Fast Company

The Inmate 55170-054 Show

It might be the fastest corporate comeback ever. Domestic diva turned Big House felon Martha Stewart is still serving a five-month sentence for obstructing justice, but she has already lined up her next job.

Earlier today, Susan Lyne, the newly crowned CEO of Stewart's empire, announced that the soon-to-be-ex-con will be hosting a syndicated daytime TV show on homemaking next fall. Survivor and The Apprentice producer Mark Burnett and NBC have signed Inmate 55170-054 to a deal worth an estimated $8 million, slightly more than her 11-cents-an-hour arrangement with Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia.

Lyne: "The new format should appeal to Martha's loyal core audience, as well as a new generation of viewers interested in home and lifestyle."

NBC's Jeff Zucker: "Martha is a proven winner across all media. The power of the brand is stronger than ever."

Burnett: "As the arbiter of taste, Martha teaches people in a practical, helpful manner how to include style in everyday living."

All this about a woman who is not yet out of prison. Impressive, unseemly, or surreal? (You can only pick one.)

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2 Comments

  • gautam g

    Surreal...
    I guess white-collar crimes are still not considered "that bad" by a majority of people.. I suppose if she had been convicted of mugging people in parking lots, it would've been different (one hopes).
    Beyond that, I guess Martha is very good at what she does, to be able to survive a conviction. This is case where the brand is backed up by a solid product - its not just glamour and PR.
    Seems they can't find anyone who can dispense the same quality of advice with the same effectiveness as Martha does. Maybe its also a case of executive lethargy. Why undertake the hard work & risk of finding an alternative when you got a sure winner? TV (and business at large) isn't exactly known for its high moral standards.

  • William Arruda

    This just shows the power of branding. One of the benefits of having a strong brand is 'bouncing back from challenging times.' Her fans will remain loyal because the reason she is in prison has nothing to do with why she is revered. If we had learned that she didn't know how to make a paper mache snowflake or didn't create any of her recipes, she would have gone the way of Milli Vanilli. Her five month prison sentence is just a tiny diversion. Like her or not, Martha is one of the most successful personal brands of our time, and we are going to be seeing her for a long time.