"Martha Stewart Living," the series that made Martha Stewart famous, is getting a second life on television, but this time around it's not just all about ribbons and cookie cutters. This time "Martha Stewart Living" isn't so much about Martha at all but rather her daughter, Alexis Stewart, and her friend Jennifer Koppelman Hutt.
The show, called "Whatever Martha," airs on the Fine Living Network. Alexis Stewart is blunt, risque and willing to say almost anything on TV. Her chatty cohost, Jennifer Koppelman Hutt, is the daughter of businessman Charles Koppelman who currently serves as chairman of the board of directors at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
How did the whole show come about? Martha herself dreamed it up and acts as executive producer.
"Well, my mother can't sleep, and ... she used to watch, and maybe recently or a year or two ago, was watching 'Mystery Science Theater,' and she just loves it for some reason. It relaxes her. So she said, 'You know, it would be funny if you guys took my show, and commented on it like those little alien guys in 'Mystery Science Theater.''' So that's what happened," Stewart said. "I think she knows people make fun of her anyway. It might as well be people who love her."
On the show and in real life, Stewart calls her mother Martha, which seems to play into the media's portrayal of their relationship as sometimes turbulent and sometimes strained.
"I feel too old to stand in a crowd and yell 'Mom,'" said Stewart.
Stewart reveals that although she and her mother are close, they are by no means alike. Stewart said her mother saves things while she throws them away. And while Martha lives in an exquisitely elegant farmhouse in Bedford, N.Y., her daughter resides in a multimillion dollar penthouse in Manhattan, nearly all gray, with no personal photos. In the kitchen, the mother-daughter duo are quite different too.
"I cook what people want to eat, and my mother makes things that will impress them," Stewart said as she mindfully cleaned the kitchen, perhaps not surprising for the daughter of the doyenne of domesticity. "One day I was having people over and it was the middle of winter and she said what are you making, and I said I was going to make fancy macaroni and cheese and she said 'ehh.'"
Making Fun of Martha Stewart
On "Whatever Martha," Stewart and Hutt make fun of Martha's over-the-top nature. On one episode Martha whittles down perfectly straight branches for use in roasting marshmallows for s'mores. "What, so the marshmallow's don't get splinters?" Stewart reacted.
The women say that Martha has a thick skin, but they've been known to push the envelope a little too far.
"On the second day of shooting, Martha called me and said something like, 'A little less body parts talk.' But how could I not make references to a body part when there's a giant cucumber [on the table]? How could I not?" Hutt said.
It's certainly one thing to make fun of your own mother, but letting someone else make fun of your mom is something else. Stewart said that oftentimes she lets Hutt make the first move before she goes on to "say something horrible" about Martha.
"First of all, I love Martha, and she's the greatest and the most accomplished and talented. And Martha knows that, and I have the utmost respect for her," said Hutt. " But I poke fun at her the same as I poke fun at myself or Alexis."
It's that no-holds-barred, poke fun at anything and everything that's made them a hit on Sirius radio. For the past three years, Stewart and Hutt have hosted a two-hour drive-time radio show called "Whatever," where they talk about whatever they want.
They've talked about their sex lives, Stewart's boyfriends, Hutt's husband, Botox, bathroom issues and Alexis' "boob job," all of course with a healthy dose of innuendo.
The Family Business
In a lot of ways, they couldn't be more different: Hutt is married with two children and lives on Long Island. Stewart is divorced and made headlines last year when she revealed she was spending up to $28,000 a month on efforts to get pregnant.
"We're very different," said Hutt. "She's high-brow, and she'll tell you that I have plebeian taste. I like to watch as much junk on TV as I possibly can. And I like potato chips and stuff. And she won't eat that. We're both very neat. But she likes no clutter, and my house is total clutter."
So how did these two very different women meet? Where else but at "Martha Stewart Living" where both were working for their parents. Stewart and Hutt freely admit that they got their gigs because of who their parents are.
"Plumbers' sons get in because they're plumbers," Stewart said. "That's how life works. You help your children get a job."
Sometimes the children help their parents in their greatest challenges. When Martha Stewart faced jail time for obstruction of justice and lying to investigators about a well-timed stock sale, Alexis stood by her mother, attending her trial daily. Alexis said she even fainted when the verdict was read.
"I wouldn't have been anywhere else," Alexis said. "I wanted to be there for my mother."
For now, Alexis Stewart is happy to both support her mother and mock her on TV, and even allow her cohort Jennifer Hutt to poke fun at her chronic crankiness in the process.
"She's miserable, and angry," said Hutt. "But good inside, and loving and loyal, and knows that you're good, and she cares about you. There is no better friend that you could possibly have."