martha Stewart's magazine, Oprah Winfrey's magazine. Of course it ended without much promise at all.

CNN's Mary Snow covering this trial for us. Thanks, Mary, very much.

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