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NBC PLANS NEW MARTHA STEWART DAYTIME TV SHOW

Reality Show Producer Mark Burnett to Oversee Comeback Project

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Martha Stewart may not be out of prison yet but she's back in business. Her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, now headed by former ABC Entertainment president Susan Lyne, announced Ms. Stewart is
Photo: AP
Martha Stewart will star in a new daytime NBC show after she is released from federal prison.
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returning to the airwaves with a new syndicated daytime show for NBC.

The new post-prison TV venture will be produced by Mark Burnett, the mastermind of smash hit reality shows such as Survivor and Donald Trump's The Apprentice.

Fall 2005
The show will debut next fall with commitments from NBC stations in 30% of the country and will look significantly different from Martha's previous series, Martha Stewart Living, which was also syndicated.

Speaking at a press conference to announce the new deal with NBC Universal Television Group, Mr. Burnett said, "Martha vowed to learn something new in prison every day and I know she will, I'm convinced of it and maybe it will end up on the show." That theme of learning something new every day is echoed in the January edition of Martha Stewart Living magazine, which has the cover line "Fresh Starts."

Before incarceration
Mr. Burnett stressed that the deal to do a TV show was finalized in May before Ms. Stewart's incarceration began.

After being convicted in March of lying to federal investigators about her ImClone stock sale in 2001, Ms. Stewart was sentenced to five months in prison followed by five months of home confinement. She began her prison sentence at the Federal Bureau of Corrections' Alderson Prison Camp in Alderson, W.Va., Oct. 8. She is due for release from prison in March 2005, after which time she starts her five months of home confinement.

Penal restrictions
Ms. Stewart is currently unable to conduct business from prison and is limited to 48 hours a week when she starts the second phase of her sentence at her home in Bedford, N.Y. The company said Ms. Stewart would be able to pre-tape segments of her new show after her release from prison next March.

Mr. Burnett's involvement means there will be ample product integration opportunities in the show for marketers, as in his other hit properties. "Martha stands for style and value; she has millions of loyal fans who are also transactional purchasers," Mr. Burnett said. When asked whether there would be fees charged for product integration opportunities as there are on Mr. Burnett's other productions, Heidi Diamond, president of MSLO's television unit, was not able to say.

'Product integration opportunities'
She said the company would begin talking to advertisers about a range of possibilities involving

Photo: AP
At yesterday's press conference were (left to right) Jeff Zucker, president of NBC Universal Television Group; Susan Lyne, president-CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia; and reality show producer Mark Burnett. Federal inmate 55170-054 is featured in the background graphic. Click to see larger image.

the show beginning Thursday. Jeff Zucker, president of NBC Universal Television Group, told AdAge.com, "We will look at product integration opportunities. It is clearly something that we incorporate into a lot of what we do now. So we'll be looking at it."

The as-yet unnamed series will reveal a much more accessible, post-prison Martha. The homemaking queen will interact with a live studio audience and involve them in home-making crafts while entertaining celebrity friends who will drop by and demonstrate their favorite recipes, for example. Martha Stewart Living met its end last June after the company took it off air. The show was very serious in its tone and featured the odd-family member or expert editor at Ms. Stewart's side. There was no audience participation.

Magazine devastated
Many of the company's advertisers have deserted the flagship Martha Stewart Living magazine, not wanting to their products associated with a convicted criminal. According to company results for the third quarter, revenues from TV were down 66.5% from $6.5 million to $2 million, while magazine revenues dropped 23.6% from $29 million to $22 million.

The 146-page January edition of the magazine contains 10 ads from well-known brands such as Neutrogena and the Ford Motor Co., along with a handful of smaller ads from lesser-known companies. The magazine also carries seven ads promoting other Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia properties. The magazine's ad pages fell 45.8%, from 1,123 to 609 for the first 11 months of this year compared with 2003.

However, Suzanne Sobel, executive vice president and publisher of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, said the company was having serious discussions with magazine advertisers who were "on hiatus" about coming back. Ms. Sobel said the company would announce four new sponsors who signed up to support another MSLO television production, Everyday Food, which begins airing on PBS stations in January. The company is also prepping for a new TV show on weddings to air on E! Entertainment's Style network in the first quarter of 2005. Style also has an agreement to continue airing Martha Stewart Living.

NBC's Mr. Zucker also hinted at talks about other opportunities for Ms. Stewart, but said there was nothing to add at this point about prime-time commitments.

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