Remembering: The Martha Stewart Show

On Tuesday, Martha Stewart and her team of producers taped one of their last live episodes of The Martha Stewart Show at the Chelsea Studios in Manhattan. Martha Moments reader (and First Lady favourite!) David Bondarchuck sent me this photo right after he attended the taping. David, who was a guest on the show just before Christmas, said he cried as he listened to Martha speak about her seven years doing live television and reminisce about some of the highlights. Once the cameras had stopped rolling, everyone on staff came out to the main stage to take a final bow - a poignant moment that garnered lots of applause. It wasn't all about farewells, however. Martha said she is very excited about going back to PBS and revealed to the audience that in addition to Martha's Cooking School, she and her team of producers are working on a gardening show for PBS as well! So, there is something else to look forward to!
Many of us fans - probably most of us - have always been steadfast in our love for what has come to be known among our kind as "the old format." In short, we preferred the informative, well-timed and well-edited taped program from the 1990s and early 2000s, Martha Stewart Living, to the live pace of The Martha Stewart Show. Still, with the show coming to an end, I can't help but feel nostalgic about its finale. Even though we did not have the show in Canada for the last two years, it was comforting knowing I could attend a live taping whenever I was in New York. I liked hearing about Martha's weekends, her trips, her little adventures around the farm.

There was something fresh and vibrant and fun about the show - a new side to Martha that I feel, in hindsight, really needed to be expressed to the public. They were an adventurous seven years for Martha and her team, no doubt, not to mention representative of a lot of very hard work. Below are some remembrances...
Chef Mario Batali inspired the name of this blog when he was a guest on Oprah Winfrey's show. Martha looks lovely in orange - a sweater from Anthropologie! Martha making 'special brownies' with Snoop Dogg: a classic clip that will surely go down in history. Two of my favourites from the show: Joey Kola, who is one of the nicest men in the world, and Aaron Caramanis, who has been working on Martha's television shows since the 1990s. He is an exceptional builder and conceptualizer, responsible for many of the Halloween and Holiday sets. I met them both when I was a guest on Martha's show and they each put me at ease with words of encouragement before the show went live.
Obviously, one of the biggest highlights of my life so far was being asked to be a guest on Martha's show in January, 2010. That's me, above, posing with Martha and some of the other bloggers, including Alexis Stewart and Jennifer Koppleman-Hutt. You can also see the beautiful sign that was made for me by crafter Kristin St. Clair out of yarn. It was attached to the basket of Martha Stewart Clean products that I received as a gift for coming on the show.

That day was such a dream come true for me. Not only did I meet Martha Stewart in person, have a private conversation with her and present her with a special gift and personal letter, but I also got to do a craft segment with her on live television! My day at the studio was thrilling and I cannot express enough how kind, sincere and really wonderful the people who work on this show are. They are so devoted to what they do. The producer of my segment, Lenore Welby, is someone I will always hold in very high regard. She essentially made the dream come true and I will always be grateful to her, just as I am to Martha. What an honor it was to be a part of the award-winning season five of The Martha Stewart Show! I will honestly never forget it.
This is one of my most treasured keepsakes from the Martha Stewart Show. It is a very large, very sturdy tote bag that was given to me by my friend Kenn after he attended a taping. For awhile, there was a small store in the audience waiting area where people could buy t-shirts, bags and caps - even umbrellas! Kenn generously thought of me and got me this tote bag. It is emblazoned with the MARTHA logo that stretches around the sides of the bag. Inside, it is striped with a zipper pouch tagged with the official Martha Stewart Show logo. It's very well made and I keep it in fine condition!

Before I was a guest on the show I had attended a taping of Martha in 2006. Even as an audience member, the experience was wonderul. Obviously, many of you have attended tapings of the show and everyone I have ever spoken to has said what a thrill it was to see Martha in person. That is perhaps one element that will be deeply missed by fans: the opportunity to see Martha live. As much as we all love the well-edited, beautifully-presented, informative style of the Martha Stewart Living program - a format that will be returned to with the new PBS shows this fall - we must admit some disappointment in not being able to be a part of a live audience, privy to the excitement of the production and behind-the-scenes intrigue.  In the end, I will look back fondly on The Martha Stewart Show. It was a necessary phase of evolution in Martha's television career and it yielded some really wonderful, candid moments.



Kenn said...

I think you're right, Andrew.. this was an essential part of the evolution. After the "dark days" this format did allow viewers to see a more candid side of Martha. While never my favorite format, it is sad to see it end.
I was thrilled to see your photos of the tote bag! I love mine so much.. and yes, I'm one of the crazy people that bought an umbrella. It's rather 'festive' on a rainy day!
Best wishes to everyone who was a part of the Martha Stewart Show and a big thanks for the many years of all your hard work.

Sarah in Tacoma WA said...

I am so glad I was able to go to a taping 5 years ago and see Martha. I still think she was so pretty, tall and slender in person. I hope all of the employees will find themselves employed with the new shows as they are all so talented at what they do.

I have been trying to find an actual air date for the final show in May but haven't found it yet. I know reruns will go through the summer. Does anyone know?

Pru @ Perfecting Pru said...

Whenever you show photos from the show or there are photos on Martha's blog I think back fondly to the day when mum and I attended a taping. It was the first of the holiday season and I loved it. I haven't watched much of the show on the internet recently (they are always such short bits) but I enjoyed her off the cuff remarks and her humour - especially when things went wrong.

Oh, and the bag - they are great aren't they? I used mine yesterday!

Karin said...

I will truly miss this show, it was a favorite amongst the women in my family. We would all gather up and watch her show, such great memories. It's sad, but excited to see the new show.

Annouck said...

Hello, does anyone know if we will still be able to watch the old Martha Stewart Show on her website once she is on PBS?

I really hope so.

Also do you know if I will be able to watch her new show on PBS on Sky in the UK?

thank you

I love your blog

Rowaida said...

Oh Andrew I love love your post, what you said is so beautiful. I remember watching the segment with you being her guest, so lucky. Going to miss her shows, I am hoping that she will surprise us with a new show soon, other than Martha's Cooking School, you never know! Let us wait and see.


Thanks, Rowaida! She told the audience they're working on a new gardening show for PBS, in addition to the new cooking show, but no details yet.

barbara said...

To sarah in tocama wa, unfortunely I never got to see Martha in person but when you said how pretty,tall and slender she was,that takes me back to the best photo I ever saw of her in one Of her magazines,it was in the fall when she was standing in her front door waring an orange sweater,and an orange scarf.The front door had a hugh bittersweet wreath on it.That's my all time favorite photo!

Roberta Palumbo said...

Great tribute, Andrew! I am sad to see her live show end, as I've said before, but we'll get through it, somehow:) To Sarah in Tacoma: in her daily blog today, Martha mentioned that her final show would be televised in May - before Mother's Day.

Margaret Roach said...

Nice to read this recap, Andrew, and also to see the beautiful piece you did on Beekman 1802 blog about me. You are (as ever) exceptionally kind. Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

I didnt know about the end of Martha's show and I have been like a choco-holic without her chocolate not being able to see her each day and enjoy her multi-faceted program. I loved taking notes and look up things she would reference on the program. My need for what she offered has gone unsatisfied and I doubt that nothing will take its place. There is a little dark cloud above me. I will say thank you Martha for all the years you gave us your self in the program, thank you for all your bright and entertaining colleagues who shared your stage. You all became endearing. This is the stuff of life.