CBS on prowl for a great lady

Skein tests players for domestic skills

CBS thinks it’s got a good thing: Net and LMNO Prods. are launching a primetime search to find the next diva of domesticity.

With Martha Stewart headed for the big house, Eye has ordered 10 episodes of an untitled talent competish designed to yield a Martha-esque domestic superstar. LMNO’s Eric Schotz and Bill Paolantonio are exec producers of the skein, which attracted heated interest from multiple nets.

“We’re going to have 12 people who have ability in the lifestyle arena and (look for one) who can become this country’s next domestic icon,” Schotz said.

Show “will most likely take place in the Northeast, in a Connecticut-style farmhouse that’s our version of the reality mansion,” Schotz said.

Contestants will live together and compete in a series of challenges designed to test their skills at party planning, cooking, decorating and other such hallmarks of domesticity. “You might have to throw a dinner party –but then find out we’ve cut off the power,” he said.

One person working on the show said the skein would in some ways work as the Eye’s version of UPN hit “America’s Next Top Model” by appealing to both fans and non-fans of the lifestyle genre.

“It’s going to juxtapose the drama of their lives with people trying to gift wrap a basket,” the insider said. “People who aren’t interested in this genre will find it entertaining, too.”

Indeed, simply being able to cook a kick-butt lasagna while embroidering a new tablecloth won’t be enough to make it on the show.

“What it comes down to is characters you care about,” Schotz said. “The people who do this have to have great personalities.”

Casting will be open to both men and women, though it’s not yet clear if contestants will include men. Prize has also yet to be finalized, but will likely involve a way to continue the winner’s newfound fame.

As Stewart’s legal troubles have escalated, finding the next Martha has become something of a media obsession.

Numerous pubs, including Variety, have run articles identifying possible heirs to the throne. NBC’s “Today” show even launched its own on-air hunt to find a domestic diva.

CBS will no doubt be extra-sensitive in handling its project since Stewart was a Viacom employee and a former contributor to “The Early Show.” However, as WMA-repped Schotz noted, the Eye show isn’t about Stewart.

“We’re not taking cheap shots at anyone,” he said. “There’s just a gap in the marketplace, and this is the right time to find someone. There’s a billion-dollar industry to support it.”

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