Rosie O’Donnell recalls brush with alleged cult

New York Post/November 11, 2019

By Anabel Sosa

Odyssey Study Group — the accused cult that The Post reported has been operating under the radar in New York for decades — had 15 minutes of fame in 2002 thanks to an unexpected collaboration with comedian Rosie O’Donnell.

The funnywoman told The Post that in 2001, she heard of a new documentary short about a New York theater troupe volunteering at an orphanage in the country of Georgia that was in need of a narrator.

O’Donnell — who is an adoptive mother and sits on the board of a child advocacy nonprofit — offered to do it free of charge.

It wasn’t until the next year, when the flick — “Artists and Orphans: A True Drama” — was nominated for an Oscar and things took a strange turn.

“The [group] asked me to meet them at the Russian Tea Room [to celebrate], which I thought was strange. It was very extravagant — we had caviar,” she said.

“I went expecting it to be a group of amazing, philanthropic, young, open-minded artists — like in the movie,” she added.

Then a reporter reached out and told her the filmmakers were part of an alleged cult, helmed by the flick’s star, Sharon Gans, whose group had been accused of racism and homophobia.

“I hung up the phone and called the woman who I had gone through for the initial talk [about the Oscar-nomination] … I said, ‘please tell me this is a joke,’” the openly gay comic recalled.

“After that, it was just dead silence. And I thought, ‘oh dear god. This is the worst thing that could have happened.’”

The connection and allegations generated headlines across the country, with The Post reporting: “Cultists hijack Rosie’s voice.”

O’Donnell publicly demanded her name and voice be removed from the doc.

David B. Goldstein, an attorney for the filmmakers, at the time told The Post that allegations of the movie being “the work of some kind of nefarious cult [are] completely baseless.”

“Furthermore, the inflammatory accusation that certain people affiliated with the film are involved in an organization that endangers the welfare of children or discriminates against … gays and lesbians or families is without foundation,” said the attorney.

O’Donnell says she never heard back from the filmmaker and 17 years later, remains uncertain whether her name and voice are still attached to the movie.

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

Educational DVDs and Videos