The CNN Original Series ‘The Many Lives of Martha Stewart’ Goes Beyond the Brand

Michele Stueven


She’s been known as the ultimate domestic goddess, entrepreneur, mother, daughter, perfectionist, meanie, and jailbird. At the age of 81, Martha Stewart became a sex symbol when she posed on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Love her or hate her, the lifestyle empress and media mogul is a household name.

On Sunday, Jan. 28, the four-part original CNN series, The Many Lives of Martha Stewart, premieres and takes an extensive look at her life with never-before-seen images from Stewart’s past, archival footage from her numerous sit-downs on CNN’s Larry King Live, and exclusive interviews with her former employees, colleagues, fellow inmates, and closest confidantes.

The series tracks her ascent from being a young female stockbroker on Wall Street in the 1960s, at a time that was so anti-female you couldn’t even be a clerk on the floor, and her ambition as a caterer from a farmhouse in Connecticut to the female self-made billionaire she is today. It’s an unapologetic and ironic look at a woman who went against the perfect household ideals of the ’60s and ended up a poster child for making it on her own in a man’s world. While other women were burning their bras, Stewart was publishing books on the perfect wedding and how to entertain. It illustrates her monumental success, traumatic fall from grace, and resurrection.

While Stewart herself declined to be interviewed for the series, close friends like Entertaining author Elizabeth Hawes share stories about cooking endive quiches and double dates with Stewart and her former husband Andrew Stewart in the early 1960s. Former catering staff details the stress of her success on the marriage and Stewart herself addresses the dissolution on clips from various talk shows.

The series goes behind the scenes and takes a look at the personal life of the author of 99 books and how she built her beloved Turkey Hill compound in Connecticut from the ground up complete with chicken coops and vegetable gardens. It details her dramatic fall from grace in 2004 when she was found guilty on four counts of obstruction of justice and lying to investigators in a highly publicized trial attended by her daughter Alexis every day, involving insider trading. Stewart was sentenced to five months of prison, five months of house arrest, and two years of probation. Many blame the downfall on her own hubris. But ever focused and after leaving prison 20 pounds lighter, she rose from the ashes.

“She had to go through all the same indignities we did of becoming a prisoner,” a former fellow inmate at Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia Susan Spry says, of the icon of design and cooking in the final installment. “She got strip searched and had her possessions taken away just like the rest of us.”

Setting The Table airs on Sunday, Jan. 28, at 9 p.m., followed by Crafting and Empire at 10 p.m. In Hot Water airs on Sunday, Feb. 4, at 9 p.m., followed by The Comeback at 10 p.m.


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By Michele Stueven , , a-e-d,TV ,

2024-01-24 20:41:40 , The Village Voice , The CNN Original Series ‘The Many Lives of Martha Stewart’ Goes Beyond the Brand

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