Vol. 3, Issue 7, March 8, 2005
Martha Faces Challenge of Merging Corporation with Prison Gang
Known for her tough management style before prison, Stewart will need to show a more diplomatic side as she returns to Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. and integrates her newly recruited prison gang with her corporate minions, industry observers say.
Stewart, who technically abdicated her chairman and chief executive titles following her 2003 indictment in a stock scandal, never relinquished her position as corporate overlord. In addition, she now has a new title as leader of the "Death Donnas," an interracial gang which has an estimated national membership of 3,000. As she resumes work this week after serving five months in a West Virginia prison for her felony conviction, she is arranging meetings between the regional gang lieutenants and her vice presidents.
"Well, the prison organization was already in place, but needless to say it lacked focus and direction until I took it over," Stewart told stunned employees in a welcome-back speech on Monday. "The Death Donnas have a proud legacy of efficiency and strength, and I am confident they will make a valued addition to our team."
Stewart's multimedia empire is known for its ruthless stranglehold on the lucrative world of homemaking, crafts, gardening and cooking. Since her formal annexation of Connecticut in 1992, she has ruled with an iron fist from a fortified, but exquisitely appointed, bunker in Westport. However, her weapons have traditionally been those of subtle sophistication and boardroom malfeasance.
"You know, her usual weapons were social innuendo and fruit baskets, but occasionally she did send an assassin after someone," said Christopher Byron, author of the unauthorized biography Martha Inc. "She keeps a few world-class people on retainer for just such an occasion. But now she's got a virtual street-level militia too. I'm not sure how everyone's going to get along."
Indeed, work relationships may be tested. Susan Lyne, who took over as president at Martha's company last November, is reportedly "adjusting" to her new office-mate, a 250-pound ex-con known only as "Sherry the Shanker."
"Sherry does not really appreciate the niceties of office politics yet," said Lyne. "For instance, she brought in some coffee today which was not ground from pure Arabica beans. There will be an education process, I think."
Indeed, despite initial expectations that the gang members would intimidate Martha's corporate minions, the reverse seems to be the case.
"They scare me," whispered Barbara "Break-neck" Schiavo, looking nervously over her shoulder. "Especially the chefs. You be sure and say something nice about those canapés, got it? It's for your own good."