Trial: Rosie Painted as Quixotic Boss

updated 11/03/2003 at 12:00 AM EST

originally published 10/31/2003 2:43PM

On Day Two of the Rosie O'Donnell-Gruner + Jahr trial, a former editor of the now-defunct Rosie magazine testified Friday that she avoided frequent disagreements with O'Donnell because she was afraid she'd lose her job, reports the Associated Press.

"I picked my battles," said Cathy Cavender, who served as Rosie's editor-in-chief from December 2000 until being fired (by G + J) in June 2002.

Cavender said that over time she deduced that O'Donnell was "pretty sensitive," and issues Cavender believed to be simple would end up rankling the star.

"I'm asking you to be as direct as you can be with me," O'Donnell once e-mailed Cavender, adding at another time, "I am not a tyrant." Still, Cavender testified, "I felt that if I disagreed with Rosie too much I would lose my job."

O'Donnell, said Cavender, also wanted British pop star Boy George on a cover because she was preparing to produce his play "Taboo" for Broadway.

"I would rather go down breaking records and amazing people than stay at the shore watching the brave ones swim," O'Donnell told Cavender in an e-mail.

G+J executives, however, thought the magazine was already too edgy and were nervous about declining newsstand sales, Cavender said.

In response to Cavender's testimony, Boy George wrote a colorful letter to the New York Post, which published excerpts in its Monday editions. He said, in part: "What a delicious idea. I wish I had such power ... and cannot understand how I have become so central to (the trial)."

The trial, which began last Thursday, continues Monday and is expected to last two weeks.

O'Donnell, 41, is seeking $125 million after claiming G + J breached her contract to publish and damaged her name, while G + J is seeking $100 million amid claims that O'Donnell reneged on her agreement to serve as publisher and altered her public image from Queen of Nice to uber-bitch.

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