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HOME > The Apprentice > The Apprentice: Martha Stewart

Reality TV producer Mark Burnett to produce Martha Stewart's new post-prison daytime syndicated series


By Reality TV World staff, 12/08/2004 

Mark Burnett's ever growing empire got a little bigger today, with the reality TV uber-producer joining with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and NBC Universal to announce that they have teamed together to bring the currently imprisoned domestic diva back to daytime television.

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Set to premiere in Fall 2005, Stewart's new syndicated daily daytime series will be executive produced by Burnett and distributed by NBC Universal's Domestic Television Distribution division, with the series already set to air on NBC's owned-and-operated local affiliates.

Burnett and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, the publicly traded corporation that operates Stewart's empire, had announced a collaboration agreement back in September. Per the terms of the agreement, Burnett was to collaborate with the company on several new television opportunities, including both an "evolution" of her Martha Stewart Living daily syndicated television show (which was effectively cancelled in May following her obstruction of justice conviction) and the development of a primetime network television series starring Stewart.

The announcement deal followed Burnett's earlier public comments in which he expressed interest in producing such a show for his self-described "good friend."

Beyond a mention that the daytime series would be "the first" of their collaborations, today's announcement made no mention on the status of the primetime reality series project. Last week, The Hollywood Reporter had stated that the parties were "close" to signing a deal for NBC to broadcast the proposed primetime series.

The new hour-long daytime show will be taped live with a studio audience and feature a new programming format that allows audience members and special guests to participate and interact with Stewart. Segment topics will include everything from cooking and entertaining to decorating and home renovating.

"This is the first of several new initiatives at MSO that will have positive implications across the entire spectrum of our business," stated Susan Lyne, the president and CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. "The new format should appeal to Martha’s loyal core audience, as well as a new generation of viewers interested in home and lifestyle."

"Martha has incredible value and enduring appeal. As the arbiter of taste, Martha teaches people in a practical, helpful manner how to include style in everyday living. Our new show will build on this Emmy-award-winning formula by incorporating more interaction, accessibility, vibrancy, and most importantly, humor. Together, I know we can create a show that breaks new ground in daytime, and bring new viewers to Martha’s already strong base," said Burnett.

"I have known Martha since her days on Today and am thrilled to have her back in the NBC Universal family," said Jeff Zucker, president of NBC Universal Television Group. "Martha is a proven winner across all media. The power of the brand is stronger than ever and a terrific addition to the NBC Universal Distribution portfolio. Martha is an incredibly appealing and engaging talent with an enormously loyal following. We look forward to working with Martha, Susan Lyne and Mark Burnett to bring the new program to millions of viewers next year."

The Martha Stewart series marks Burnett's first foray into daytime television. Burnett has steadily expanded his production empire since first shooting to fame in Summer 2000 with Survivor. In addition to developing numerous additional reality shows for networks including CBS, NBC, Fox, The WB, and USA Network, the one-time Eco-Challenge creator has branched out into other areas.

Beyond his unscripted series, the former Venice Beach T-shirt salesman is developing scripted sitcom and drama pilots for both The WB and NBC (he developed a Lost-like drama called Eden for NBC last year -- only to see the network pass on the idea and watch Lost become one of the fall season's biggest new hits), recently launched his own foreign distribution company, and is developing movie adaptions of two religious novels.

Burnett received a warrant to purchase up to 2,500,000 shares of MSO common stock at an exercise price of $12.59 per share as part of the Martha Stewart collaboration agreement his signed back in September.

Shares of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia have jumped from about $14 at the time of the initial reports of Burnett's involvement to (as of the close of business today) $24.43 a share -- meaning that so far Burnett has earned a paper profit of over $26,000,000 on the deal. Maybe he should dump bankrupt casino owner Donald Trump as the star of his The Apprentice series... and take over the role himself.

(Photo credit NBC)


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