|Hiding her parolee ankle bracelet but showing off her golden shoes, Martha Stewart welcomed 700 advertising executives and media members to a news briefing about her new daytime TV show. Click to see larger image.
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Aiming to play up her new softer, fun image, Ms. Stewart lifted up her leg to reveal the gold clogs, but not her court-mandated ankle bracelet, saying, "I'm wearing my lucky shoes. Something's under here, but I'm not going to show you." Referring to troubles with her probation officer over her attendance at the Time 100 event, she said, "This is an approved event."
Ms. Stewart and her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, hosted the upfront presentation to sell advertisers on the new series, which is being produced with Mark Burnett Productions, the force behind reality show juggernauts Survivor and The Apprentice. (The "upfront" refers to the intense negotiating period each spring between advertisers and the broadcast networks over the bulk of their annual marketing budgets committed in advance of the fall broadcast season.)
NBC Universal is syndicating the daytime show nationwide. The General Electric Co. network has sold the show to over 90% of its stations. In addition, Ms. Stewart takes over the boardroom reins from Donald Trump next season for The Apprentice: Martha Stewart next season, also on NBC.
Bickering like a married couple
During the presentation at the New York Public Library, Ms. Stewart flirted with business partner Mark Burnett onstage, saying she thought he sounded "cute" on the phone when they first spoke; Mr. Burnett later said the two were already bickering like a married couple.
The syndicated show will be called, simply, Martha and will launch Sept. 12.
Ms. Stewart's company has already hired a number of new staff, who seem to have joined largely from NBC's ranks. While a full pilot will not be available until the end of August, clips of Martha look to makeover reality shows such as Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy to TLC's Trading Spaces for inspiration. The hourlong show, which includes eight four-minute ad breaks, will feature a segment called "The Worst Cook in America," as Ms. Stewart gives 12 women each month the basics of cookery.
Giant new TV studio set
Photos of the giant set, which includes a full kitchen and garden area, were also unveiled, though Ms. Stewart quipped she wasn't quite sure if Mr. Burnett was allowing her the budget to pull it off. Ms. Stewart said there would be no sofas, as she didn't have them in her home because she liked people to be active. Celebrities will stop by the show who will not only discuss their latest Hollywood projects but also share their favorite hobbies or recipes -- Robin Williams taking a bike ride with Ms. Stewart around Central Park was one example given.
MSLO outlined opportunities for advertisers to target certain groups, from brides-to-be to new homeowners to women making dinner for their families. MSLO CEO Susan Lyne said the series had a number of agreements in place with advertisers, but that they were not firm enough to reveal until they were signed.
By far the most entertaining part of the presentation involved Ms. Stewart screening a video, in Japanese, on how to fold a T-shirt properly -- someone had sent her the clip via the Internet, she explained. Ms. Stewart picked an advertiser and a reporter to come onstage and replicate the folding process. Ms. Stewart said she tested the exercise on Mr. Burnett to see if she should work with him; he succeeded. Onstage, he tried it again. When he paused for a second, Ms. Stewart jumped in to help. Mr. Burnett pushed her away and completed the task himself, flawlessly.