Rosie Riled by 'Orphans' Controversy

New York Daily News/March 20, 2002
By Rush & Molloy

Rosie O'Donnell was "thunderstuck" yesterday after we informed her office that the producers of the Oscar-nominated documentary she narrated are linked with a self-realization group criticized as homophobic.

"Rosie is absolutely shocked and appalled," says her rep, Cindi Berger. "They told Rosie they were a charitable organization for children. It's disgusting."

Sources say the talk-show queen, who recently came out as gay, is so mad that she wants "Artists and Orphans: A True Drama" disqualified from Oscar contention, says a source. Rosie may also demand that her voice be removed from the film.

Last year, O'Donnell volunteered to narrate the movie, about artists and performers from a New York-based personal development group known as the Fourth Way School who went to the former Soviet republic of Georgia to rescue orphaned children. However, as O'Donnell is now aware, there has been controversy around the Fourth Way School and its leader, Sharon Gans, who appears in the film.

New Jersey-based cult expert Rick Ross contends that former members of the Fourth Way School have claimed it refused gays membership unless they promised to straighten out.

Yesterday, after we contacted O'Donnell for comment, the comic called "Artists and Orphans" director Lianne Klapper-McNally to get her response.

According to Berger, O'Donnell was not satisfied with the filmmaker's response.

But David Goldstein, a lawyer representing the film, tells us that the accusation that "Artists and Orphans" is "the work of some kind of nefarious cult is completely baseless. Further, the inflammatory accusation that certain people affiliated with the film are involved in an organization that endangers the welfare of children or discriminates against African-Americans, gays and lesbians, or families is without foundation."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.