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Last Updated: Friday, 4 March 2005, 16:04 GMT
What's next for Martha Stewart?
By Joia Shillingford
BBC News business reporter

Martha Stewart
Could Martha Stewart turn notoriety into profits?
Martha Stewart, the millionaire homemaking guru, is out of jail and under house arrest, but what are her prospects for making more money?

Pretty good if early indications are anything to go by. She could even end up profiting from her experience.

She already had two TV series in the bag before she sped out of jail in a sports utility vehicle on Friday.

And shares in her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, jumped nearly two dollars on Thursday.

The rise was in anticipation that its fortunes would improve on her release.

"American chief executives accused of serious financial crimes are not reviled the way they would be in Europe," the BBC's North America business correspondent Stephen Evans told the BBC's Today programme.

Starring role

Donald Trump
Donald Trump's "You're fired!" catchphrase might not be appropriate for Martha

In February, while Martha was still in jail, she was signed up to host a US series of The Apprentice, a hit reality TV show made famous by property billionaire Donald Trump, whose trademark phrase was "You're fired".

In NBC's The Apprentice, participants will compete for a job at Martha Stewart's company, which is now run by her daughter.

Mr Trump has also arranged a revival of Ms Stewart's syndicated lifestyle show, with a live audience and celebrity guests.

Creative input

She is now set to make two TV programmes a week, but even without her TV appearances, Ms Stewart has plenty to get out of bed for.

Her company Martha Stewart Living will pay her 900,000 a year for her creative input and she will write a column for her magazine.

She also hopes to boost the fortunes of her company, which produces everything from television shows and magazines to bed sheets and bakeware.

Details about how she will work will be determined in the next few days at a meeting with her probation officer.

She won't be allowed to run the business while under house arrest, following a ban from the US financial watchdog, the SEC. But this could free her time to come up with new business ideas.

Prison diaries?

Martha Stewart outside court
Did Martha keep prison diaries? Her story will be in demand

Ms Stewart is likely to be offered six-figure sums by newspapers and magazines for her experiences of life in jail. But if she keeps shtum, she could earn millions from a book-publishing deal.

An enigmatic comment published on her web site on Friday, suggests she is not ready to spill the beans on life in prison yet.

"The experience of the last five months ... has been life altering and life affirming," Ms Stewart said in a statement issued on her web site.

"Someday, I hope to have the chance to talk more about all that has happened, the extraordinary people I have met here and all that I have learned."

On the menu

She comes out an apparently chastened figure, or at least that is the spin
Stephen Evans, BBC North America business correspondent
There is also scope for prison-related cookbooks, with advice on eating on a budget.

Ms Stewart is said to have cooked up meals in the prison microwave, and to have gathered dandelions and wild greens from prison grounds as ingredients.

She is also likely to be in demand for television appearances on high-profile chatshows like Oprah.

If she accepts, she may be able to sell more of her company's homeware products in outlets like US retail chain K-mart as a result.

Taste of freedom

Being Martha Stewart
Born: 3 Aug, 1941
Family: one of 6 children
Parents: Polish immigrants
Grew up: Nutley, New Jersey
Married: 1961
Early jobs: Wall St stockbroker - till 1973, catering
First book: Entertaining, 1982
Husband moved out: 1987
Floated company: 1999
Influence: one of America's 25 Most Influential (Time 1996)
Resigned: from board of MSO: March 2004
Jail: October 2004
Signed for The Apprentice: Feb 2005
Hairdresser: Eva Scrivo, New York

Ms Stewart will be allowed to leave her home for up to 48 hours a week for her job.

But she lives in an extensive 153-acre estate in Bedford, 40 minutes outside New York City, and is likely to be able to do all kinds of work from there, using state-of-the-art office equipment.

She will also be able to invite friends and neighbours and business people over - so long as they are not convicted felons - as felons are not encouraged to socialise with other felons.

She may even gain new fans among people who found her smug before and like the more-contrite Martha. But it all depends on what kind of impression she makes in the first few days after leaving jail.

First impressions

Donald Trump
A comeback king himself, Donald Trump could be a model for Martha

The early indications are good. After leaving prison, a slim, smiling Martha wearing an understated grey wool poncho, was seen boarding a private jet - with no hint of the arrogance that preceded her jail term.

There's a very careful spin operation underway - a hairdresser has been in, the BBC's correspondent said.

He added that the television media were given a van at the airport to put their equipment in so they could show Ms Stewart boarding the private jet.

They could not get sight of her before as her sports utility vehicle sped past reporters at the West Virginia low-security jail.

She comes out an apparently-chastened figure, or at least that is the spin.

Her celebrity will be cultivated and celebrated, but whether the punters buy into it - that is another matter.


SEE ALSO
Trump revamps his Apprentice show
24 Dec 04 |  Entertainment
Trump Hotels files for bankruptcy
22 Nov 04 |  Business
Millionaires behind bars
07 Oct 04 |  Business
Five months in jail for Stewart
16 Jul 04 |  Business

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