…It was after O’Donnell finished her last show in early February that she received what an O’Donnell ally calls a “vicious and heinous” e-mail from Shepard-Brookman. The producer denied leaking to the press, and then, according to people who have seen the e-mail, went on to tell O’Donnell that if she had leaked anything to the press it would have been a litany of transgressions by O’Donnell. Shepard-Brookman was suspended, and two weeks later, she was fired. The e-mail, her supporters suggest, was used as a foil by ABC to finally get rid of the most senior member of the old guard at the show. ABC denies this. “You could have read the e-mail as a threat,” says one ABC executive, who says it was “totally unprofessional.” “Well,” says a high-level show insider, “it may have been unprofessional, but it wasn’t untrue.”
Shepard-Brookman’s attorney would not comment.