If you’ve been paying attention, you are aware that Justin Bieber hasn’t been arrested by the police in….oh, a really long time—weeks, even months….and credit for that belongs to a person we all know and love—Martha Stewart.
Justin, a teenage crooner overwhelmed by success, had been acting like a wannabe outlaw, and Martha, a tough ex-con, took him under her wing and got him “Scared Straight.” [For those readers without access to a television set, this is the show where hardened criminals behind bars convince novice lawbreakers to reform their ways by giving them a glimpse of the frightening future that awaits inmates inside the penitentiary.]
When Comedy Central roasted Bieber a while back, such badasses as Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, Jeff Ross, Kevin Hart and Magic Johnson did their best to deflate the ego of the baby-faced singer, but Martha whacked him the hardest.
And she’s got a stint in the slammer to back her up. While Bieber has been taken into custody by police in Miami, Toronto and Los Angeles, and has an outstanding warrant in Buenos Aires, he has so far escaped incarceration. “Big Mama Martha”, on the other hand, is the Real Deal—she did five months in a federal prison for lying to SEC investigators and obstructing justice.
The still sexy septuagenarian, in black leather pants and high heels, smiled ever so sweetly at the callow heartthob and purred, “Justin, I’ve been in hard lockup and you wouldn’t last a week. You may have 60 million followers on Twitter, but the only place people will follow you in jail is to the shower.” A somber Bieber listened carefully to her words.
While she was at it, Stewart savaged others on the dais. She told Hart, “You struggled for years, then you finally got a big paycheck. What did you do? Went out and spent 150 thousand dollars on a watch. I forget the term for that—it’s not ‘African-American rich’…..It will come to me. Justin knows the word.”
Martha turned to Ludacris: “You have three kids by three different women. May I suggest pulling out sometime and finishing on some highly absorbent Martha Stewart bed linens?”
Ludacris did not looked amused. When it came his turn to speak, he pointed out that “Martha Stewart has done more jail time than all the others on this stage put together.”
Martha feigned a hurt look and mouthed, “That’s not fair”, but she didn’t take offense and run home. Jeff Ross told Conan O’Brien that at the after-party, Snoop Doggy Dog pulled out some weed “and me, him and Martha Stewart got a little stoned. I shotgunned it into her mouth.”
Madame Stewart’s mentorship of her protégé continues apace. In the new issue of Interview magazine, she asks Bieber a few questions and gets some interesting answers.
MARTY: You’re 21 and, I would say, pretty sophisticated now. You went to the Met Ball this year. How was that? Did you have a date?
JUSTY: I didn’t have a date, but it was awesome. We got to see a lot of great people.
MARTY: Do you remember who the designer of your beautiful jacket was?
JUSTY: It was Balmain. And, actually, I guess I did have a date. It wasn’t a girl; my date was Oliver [Rousteing], who’s the designer at Balmain.
MARTY: Oh, it was Olivier. I was hoping you would ask me to be your date. I would have worn my Balmain dress. (both laugh) Did you drop out of school, Justin?
JUSTY: No, I finished high school with a 4.0 GPA.[EDITOR’S NOTE: That means straight A’s. So this brain-dead-brat-who-egged-his-neighbor’s-house routine was all an act?]
MARTY: What’s your favorite mode of transportation?
JUSTY: Probably private jet. That’s the quickest and most comfortable.
MARTY: Do you have a jet?
JUSTY: I don’t own a jet, but I rent jets in my spare time.
Anyhoo, you get the drift. Just two pals, 73 and 21, shooting the breeze and polishing their brands. Justin reveals he owns a red Ferrari, a matte black Audi R8, a Range Rover, and a Mercedes Maybach. (“My dream car,” coos Mrs. Stewart.) She asks what else does he invest in, and he says “a lot of tech investments”. “Like Facebook?” He replies, ever so coolly, “A lot of different tech investments, but not a lot I can speak of because we want to kind of keep that private.”
Damn, this guy is savvier than we thought, no? Perhaps we were fooled by the tats and the shades and the Calvin Kleins. He’s done a lot of growing up right before our eyes and he’s done it fast. We’ve got to thank Martha Stewart for offering herself to him as an example of how hubris and a misstep can land a celebrity in the clink.
But she bounced back and she keeps bouncing back. Her career is a roller-coaster, just like the stock in her company. Martha Stewart has always made excellent products, delivered entertaining and informative television performances, and written helpful books—but her company just kept losing money, while she paid herself top dollar.
In a 2013 Vanity Fair article entitled “The Golden Goose Lays An Egg”, writer Suzanna Andrews laid the blame at the feet of the diva herself, a well-known control freak who has trouble trusting other people and delegating decision-making. Trumpeted VF, “At the helm of her empire, Martha Stewart seems to be steering it toward the financial rocks. Will Stewart’s grandiose behavior sink her?”
A month ago, she crashed into the proverbial iceberg. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc., at its peak worth $2 billion (Stewart’s share was worth over a billion at that time), was sold to Sequential Brands Group Inc. for $353 million.
“Martha Stewart’s new boss”, wrote the Wall Street Journal, “is Yehuda Schmidman, a 34-year-old little-known CEO who is busy building a branding empire of his own. [He also bought the clothing brands of Justin Timberlake and Jessica Simpson.] Ms. Stewart will be chief creative officer of her own brand at Sequential.”
It won’t be easy for a round-the-clock workaholic like Martha. According to WSJ, “An observant Jew, Mr. Schmidman unplugs from all email, phone calls, text messages and other forms of electronic communication once a week during the Sabbath, from sunset Friday to nightfall Saturday. Mr. Schmidman’s schedule means his colleagues have to work around him.”
Ever indomitable, ever unstoppable, Ms. Stewart moves on. [She still has her portfolio of luxury estates to comfort her, but it might be more difficult now to defray their expenses with company funds.] When in town, Martha goes out every night posing for photographers, and sleeps only four hours.
Last week she brought Yehuda Schmidman with her to a party hosted by her p.r. woman of three decades and dear friend Susan Magrino. She radiated optimism and confidence.
It would be a mistake to ever count Martha Stewart out. With Bieber on one arm and Schmidman on the other, it’s onward and upward. She’s as resilient as Scarlett O’Hara, who memorably said, “Tomorrow is another day.”