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Martha connects with her fans
Domestic diva chats on the Web about her ankle monitor, no 'Camp Cupcake' memoir and TV.
March 14, 2005: 10:00 PM EST
Martha Stewart, working at home during her 5-month confinement, chatted with fans online Monday.
Martha Stewart, working at home during her 5-month confinement, chatted with fans online Monday.

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Martha Stewart is back playing hostess again.

The queen of domesticity, in her second week out of prison and back at work, threw a virtual party Monday night for her fans via a wide-ranging Web chat. In it, she described her ankle bracelet, life in prison and, of course, what's next for her and her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (Research).

The 63 year-old Stewart spent the last five months in a minimum-security prison in West Virginia following her conviction for lying to government investigators looking into a personal stock sale she made in late 2001.

Now confined to her New York estate until August, Stewart told her on-line guests that she was fitted with an electronic bracelet last week. She described the rubber-and-wire device as "rigid" and "somewhat uncomfortable and irritating." She also said exercising with it on is difficult.

"I wish it were removable but it is not," wrote Stewart, who said she was chatting at her kitchen table in Bedford, N.Y. with the help of three employees, including Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia editorial director Margaret Roach.

Stewart noted that she's not allowed to take off her ankle bracelet "at any time" nor is she allowed, while at home, to have any padding under the strap around her ankle. "I hope none of you ever have to wear one," she wrote.

Stewart's comments were possible because, under terms of her house arrest, she can work at home and also leave the premises for up to 48 hours a week. Stewart spent a portion of that weekly allowance traveling last week to Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia's New York offices, where her public address to employees was broadcast on television.

Marketing experts have said that Stewart, in order to refurbish her tarnished image, has to be aggressive about winning back consumers. Since her release, Stewart has appeared humble, rejuvenated and -- just as important, according to brand consultants -- no longer the perfectionist.

Indeed, Stewart started off Monday night's chat by confessing that preparations had "not gone off as smoothly as planned" thanks to a downed power line and a backup generator that was not connected to telephone or Internet lines.

She also admitted that her Bedford home, which has been undergoing renovations since she bought it in 2000, has "very little" furniture.

In other confessions, she said she spent most of her time in prison resting and in a "good mood." She said she didn't miss material things, or driving in a car or paying bills or using the telephone or e-mail. She did miss her pets and "maybe fresh lemons."

She said she doesn't plan to write a memoir about her stay at the federal prison for women in Alderson, W. Va. But she said she'll include a section about her incarceration when she writes her autobiography.

Responding to questions about her upcoming television shows, Stewart said thousands have applied to compete on a spin-off of "The Apprentice" that is expected to air next fall and will star Stewart. The winner will land a $250,000-a-year position at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

The show's creators, including top Hollywood producer Mark Burnett, are still in the process of selecting the contestants. She did not say when taping was scheduled to start and where.

And she said she was open to suggestions for her own version of Donald Trump's signature "You're fired!" sign off at the end of each segment.

No ideas -- like "Get out of the kitchen!" -- came up during the on-line Q&A.

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Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Incorporated
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