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Martha Stewart facing a do-or-die moment

December 5, 2010 |  7:00 am

Martha Stewart is not a sentimentalist. True, she became this country's first female self-made billionaire by pinpointing the very things many people feel most sentimental about: home-cooked meals, handmade Christmas wreaths, a warm bed with tightly tucked sheets. But she's always used those ideas to promote a lifestyle — one that can be achieved with Martha Stewart-brand products. After a reputation-damaging jail stint and a subsequent billion-dollar loss to her company, that lifestyle has become a tougher sell. Her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, reported a $14-million loss in 2009.

On the eve of her annual Christmas special bonanza — "Martha Stewart's Holiday Open House," guest-starring Jennifer Garner and Claire Danes, airs Monday on the Hallmark Channel — America's No. 1 Working Mom knows she's facing a do-or-die moment. In order to promote her merchandise, which is sold at Macy's, Home Depot and PetSmart, she needs television. And unlike her flawless croquembouche recipe, her TV ratings haven't been the very best they could be. Read the rest of the story in Sunday's Calendar:

Martha Stewart at her Manhattan taping studio in New York. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times