August 25, 2005

What will Martha say? Stewart mum at NY appearance

By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Homemaking guru and ex-convict Martha
Stewart answered all manner of questions about her new
"Apprentice" show in a publicity appearance on Thursday except
the one that's been asked most -- what slogan will she use to
dismiss contestants from the show?

"What makes you think there is a slogan?" she joked as she
talked about her reality TV show modeled after Donald Trump's
"The Apprentice" and his famed line of "You're fired."

Viewers will have to wait until September 21, when the show
debuts on NBC television, with 10 women and six men competing
for a job at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.

Stewart, who hosted reporters and photographers at her
Manhattan studio to promote "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart"
and her live daytime how-to show "Martha," was candid and
good-natured about the five months she spent in federal prison
for lying about a stock trade.

She cheerfully hiked up the hem of her brown pants to show
off the electronic monitoring bracelet she wears as part of her
home-confinement sentence that allows her to leave 48 hours
each week to work.

The opening montage of "Martha" features a photograph of
Stewart surrounded by uniformed guards at the U.S. District
Courthouse where she stood trial last year.

"People are used to seeing me like that," she said, adding,
"To avoid it is avoidance, and we're not going to avoid

One show of "Martha" will feature "Poncho Day," when the
audience will consist of nearly 200 women who crocheted the
same poncho Stewart wore when she was released from prison. It
was made by a fellow inmate, and Susan Lyne, chief executive of
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, said one million people had
downloaded the pattern off the Internet.


The home-confinement portion of Stewart's sentence is
slated to end on August 31, to be followed by 18 months
probation. Asked about her plans when she is released, she
said: "I'm told it's midnight, and I'm probably not going
anywhere at midnight."

Keeping much of "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart" a secret,
the show's creator and executive producer, Mark Burnett, also
hinted that it may not even have a slogan, saying that as he
worked on the show: "It became silly to me."

He did promise "a wonderful commonality" at the end of each
show that was Stewart's idea.

"It's a totally fresh look, and something you will
definitely remember," he said.

But producers of the show "were kind of pissed off at it"
when they first saw the show's ending, Stewart added.

Although her version is modeled after Trump's popular show,
she promised: "It might have the same name, but it's a very
different show."

"I've been so much looking forward to starting anew this
September,... revitalizing everything we have worked so hard
for over the last few years," she said.

Asked if any of the women she met in prison would have been
a good "Apprentice" candidate, Stewart simply replied: "Yes."

Last month, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia reported a
quarterly loss related to costs associated with the start-up of
"Martha." With its founder out of prison, however, the company
reported advertising picked up at its key magazines, Martha
Stewart Living and Everyday Food.