Martha Stewart's Company Hires Burnett to Create TV Show

Mark Burnett (search), creator of the hit reality TV shows "Survivor" and "The Apprentice," will develop a new prime-time television series featuring Martha Stewart (search), her company said Tuesday.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (MSO) Wednesday said it struck a deal with Burnett but did not specify the type of show, and had no indication whether cameras would actually follow Stewart into a federal penitentiary.

"If all of a sudden the show is let's (do) Martha Stewart Living in prison...Fox would buy that," said Robert Thompson, professor of media and culture at Syracuse University.

He added, "But that isn't going to happen."

Stewart, who turned her mastery of homemaking into a media empire, is now headed to prison after being convicted in March of lying about a suspicious stock sale. She must start serving out a five-month prison sentence by Oct. 8.

Company spokespeople from either companies were not immediately available for further comment.

Burnett, who hatched the reality TV frenzy with "Survivors" on the CBS television network in 2000, will also consult on various television projects including updating Martha Stewart Living syndicated show.

"Now that we are able to anticipate Martha's return, we are delighted to move forward with the evolution of Martha's syndicated daily show and offer new network special programs," Sharon Patrick, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia CEO, said in a statement."

As part of the deal, the company issued Burnett a warrant to purchase up to 2.5 million shares of the company's Class A common stock at an exercise price of $12.59 a share. Shares closed the day up 17 cents, or 1.15 percent at $14.98 on the New York Stock Exchange (search).

The company's deal with Burnett, while hotly anticipated, marks an about-face for the company as it has sought to mute its association with its founder during and after the trial.

The company stripped Stewart's tagline from its Everyday Food (search) magazine and said it would downplay her name on the flagship Martha Stewart Living magazine.

Stewart is expected to serve her sentence at a facility in either Danbury, Conn. or Coleman, Fla.