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Hallmark Channel Adds Martha Stewart to Daytime

Homemaking maven Martha Stewart will join Hallmark Channel's daytime lineup in a big way come fall.

Hallmark Channel has struck a multiyear partnership with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. that will yield a host of programming on the family friendly network, including 4.5 hours of weekday fare, as well as primetime specials.

Topping the list: original episodes of the daytime series The Martha Stewart Show, which will kick off a two-and-half-hour block of original Martha Stewart fare at 10 a.m. Other MSLO programming, currently in development and likely to include a talk show, will follow from 11 a.m. through 12:30 p.m.

The Martha Stewart Show will encore later that day at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Now in its fifth season of syndication via NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution, Martha Stewart has seen its audience to decline to some 1 million daily watchers.

MSLO — whose portfolio currently comprises Everyday Food, Whatever, Martha!, Essence of Emeril, Emeril Live and Emeril Green, as well as the celebrity chef's new weekly series The Emeril Lagasse Show (picked up by Ion Television and set for a March 28 debut) — will also develop primetime holiday and interview specials for Hallmark Channel.

The daytime additions represent the latest move by Hallmark Channel in its evolution into a lifestyle network that celebrates the seasons and holidays. While it will continue to emphasize telefilms — 22 are being produced this year, with another two in production for sister service Hallmark Movie Channel — the MLSO deal will lessen the channel's reliance on off-network series. Hallmark Channel also wants to develop its first original unscripted series.

A network spokeswoman declined to discuss if Whatever, Martha — featuring Stewart's daughter Alexis in a parody of all things related to her mother — is being considered for a daytime slot. The show is on Fine Living, but Scripps Networks Interactive is set to convert that service into Cooking Channel later this year.

A high-definition version of Hallmark Channel is set to launch on Feb. 1. Hallmark Movie Channel HD is already available.