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Shepherd Herding Her Career into the Chasm with "Martha Inc."
by Andrew Ritchie

Cybill Shepherd must be desperate indeed if she's playing Martha Stewart in a low-budget television movie of the week. Shepherd has been playing the good Samaritan lately, raising awareness about women's health issues like menopause and breast cancer, but has not been seen on screen since CBS cancelled her self-titled television show in 1998.

Choosing to play Martha Stewart as her comeback is a mistake she won't soon live down, no matter how well she portrays her.

First of all, playing a real-life character as complex as Martha Stewart is likely out of Shepherd's depth as an actress, whose most notable contribution to entertainment was her starring comedic role on the hit '80s series Moonlighting. Imagining Cybill Shepherd whipping up a bowl of cream in an ultra-organized kitchen while narrating recipe instructions is, at best, a challenge. She also looks nothing like Martha. Viewers may find her performance distracting rather than believable, verging on parody.

Secondly, there is the issue of Byron's credibility as a biographer. Basing a film on an unflattering and unauthorized biography is never a wise decision. Remember that TV movie about Madonna that was based on an unauthorized biography, starring some unknown actress? Neither do I. It met with horrendous reviews and was quickly swept under the rug for permanent exile. Such is the destiny of ill-fated TV movies based on tabloid biographies - they are ripped to shreds by the critics and never again see the light of day. The credibility of the television executives who sponsored the production of "Martha Inc." are put into question here, as is Cybill Shepherd's reputation as a serious actress.

If we look at it from another angle, it's probably encouraging to fans of Martha Stewart that the film is going to be a low-budget production starring a television actress who hasn't been in the scene for years. It would be more worrisome if the film was to be a major motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Meryl Streep as the lead.

In the end, the cheap production and poor acting will probably do Byron's "Martha Inc." justice, bringing all of its biographical drivel to light right before our eyes. I am confident that critics will be appropriately merciless and that audiences will be intelligent enough to change the channel the moment they hear Cybill Shepherd say, "It's a good thing," because, frankly, it's not.

Who should play the key roles? Vote Now

Also, visit The Pantry each month for a closer look at the cover subject of Martha Stewart Living Magazine with insightful articles that broaden the scope of the cover topic, written by Andrew Ritchie

Comments? Write to Andrew

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