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Syndie Stewart skein set for ‘Hiatus’

Co. to take $2 mil restructuring charge, dismiss series' employees

“Martha Stewart Living Television,” the daily syndicated household-advice series, has officially ceased production for the 2004-05 season as Stewart awaits sentencing in federal court next month.

Convicted on charges of lying about insider trading, Stewart has continued to produce her series for the 2003-04 season, her 11th, despite the fact that dozens of TV stations dropped it following her conviction March 5. Instead of more than 90% of the U.S., the daily Stewart show now reaches TV stations in only about 52% of the country.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, her umbrella company, calls the stoppage of TV production a “hiatus,” not a cancellation. And the king of reality TV Mark Burnett (“Survivor,” “Apprentice”) met earlier this month with Stewart and Sharon Patrick, president and CEO of MSL Omnimedia, to discuss ideas for future shows covering both syndication and network TV (Daily Variety, May 14).

A spokeswoman for MSLO said the suspension of the “Martha Stewart Living” series would force the company to take a $2 million restructuring charge in the second quarter and dismiss an undisclosed number of employees of the series.

Omnimedia remains healthy, the spokeswoman said, because its TV arm delivered only $25 million to the company’s coffers in 2003 compared with $136 million from the publishing division.

Although the “Living” show will go away, Omnimedia has a deal with Tribune Entertainment to distribute a weekly half-hour series called “Pet Keeping With Marc Morrone.” Also in the works is a series of monthly syndicated half-hours based on the “Everyday Food” segment of “Martha Stewart Living.”