Armed with with girl-power theme songs from Dusty Baker and Annie Lennox, domestic diva Martha Stewart says she is ready to return to daytime TV and take on prime time too.
Her new syndicated how-to show, Martha, set to Baker's "Am I the Same Girl?," debuts Sept. 12 on stations covering 98% of the country.
Nine days later, her Mark Burnett-produced spin-off, The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, hits NBC to the tune of Lennox's "Sweat Dreams."
With both shows, Burnett is trying to present a softer side of Stewart, whose harder side got plenty of press during her much-publicized legal troubles. “The overriding question from people," he says, "is what is Martha Stewart really like?”
To that end, Stewart and company held a pedigreed dog and thoroughbred pony show for the press Thursday at her new production digs in New York's Chelsea neighborhood.
Both programs should give viewers an intimate look at Stewart and her lifestyle empire, they said.
Martha will be a how-to show where Stewart will interact with her studio audience and celebrities. The premiere episode will be “Poncho Day,” inspired by a now-famous poncho crocheted for Stewart by a fellow inmate while she was in prison.
More than a million people have downloaded the pattern, according to Susan Lyne, president and CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO).
Of those, 164 who got hooked enough to complete them were invited to be Stewart’s inaugural audience. All will be wearing their ponchos, as will Stewart.
Stewart says she’d like to have Russell Crowe on the show sometime, and that perhaps actress Jennifer Garner, who is such a devotee her dog is named Martha Stewart, will visit after she has her baby.
Stewart has been going full-bore on her two new TV shows since being released from prison in Alderson, W.Va., last spring.
Since then, she has been under house confinement, though permitted out to work 48 hours per week.
That confinement ends Aug. 31, when Stewart will be able to take off the electronic ankel bracelet she has complained is cumbersome and chafes. As she has at other public events, Stewart hiked up the leg of her brown pantsuit at a New York press conference Thursday to reveal the device.
Apprentice, Stewart Style
Her Apprentice edition was filmed over a seven-week period during the work-release portion of her home detention.
Stewart says she thought that shooting “would be difficult and the candidates would be just awful.” Instead, she says, “I had the greatest time; we really got into it.”
Stewart’s deputies on the show are her daughter, Alexis, and MSLO Chairman Charles Koppelman.
Alexis Stewart says she, too, was surprised by the Martha wanna-bes. “I was, like, ‘loser, loser, winner’ when people walked in and I was totally wrong,” she said.
Reality mega-producer Burnett, creator of Survivor and Donald Trump’s version of Apprentice, says Stewart’s version will be "a combination of arts meets business,” which he contrasted with Trump's show, about “a very rough-and-tumble real estate business in the toughest city in the world.”
A subtle difference, Stewart added, is that her show takes place mostly in the daytime, while Trump favors evening activities.
Trump, who is one of Stewart’s executive producers, will make a cameo appearance on Stewart’s show to tour the contestants' living quarters, which are billed as a “loft” compared to the “suite” where Trump’s protégées bunk.
Stewart and Burnett still won’t reveal her catch-phrase for dismissing candidates. Stewart says she doesn’t like firing people and couldn’t remember saying it to anyone, to which her daughter chimed in, “Although you should have.”
CBS has already locked up "You're Out of Style," Tommy Hilfiger's send-off on reality show, The Cut.