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Ex-ABC exec Lyne lines up Martha gig

Appointment comes five months after joining board

NEW YORK — Former ABC Entertainment prexy Susan Lyne is going from the Mouse House to Martha’s, effective today.

Lyne was appointed president and CEO of Martha Stewart Living OmniMedia at a board meeting Thursday, replacing Sharon Patrick who informed the board she wished to resign.

Appointment comes five months after Lyne joined MSO’s board and nearly seven months after she got the ax at ABC along with ABC Entertainment TV Group chair Lloyd Braun.

“I had the summer to really think about what I wanted to do next,” Lyne told Daily Variety. “This is a company that has everything it needs to grow. It is a really strong brand and has a deep relationship with its core customers.”

Post also will bridge Lyne’s dual background in journalism and TV.

Earlier this month, Braun was tapped by Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel to head the Netco’s media and entertainment division.

Lyne has the tough job of steering Martha Stewart’s namesake company while the homemaking trendsetter serves her five-month prison term at a federal prison “Camp Cupcake” in Alderson, W.Va.

Stewart decided to serve her sentence pending her appeal in part to put the ordeal behind her and to allow the company, which was rocked by years of scandal, to recover.

Advertising plummets

The flagship magazine has sustained a precipitous drop in advertising and circulation since the brouhaha began almost three years ago and now has several strong competitors including Time Inc.’s Real Simple and Hearst’s Oprah spinoff, O at Home.

Production stopped on Stewart’s syndicated show, which now airs on the Style Network, but the company signed a deal with reality show guru Mark Burnett to revive it when she gets out of prison.

Sales of Martha Stewart Everyday-branded products at Kmart have held up relatively well, despite her legal troubles.

Link to ‘Lost,’ ‘Desperate’

Lyne and Braun are considered two of the most successful fired media execs in recent memory. Thanks to shows such as “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost,” which Lyne and Braun helped develop before being shown the door, ABC has gone overnight from rags to riches.

“I’m thrilled that the shows are doing well. I still have friends with ABC — great friends,” Lyne said. “I loved every day I worked there, by the way. And it’s really nice to see them in the flush of success.”

Lyne worked for years in publishing before she became a TV exec. She created and launched Premiere magazine in 1987 and served for eight years as its editor. She also was managing editor of the Village Voice from 1978 to 1982.

Patrick was former chief operating officer of the company and a close friend and confidante of Martha Stewart who took the helm of the company after Stewart resigned in the midst of her legal battle with federal prosecutors.

Lyne’s name has been floated for several jobs, including a top post at TV Guide. She was among the many names mentioned as a possible replacement for Paramount Pictures topper Sherry Lansing.

Lyne kept her residence in New York even when she got the West Coast entertainment job at ABC.

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