Cultists hijack Rosie's voice

The New York Post/March 20, 2002
By Richard Johnson with Paula Froelich and Chris Wilson

If only Rosie O'Donnell had come out of the closet sooner, she wouldn't have been chosen by members of a group of racist homophobes to narrate an Oscar-nominated documentary.

O'Donnell did the voice-over for "Artists and Orphans: A True Drama," about artists and actors who help orphans in the former Soviet state of Georgia. But last week, sleuth Jeannette Walls discovered the film was produced and directed by members of the Fourth Way, a fringe group that advocates white supremacy and condemns homosexuality.

One former member of the group told PAGE SIX: "If I were Rosie, I would be livid. I was amazed she narrated their documentary."

The ex-member said that gays were not permitted to join. A few were allowed in only after they promised to convert to heterosexuality.

"On the whole, the group feels gays are not capable of emotional or psychological growth and believes gays are squandering their sexual energy that should be used for personal growth and evolution," the former member said. "They also say that if gays weren't lazy and passive, they would work on themselves and be normal [heterosexual].

"In this [group], the worst thing you could say about someone would be to call them a 'faggot.' They also do not accept blacks."

Cult expert Rick Ross says that, in the 1970s, Fourth Way's founder Sharon Gans was run out of San Francisco after her theater group was exposed as a cult-like group which beat and abused its members. Now, in New York, Gans lives a secretive existence, but the Fourth Way - also known as "The School," "The Work" or "Odyssey Study Group" - is alive and well.

"Sharon Gans owns a $4 million house in the Village, an estate in Croton, and many other properties. Her members pay her $1,000 a month to be in the group," Ross said.

O'Donnell was brought into the project by former CBS producer Lianne Klapper McNally, a Fourth Way member. O'Donnell had no idea of the group's ideology. When she found out, she immediately called Klapper to see if the allegations against it were true.

According to a pal of O'Donnell, "When Rosie confronted Lianne on the phone, there was a deafening silence and Lianne finally said, 'Uhhh . . . I'll get back to you,' before slamming down the phone." McNally did not call O'Donnell back.

O'Donnell's rep said her client was stunned, and added: "The group called Rosie and asked for her help in regards to the orphans, and she lent her voice. She can't believe this is true . . . If this is a cult, it's a frightening thing. Rosie is adamantly against all cults and cult-like groups."

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