Titanic Turndown for Rosie O'Donnel

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Titanic Turndown for Rosie

You'd think that the overexposed, overextended monster that is Titanic could find a few measly bucks to throw back at the general public. After all, the film has taken in more than a $1.5 billion worldwide. That's what Rosie O'Donnell thought when she approached 20th Century Fox to see if they would donate some money to help a leukemia-stricken Maryland mother of five get a bone-marrow transplant, says USA Today. Rosie's show had heard that a thirteen-year-old friend of the woman's son was willing to auction off his Titanic postcard signed by a survivor in order to raise funds for the procedure. Thinking synergy, O'Donnell's agent called Fox to see if they'd join the effort, and reportedly received an out-and-out "no" from Peter Chernin, head of News Corp., the studio's parent company.

The paper says O'Donnell and her staff were offended that Chernin would refuse their request, and that was even before they read what the studio says in its defense. "Each year, Fox donates millions of dollars to charitable causes," Jeffrey Godsick, a Fox senior VP for publicity/promotion, tells USA Today. "However, we would never allow these philanthropic activities to be used to purposes of exploitation or to drive ratings, which in this case is exactly what we were asked to do."

O'Donnell, whose charitable good deeds, both on and off her show, are well known, instead turned to the much smaller Titanic Broadway production for help. The people behind the musical, a mere porpoise swimming alongside Jim Cameron's big boat, immediately agreed to participate. On Rosie's show on Thursday, the cast of the musical surprised postcard-holder Joey Russell with a $60,000 donation to aid Mary Shelley, whose hometown of Havre de Grace has already raised $20,000 toward her transplant. The postcard will be displayed in the lobby of the Lunt-Fontanne theater, where the musical is playing.


Twentieth Century Fox rejected a request from Rosie O'Donnell for a $60,000 donation to help pay for a woman's bone-marrow transplant, USA Today columnist Jeannie Williams reported today (Tuesday). O'Donnell's ICM agent reportedly called the studio after O'Donnell received word about a boy's effort to sell a Titanic postcard signed by a survivor to help pay for a friend's mother's operation. Twentieth chairman Peter Chernin turned down the request because, the studio said in a statement to Williams, "we would never allow [our] philanthropic activities to be used for purposes of exploitation or to drive ratings, which in this case is exactly what we were asked to do." Instead the producers of the Broadway musical version of Titanic reportedly bought the postcard and plan to display it in the lobby of the theater.

-- Dan Draghici (ddraghic@sprint.ca), April 21, 1998


Hmmm...And how much did Ms. O'Donnel and company (agent) offer to contribute to this cause? Sorry, I think Fox was right. Looks like a case of "A.M. Hardcopy" to me!

-- Peter Nivling (pcnivling@capecod.net), April 21, 1998.

Somehow I just don't think Rosie was using this to drive her ratings. After all there was no hype about what she was about to do until AFTER the show aired. And to drive rateings you have to let people know that they need to watch the show when it first comes on! I think that it was a great idea to get the musical to buy the postcard. I also think it makes Fox look like an uncaring corporation. After all I've never heard of them donating any money to anything other than the scholorship fund for First Officer Murdoch. And they only did that because the people were so upset by the way he was portrayed in the film. That makes it look like they were trying to buy them off to keep bad publicity away from their movie. Don't get me wrong, I love Titanic (seen it five time so far) but in this case I think Fox was just being a jerk of a corporation. I doubt if Rosie would have cared at all if they had paid the boy without any publicity on her show. Just as long as the mother gets that bone marrow transplant. I mean Honestly, were talking about someone's life here! After all the deaths Fox just made millions off of you'd think they could at least help one person out! It's not as if 60,000 dollars is a huge chunk out of their pocket anyway. Not compared to what they just made with Titanic!

-- Miranda Swearingen (Kylen1@hotmail.com), April 22, 1998.

Sure it makes FOX look like a real Scrooge for turning Rosie down, but I beleive that FOX was right in turning her down. I believe that they realize that everyone has had enough with Titanic Mania and probally did feel like they where being used by her since she has said how she thought another movie was the "real" Best Movie of the Year. And she hasn't been very diplomatic in the way she feels about the movie. I for one have been offended by some of the things she has said over the months about Titanic. So I'm sure FOX has picked up on that animosity towards the movie and didn't feel like warming up to her.

-- Anne (anne@ward.com), April 22, 1998.

Anne, what all has Rosie said about Titanic? I haven't watched the show in a long time. What movie did she think should have won? As for this incident with the studio refusing to make a donation, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I despise the fact that studios are greedy in general and regularly "cook the books" (use clever accounting schemes in their financial reports) to show they earn less than they do, supposedly to minimize what they pay actors. BTW, have they paid Cameron, Leo, and Kate those sums they promised after the movie succeeded? On the other hand, I have 2 thoughts. First, if Rosie has given negative publicity about the movie, Fox shouldn't feel obligated to help her in any way. Second, what precedent would Fox's acquiescence set? Should Fox or any studio feel obligated to donate under similar circumstances? I agree that it would be interesting to know whether Rosie donated anything herself. Perhaps she should have just made a general request, on one of her shows, for anyone to send a donation. Given its high ratings, I suspect some philanthropist or two would have coughed up the dough.

-- BobG (rgregorio@ibm.net), April 22, 1998.

Well it's kinda hard to explain if you haven't watched the show in a while, but I'll try. When Kate was on the show I didn't feel that Rosie was being very nice to her like she is with her other guest (she constantly gave her a hard time about smoking). She said that GWH was the "real" best movie of the year. She had a contest the last week before the Oscars with her guest for charity. Anne Rice was the only one that picked all Titanic and won, but Rosie gave Anne a hard time for her choices saying that she only picked them because Anne likes Dicaprio. And we all know how when Rosie wants to have a guest on the show how she goes all out in begging them to come on the show. Well her two day campaign on getting Dicaprio on was I feel quiet telling in how she feels. Lets say that she didn't make it sound like she really cared wether or not he came on and she was only asking because they where getting a lot of phone calls requesting him. There where a lot of other little snide remarks through out her shows, those where the only ones I could remember. But I must say even though she has the right to an opinion, because she has a show that a lot of kids watch she should have been more careful about what she was saying. And even though we all keep an open mind I think it hurts when people are saying such things about something you like, and when your a kid you just know that someone is saying something mean about what you like. And she's not the only one that was saying snide remarks about Titanic before the Oscars, and even though I was fans of some of them it still made me look at them in a different light. I'm sure it sounds shallow to some people. But its almost like a personal attack on you as a person.

-- Anne (Anne@ward.com), April 23, 1998.

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