Hollywood Digest

May 22, 2002 at 4:58 PM
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Plans are under way for a TV movie based on "Martha Inc." -- Christopher Byron's best-selling book about super-homemaker Martha Stewart.

According to a report in Daily Variety, producer Howard Braunstein has acquired rights to the book, and is pitching it as a two-hour movie for NBC.

The book chronicles the rise of Stewart from her working-class origins in New Jersey, as she became one of the richest women in America by marketing her version of elegant living. Byron is a neighbor of Stewart's in Westport, Conn.

He told Variety Stewart originally offered to cooperate with the book, then decided not to.

"What she wanted was, I'd go take notes on her life story as told by her," he said, "which you can read every month in her magazine."

Byron said Stewart has "the largest cult following on earth ... people who think she really walks on water."

Braunstein said that's one of the things that make a TV movie appealing.

"This is a person who created a billion-dollar business out of nothing," he said. "I read it in a manuscript and thought, 'This really is the American dream.'"


Angelina Jolie reportedly received death threats last year when she donated $1 million to help refugees in Afghanistan.

Jolie -- who this week donated $100,000 to a camp in Thailand for refugees from Myanmar -- told the London Daily Express she decided on her Afghanistan donation based on where she saw the need.

"When I gave the money, there was $275 million (given) toward the World Trade Center victims," she said. "If that hadn't been the case, that's where my money would have gone."

The Oscar-winning star of "Girl, Interrupted" said the negative reaction to her contribution last year made her "really angry."


A preliminary hearing for actress Winona Ryder on four felony counts related to her shoplifting arrest in Beverly Hills, Calif. last December has been continued until June 3.

The Oscar-nominated star ("The Age of Innocence," "Girl, Interrupted") pleaded not guilty in February. She has been charged with one count each of grand theft, commercial burglary, vandalism and possession of a controlled substance, in connection with her arrest.

Prosecutors accuse her of shoplifting more than $4,000 worth of hair accessories, handbags and items of clothing from a Saks Fifth Avenue store. Her lawyer, Mark Geragos, told CNN prosecutors are being overzealous.


NBC rode a wave of viewer interest fueled by "Friends," "Fear Factor" and "Law & Order," and capitalized on the strong performance of the Winter Olympics -- to finish the 2001-02 TV season in first place.

The network beat second-place Fox by 33 percent among adults 18-49 -- the widest margin in the history of the people-meter system Nielsen uses to measure audiences. CBS President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves congratulated NBC, but pointed out that if you don't count NBC's Olympics numbers, his network finished first among all viewers.

With the May sweeps ending on Tuesday night, NBC had a lock on sweeps wins in both adults 18-49 and total viewers. CBS will finish the sweeps in second place among adults 18-49.

ABC will finish the sweeps in third place overall, but in fourth place -- behind Fox -- among viewers 18-49.

NBC had the highest rated telecast of the May sweeps with the eighth season finale of "Friends," which attracted 34.9 million viewers.


Rosie O'Donnell is leaving her Emmy-winning daytime TV talk show after Wednesday's episode -- but don't expect her to stop talking.

In an interview with the New York Daily News, O'Donnell called herself "an Irish loudmouth" and promised that she will continue to speak out on issues -- in much the way she has done during the run of her show.

When "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" debuted in 1996, she made it her mission to give viewers a warmer, more positive experience than they got from the more confrontational shows like "Geraldo," "Sally Jessy Raphael" and "Jerry Springer." Her show was a hit right out of the gate.

O'Donnell happy to put the daily grind behind her.

"I have enough money and I'm done," she said. "I want to be able to take my kids to school instead of having to get up and get into show mode."

O'Donnell said she does not have a plan for the future, but she figures she will maintain a public profile.

"I've got a big mouth and it's hard to keep it shut," she said.

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