Her former publisher says she's a screaming meanie. An ex-''Rosie'' magazine editor says she made her cry. Even her own lawyer admits Rosie O'Donnell has a temper. But when the ''Taboo'' producer entered Judge Ira Gammerman's New York State Supreme Court room Oct. 30 to face off with publisher Gruner + Jahr, she was the very model of a modern soccer mom.
''People have many different sides to their personalities,'' said O'Donnell of her Queen of Nice revival, as the courtroom broke for lunch on day two. Still, O'Donnell seemed determined to play up the cutie-patootieness. Gone were her post-''Rosie'' sweats and the Flock of Seagulls 'do. Out in force was the charm, as she chatted with reporters about the nasty e-mails proffered by the opposition to show her naughty side (''Why didn't they show the apology e-mails?!''). She playfully motioned to courtroom artists to make her look thinner. She even accepted a half-eaten chocolate bar from a certain entertainment magazine staffer, confessing she ''threw up this morning from nerves.''
It makes sense for O'Donnell to make nice to take the heat off her allegedly tyrannical behavior. Gruner + Jahr's $100 million breach-of-contract case hinges on whether her tirades brought down ''Rosie.'' Not to mention her simultaneous $125 million countersuit, in which O'Donnell asserts that the publishers breached their contract by undermining her editorial control and misrepresenting circulation numbers. With that much cash at stake, maybe it's time to start tossing the Koosh balls.