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Me and Martha Stewart

by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer (May 7, 2007)

(Note: This is reprinted with permission from Julie's blog at http://balzerdesigns.typepad.com.)

I went to a taping of the Martha Stewart TV show today. The studio is in Chelsea and Martha was kicking off "Scrapbooking Week" in this episode, which will air on Monday, May 7. I didn't bring my camera, so I don't have any photos, but I thought I'd share the experience for those of you who are curious.

We were instructed to show up at the studio by 12:30 pm. The show would tape at 2 pm. What to wear: "Dress your Best! Cute jeans, chic dress, or a fun outfit bright colors photograph best, and we ask that you refrain from wearing white. Men polo type shirts or a button up shirt are best, with or without a blazer or jacket it's your call. No hats, t-shirts or sleeveless tops, please." We were also told to bring a government ID and our scrapbooks.

So I did.

Once you pick up your ticket, you wait in a line outside. Once inside, you go through a metal detector and they search your bag. You can then check your coat and have a seat in the holding area. There are enormous photos all around. One is of Martha with two dogs and the rest are fuzzy cats and puppies with big eyes.

I sat with some lovely ladies from the Manhattan Scrapbook Meetup Group. We shared our scrapbooks and ate some of Martha's chocolate chip cookies. They were fine. Nothing particularly ethereal or amazing. But, they were cookies!

After a while, anybody who wanted to share their scrapbook on air was asked to show their books to some of the production assistants. We did. They were rushed and clearly looking for something (and someone) in particular. About an hour into sitting around, the audience fluffer (probably rightfully called the audience warmer) came out and gave his spiel about clapping and having a lot of energy. I liked him. But, I changed my mind when he became extraordinarily patronizing during the course of the show. ("Did you take that photograph? And you glued it to the page all by yourself?")

They called the tickets in small batches. We were instructed to remove our scrapbooks from our bags ("easier for seating.") After most of the audience was seated, they moved all the young, thin women into the front. This is TV after all, right?

The studio was very cool. Tons of lights (can't I take one or two home to Milk Can's theatre?) and various "areas" such as the kitchen, craft room, potting shed, etc. It was fun to see because on TV, it really looks separate. But, it's not.

Martha taped seven segments with us. My favorite was with chef and cookbook author Patricia Wells. She has a new cookbook that I was thrilled to receive as a giveaway! It's called Vegetable Harvest. Now, I haven't had time to look through the book, but the three recipes she cooked on air looked easy and delicious! Can't wait to try it!

The one thing that really soured me on the whole experience was Martha's crafting segment. She made a sort of family tree shadow box. Now, I understand that Martha Stewart is a business woman and a figurehead and is not sitting at home coming up with all the "good things" and project ideas. Duh. But, I was really offended when she didn't know the names of her own tools!!! She instructed us to use "construction paper" to mat our photos. Any scrapbooker knows that this is not what she meant (construction paper is non-archival). She then referred to foam adhesive as "sponge like things" and later as "feet." Finally, she called the paper punch from HER OWN SCRAPBOOKING LINE "a paper cutter." I mean, the thing even says "paper punch" on the box!

Now, you may think I'm completely overreacting, but I thought it was rude to not even take the time to learn the names of the things you're marketing. I guess the article in the Wall Street Journal this week titled "Dowdy Craft Business Gets Martha Stewart Makeover" is part of the reason. The thing is, Martha touts herself as an expert. I know it's fake, but I feel really let down.

After the taping, Martha answered audience questions. I have to say, she was wearing some amazing high heels: gold platforms. Pretty hot.

We were let out of the studio around 4 pm. I went to visit my favorite quilt shop (The City Quilter), since I was in the neighborhood. One of the gals who works there, asked me if I got anything free. I showed off my cookbook (yay!) and some Martha Stewart scrapbooking supplies (to make the family tree shadow box) we received. She told me some people from the morning show had come into the shop earlier and were deeply disappointed to have received nothing. Made me feel very lucky.

Funny anecdote: On my way out of the studio, a man with a postcard of Montel Williams stopped me. He was standing in front of a limo. "Do you want to go to a taping of the Montel Show? We're taking everyone over in a limo!" I was bowled over. They're so desperate for an audience, they're trying to steal them from other shows?! Bizarre.

(Note: Julie is a member of the All American Scrapbook Co. design team, and her quilts, writing, and page layouts have won awards and been published in books and magazines. Look for her layouts in Leisure Arts' upcoming book, Doodling for Papercrafters, in Cantata Books' Hip Chicks, and Simple Scrapbooks' July/August issue. To contact Julie, email balzerdesigns@gmail.com.)



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