Martha Stewart to give 30-minute TV lesson on better living TV PREVIEWS

September 18, 1993|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Staff Writer

Martha Stewart already has her books, her magazine, her videos and her frequent guest shots on "Today," "Oprah," "Live With Regis & Kathie Lee" and "David Letterman."

So what else does a lifestyle authority need?

Her own television show, of course.

Enter "Martha Stewart Living," a weekly TV exploration of everything from planning a candlelight dinner to angling for bluefish in the Atlantic. It premieres this week in more than 110 TV markets across the country, including Baltimore and Washington.

The program airs here at 7 a.m. Sundays on WJZ (Channel 13) and 1 p.m. Sundays on WJLA (Channel 7) in Washington, and debuts in both cities tomorrow.

"I'd been thinking of television as an excellent medium for our subject matter for a long, long time," says Ms. Stewart from her Westport, Conn., home, which serves as headquarters for the TV show.

"What we're trying to do is bring it within the realm of everybody, and I mean everybody. Everybody would like to improve their lives, wouldn't they?"

In each half-hour show -- 15 have been completed and a second 15 are in the works -- she says she aims to provide practical information about "do-able" projects, "more imaginatively, more creatively and, I think, more aesthetically."

But she argues against any suggestion the show targets the more upwardly mobile viewers among television's broad, broad audience.

"Even in the magazine we're not geared to economics. . . . It's all affordable," she says. The Time Inc. publication, also called Martha Stewart Living, was launched in mid-1991 and now boasts a circulation of 725,000.

"We're not highbrow, we're not scaring people away," she says, noting TV adds a new audience for her advice on making life more livable.

Topics in the first run of programs include: planning a festive candlelight supper, growing roses, planning a Halloween party, making Christmas cookies, assembling a home tool kit, shopping at an outdoor produce market, painting a porch floor and, yes, fishing for bluefish off Montauk Point.

Many viewers have seen Ms. Stewart on public TV in the annually rebroadcast special "At Home With Martha Stewart This Christmas." She has also produced six instructional videos, including four on cooking and two on renovating and finishing projects.

But she says the new series is an attempt to use TV in a new way. "Really, this is the beginning of what I see as our form of interactive TV."

For example, each show includes the airing of a toll-free telephone number viewers can use to seek more information, such as additional recipes or further resources. Viewers also can subscribe to a free newsletter elaborating on topics.

"I think people are waiting for this kind of information," Ms. Stewart says, and urges viewers to use their VCRs to record shows for re-viewing.

Except for early risers, Baltimore viewers will have to set their tape machines to see it even once. Ms. Stewart just sighs when informed how early in the morning her show is being seen here.

"It's not that way everywhere. We designed the show for a weekend day, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.," she says, noting viewers in New York and Chicago see the show at a more civilized 8:30 a.m. on Sundays.

"We're just starting and we hope people will find us," she says.

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