Stewart sub in the works

August 16, 2002|By NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

TV program distributor King World may be planning for life without Martha Stewart.

The company has decided to go ahead with production of a new morning talk show with co-hosts Alexandra Wentworth, the wife of George Stephanopoulos, and former ABC News correspondent Jack Ford, for launch in the fall of 2003.

New York's WCBS has already signed on to air the show, and the other CBS-owned TV stations are expected to follow.

The move immediately prompted speculation that King World, which distributes Martha Stewart Living, wants to have another program in the works in the event Stewart's legal problems prevent her from continuing her show. She is being investigated for insider stock trading.

King World's new program, tentatively titled Living It Up, is similar in format to Live with Regis & Kelly and is being billed as a potential competitor in the 9 a.m.-10 a.m. slot.

In Baltimore, WJZ, the CBS affiliate, airs Martha Stewart Living at various times after midnight.

Living It Up was in the works well before Stewart's troubles became news, according to a King World source and other TV business insiders.

But the new program can be insurance for King World in the event Stewart's time period becomes available for reasons beyond its control.

A King World spokesman declined comment.

Ford and Wentworth shot a pilot for Living It Up last month. According to people who have seen the test show, Wentworth and Ford work together in the same way as Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa.

"Jack is the straight guy and she's kind of off-the-wall and upbeat," said one insider.

Wentworth was in the original cast of the Fox sketch show In Living Color and has been a regular on The Tonight Show.

Ford most recently was a co-anchor on ABC's 20/20.

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