Is This the Beginning of the End for Martha Stewart?

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Is that fear in her eyes? Probably not. Photo: Bravo

Prison may not have brought down our nation's elder stateswoman of domestic superiority, but a couple of years of low ratings on the Hallmark Channel just might! The New York Post reports that "the economics of the [Martha Stewart Show] in its current form just don't work anymore, given the sparse audience." Looks like a few dirty sausage jokes and appearances by big celebrities like Hugh Jackman aren't enough to make people watch, and the show will stop shooting in April. Meanwhile, the 70-year-old Stewart's been shaking up her company with a crew of new executives, all of whom have worked in the entertainment industry, and the whole team has apparently been pitching other TV networks on a variety of shows featuring Stewart as a "make-over specialist."

This of course isn't the first time people have sounded a death knell for Martha we reported a year ago on her show's plummeting ratings, and many thought prison would be the end of her brand (she proved them very wrong). But the show cancellation is not the end of Martha's current troubles. Efforts to expand her retail product lines, including a new agreement with JCPenney, are pissing off longtime partners like Macy's. And Home Depot decided to dump her paint line, saying that their customers still want to use her color palette but they'd rather do so with higher quality paint bases.

And this all is happening just a month after Martha celebrated the 30th anniversary of the book that made her name, Entertaining, by putting out a new version that is basically a photo album of all the fab parties she's thrown in her various homes. (Also, there's a photo of the nativity scene she made out of clay during her five-month incarceration.)

The history of Martha on TV goes back to 1993, when CBS began airing her staid-yet-authoritative how-to program that taught viewers how to cook a perfect ham and make their own Christmas ornaments at the same time. The show was later replaced, post-prison, with the live, looser, and less gauzily shot The Martha Stewart Show, produced by Mark Burnett, starting in 2005. The show moved over to the Hallmark Channel in 2010 and has withered there ever since.

But the strangest part of today's news has to be that the MSLO team is planning "a lavish Oprah-style send off" for The Martha Stewart Show, which is sad mostly because it will air on the Hallmark Channel, and, let's face it, Martha probably hasn't ever given anyone in her audience a free car.

Martha losing show, Home Depot dumps paint [NYP]
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