Yesterday I caught a few moments of Martha Stewart’s new afternoon chat show. You know, the new-improved Martha, all cuddly and sweet; smiling a lot and acting like she’s actually human as opposed to that automotronic-uber-Stepford-wife from before.
Really, Stewart seems to be going out of her way to be something she is not. So warm and so approachable and laughing, god yes, she laughs, a lot, on her new program. It’s a laugh that starts low and then becomes a semi-hysterical sounding chuckle. It’s very scary.
Yesterday must have been Gay Day (unofficially) on the show as Martha welcomed a young man who had a catering service in New York City and was famous for his meringue (I am not making this up) and so Martha and this colorful gentlemen (who gushed at one point, “I’ve been a fan of yours since I was ten!”) together they whipped up one of his soufflés. When the guy (who was very cute, and obviously very nervous) spilled some of his whipped egg whites and froze for a second, Martha laughed that scary fake laugh of hers and said, “Don’t worry about it”. The meringue man continued on and luckily his baked goods rose to miraculous heights when removed from the pristine stage oven.
After this little bit of reality TV, the show went into Gay Hyperdrive when Liza Minnelli came on with her “good friend”, Ben Vereen to plug a show they would be hosting this weekend for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The first thing I noticed was that Liza looks more like a drag queen doing Liza than ever. She still has that same short haircut, that thick eye makeup, those blood red lips. The next thing I noted was that Ben Vereen, while enthusiastic and still full of incredible energy, is one dim bulb … just listen to the guy talk unscripted sometime, sheesh.
While Ben was painfully describing what the hastily thrown together Broadway benefit show would include, Liza sat fidgeting and clutching and unclenching her fists (one wonders if she was having a David Gest flash-back) – I feared that she may not have had her afternoon meds (or her afternoon gin & tonic).
Then Martha whips out these pictures of Liza’s mom, Saint Judy, and asks of Liza, “Did you know your mother worked in this very studio back in 1963?”
“Doing what?” Liza asks acting like she’s shocked at the question.
“A television show, I believe”, Martha replies, a fake-cold-blood-chilling smile pasted to her lips.
“Oh of courshhhh” Liza lisps, “that’s a shwwwell picture!” (yes, Liza still has that peculiar lisp of hers that comes and goes…).
Before they go to break, Martha announces that she and her guests will be cooking crawfish. Liza goes more wide eyed than normal and Ben has a look on his face that can best be described as dull surprise.
When we come back from commercial , Martha and Liza and Ben are in the kitchen in smart white crisp aprons. A giant pot is at full boil to Ben’s left and in front of Liza is a giant mound of something squirming and moving … dear god it’s about six dozen little live crayfish. Liza is eyeing them and you just know she’s freaking out wishing for a drink and a Marlboro.
Ben seems downright grossed out by the menu and pretty much tells Martha that he’s not putting these creatures into the hot water.
The scary laugh issues forth from the hostess again.
As luck would have it, They have a finished pot of crayfish…
Liza was laughing nervously and swaying about some; she looked like she was about to pass-out: I could not bear to watch one more second of this train-wreck.
I don’t know about you, but I miss the old Martha; that cold, calculating bitch who would never suffer a celebrity unless she actually knew the person for-christ’s-sake. I know she’s still there – aching to break free again, the control-freak Martha with that quiet authoritative voice…sometimes, new and improved does not mean better.