Rosie O'Donnell | The Rising Falls | White-Collar Crime

Rosie Will Bring Boy George to Broadway 

It's only been hinted at in recent news accounts of Rosie O'Donnell's magazine problems, but when I spoke to her last night she confirmed that she'll produce Boy George's hit London musical, Taboo, on Broadway next spring.

Rosie made a very gracious and generous appearance last night at the party to launch Caroline Rhea's new talk show from Warner/Telepictures. The show succeeds Rosie's hit show, and Rosie hand-picked Caroline after Rhea filled in for her one week.

When Rosie appeared at the party she received a lot of compliments for her new short haircut. What, or who, inspired it?

"Helen Terry," she said, and no one but this reporter got the reference. Terry was the cheerful backup singer for Boy George and Culture Club in the '80s. 

O'Donnell caught Taboo in the West End last spring, then came home and wrote George a note congratulating him. She wound up going back to London, where the producers set up a meeting in her hotel room. But no one showed, and when Rosie called to see where George was, the British producer said, "He's in the lobby. He's too scared to come up."

"I laughed," said Rosie, "considering I used to have his poster on my wall when I was a teenager."

O'Donnell will bring the much-praised show -- featuring George in a secondary role -- to New York as its majority producer.

"I'll have 75 percent," she said, "and the British producer will have 25 percent."

That's how much she believes in it. The British producer, by the way, is a group called AKA Productions, which is half-owned by former HBO boss, the very American Michael Fuchs.

As odd as he was in his heyday, Boy George always had a gorgeous blue-eyed soul man's voice and a capacity to write hit songs like "Karma Chameleon" and "Time (Clock of My Heart)." He had post-Culture Club hits with covers of "The Crying Game" and "Everything I Own." Taboo includes a few CC songs and 20 new ones written by George.

What Rosie couldn't talk about, thanks to legal issues, is her ongoing fight with publisher Gruner + Jahr over her magazine, Rosie. The publisher has tried to wrest control from Rosie while keeping her name attached to it.

The highly principled comedienne/actress has fought back, hiring former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White to negotiate for her. Meanwhile the publisher has hired an editor, Susan Toepfer, to run the show.

What I don't understand is how G+J, who have never been rocket scientists in the New York publishing community, thought they'd get away with this. It's not like they're planning on calling the magazine "Susie."

McCall's, the boring, aged recipe book which Rosie succeeded, was out of date and nearly pre-historic when it collapsed with nary a protest.

It's funny that G+J wanted something "edgy" with Rosie, but that once they achieved success, they wanted McCall's back. What they don't seem to understand is that O'Donnell's talk show was a success based on her gut instinct. Its fans were passionate about it.

The magazine has had that flavor too. Let's hope G+J realizes that before it's too late.

Rosie, by the way, did a nice thing to help out Caroline, who's now poised for big success with her new talk show, which debuts in September.

Even though you may think O'Donnell is combative with all authority figures, it's not so. She praised Warner/TeleRep TV to the sky last night.

"It was a great experience working with them," she said.

The Rising Falls by More Than Half 

The Rising will likely be No. 1 again this week, but sales of Bruce Springsteen's new album are off more than 50 percent from its debut week. 

Total for this week will be about 200,000 -- or maybe a shade under. First-week sales were 526,000.

Surprised? All album sales were down last week, including Eminem, Nelly and the other bright lights of the current charts. But Bruce has been doing a ton of publicity and started his tour last week.

Lower sales still didn't keep people away from Monday night's Madison Square Garden show. Spotted in the crowd were many of the Sopranos, as well as Steven Spielberg, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick and director Peter Bogdanovich.

Ironically, when Bogdanovich wanted Bruce's songs years ago for the soundtrack of Mask, starring Cher and Eric Stolz, the Boss turned him down. Bogdanovich wound up using Bob Seger material, which was just as effective.

Strangest thing on the charts this coming week: the drop from No. 9 to about No. 26 in one week for new artist Amerie. That debut was so strong that it's a little odd she just fell with a splat so quickly. Maybe all the Amerie fans went to summer camp during her second week out.

White-Collar Crime Has Fringe Benefits  

I wrote in this space a few weeks ago about Diana Brooks, the former head of Sotheby's, spending her "house arrest" -- after being found guilty of price fixing -- at her Starbucks on the Upper East Side. I saw her there checking out espresso makers one afternoon.

Then Cindy Adams noticed Brooks perambulating around Park Avenue. (That's different than percolating.) So much for New York magazine's exhaustive study of white-collar prisons.

Now I've gotten word that ImClone owner Sam Waksal was spotted at the posh Caribou Club in Aspen on Friday night. Was it him? The people I've spoken to swear to it, and since Waksal is free on bail, why shouldn't he enjoy himself?

Last night I was told that Steve Madden, the shoe king who I thought went to jail for tax evasion, is not only home in Greenwich Village, but being picked up every morning for a round of golf. His neighbors see him coming and going.

Madden indeed was sentenced to 41 months for securities fraud and money laundering in April. He pleaded guilty in May to helping manipulate more than 20 stock offerings, including his own company's, resulting in $100 million in losses for investors. Madden also paid a $1.8 million fine to settle insider-trading charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Me, I'm wondering if he's using that new Callaway C4 and if he's having any trouble with a 10 degree club.

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