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Martha pic’s in Eye oven

Net courting Shepherd for encore perf as domestic diva

This article was corrected on March 24, 2005

Martha Stewart could be coming to primetime much sooner than expected courtesy of a CBS biopic being fast-tracked for a possible May sweeps broadcast.

What’s more, CBS has been talking to Cybill Shepherd about playing the domestic diva for what would be an encore perf: In 2003, NBC aired “Martha, Inc.,” in which the thesp campily played Stewart as a shrewd businesswoman.

New effort is expected to have a more serious tone than the NBC pic, with producers attempting to offer a character study of Stewart, examining how the traits that made her successful also led to her downfall as well as her rebirth. Pic will follow the downfall and (apparent) resurrection of Stewart, starting with the day she took her company public. It will then explore her trial and imprisonment, ending with her seeming rehabilitation and reinvention.

Lensing will begin March 28 in Toronto on the as-yet-untitled project. While Shepherd has been approached, no casting deals had been finalized late Wednesday.

While CBS isn’t confirming a broadcast date, the rapid production turnaround indicates the Eye may be considering the pic for broadcast before the end of the current season on May 25.

Charles Bohl (“Swimfan”) penned the script, with Tom Patricia (“Homeless to Harvard,” “Dawn Anna”) exec producing. Eric Bross, who directed USA Network’s miniseries version of “Traffic,” is on board to helm. Frank Siracusa is also set as a producer.

CBS and Stewart were once close business partners. The Eye’s syndie division distribbed the “Martha Stewart Living” syndie strip, while the domestic diva was a regular contributor to the net’s “The Early Show.”

If CBS airs its pic in May, it will trump Stewart’s planned primetime coming-out party.

Stewart’s new Mark Burnett-produced syndie skein is slated to bow in the fall, while the Stewart-hosted spinoff of “The Apprentice” is expected sometime next season as well.

Eye pic could also air around the same time as ABC’s planned biopic of original “Apprentice” host Donald Trump. Alphabet said Wednesday that Justin Louis has been cast to play the Donald in its project, dubbed “Ambition.” Katheryn Winnick is set to play Ivana Trump.

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