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Oprah’s O mag tests waters

Offshoot inspired by Comfort Zone home design section

Oprah Winfrey is trying to steal some of Martha Stewart’s dying flame.

The October issue of the popular talk-show host’s magazine O will include a 48-page home-design supplement bundled and sent to the mag’s 1.6 million subscribers.

Hearst Corp., which owns the Oprah Magazine along with Winfrey, will publish two more test issues of O at Home next year, before determining whether to launch the mag as a regular publication.

“We’re waiting to see the success of the supplement before moving forward,” said Elizabeth Dye, spokeswoman for the Oprah Magazine.

The offshoot is inspired by a section in O called Comfort Zone, which in the December issue featured Martha Stewart-style home decorating themes and sold 850,000 on newsstands.

The domesticated O comes as sales of Stewart’s own magazine are faltering.

Stewart mag’s sales slow

In the last six months of 2002 newsstand sales for the 2.27 million circulation Martha Stewart Living were down 21.8% compared with the same period in 2001.

The decline is attributed partly to Stewart’s tarnished image following her suspicious sale of ImClone stock in 2001, for which she was indicted on five counts in June. Following the charges Stewart stepped down as CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. She has denied wrongdoing and will be tried in January.

Newsstand sales at the 2 million circulation O were down a less dramatic 10.3%.