Hers may be the most anticipated comeback since Elvis. Martha Stewart, convicted felon, is now seeking to shed that title and reclaim her status as domestic icon.
“I think the most important thing she has to do is establish herself as a somewhat changed and warmer human being," said Hayes Roth, head of of marketing at Landor Associates, a brand consultant. "Someone who has learned from the experience and is now ready to go on with life and put all this behind her.”
Long-time friend Richard Feigen visited Stewart at the Alderson Federal Prison and says she's been, in his words, "transformed."
“I think she won't be as oblivious to what other people think,” he said.
Her magazine trumpets Stewart's release as a homecoming, but in truth, its the next phase of her sentence -- home confinement.
Stewart will be confined to the main house of her 153-acre Bedford, New York estate. She will wear an electronic tether. She can work 48 hours a week outside the house, but other than that, she can only leave to go to the doctor or dentist, religious services or grocery shopping.
And, as for the garden she talked about before entering prison, Stewart said last September that she "would like to back as early in March as possible in order to plant the new spring garden and to truly get things growing again.”
A probation official says Stewart can't leave her house even to do that, unless its part of her approved work week.
And, while her freedom will be restricted, Stewart's ambition won't be. Her to-do list includes: a daytime TV show, a prime time apprentice TV show spin-off -- both with NBC/Universal -- a new column for her magazine and appealing her conviction for lying to investigators. (MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)
Since her conviction, her company's stock has tripled. Gary McDaniel, who owns no shares, follows the stock for Standard and Poor's.
“I think the shares are being traded on hope and hype rather than a fundamental, hard hitting analysis of the potential earnings of the shares,” he said.
McDaniel has a “sell” rating on the stock, but Stewart and the company's message is “buy” -- her magazine, her products, and most of all, her new image.