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Martha Stewart wants to take Barbara Walters's place as next important interviewer

By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, September 2, 2010; C06

Martha Stewart, whose talk/crafts show is moving to cable's Hallmark Channel in two weeks, coinciding with the launch of her prime-time interview specials for that network, wants to become the new Important Interviewer in the television firmament.

"My favorite interviewers are Larry King [and] Barbara Walters, both of whom are kind of retiring," Stewart said in a conference call Wednesday.

This will be news to Barbara Walters, who recently confirmed she will be back on "The View" starting next week.

Anyway, with both of these TV icons out of the picture in Stewart's mind, she sees herself as their perfect replacement.

"Who's going to take their place as the serious, great interviewer? I'm throwing my name in there," Martha told reporters on a call to talk about the return of "The Martha Stewart Show," which premieres Sept. 13 on the Hallmark Channel.

Martha's first prime-time interview special, "Martha Stewart Presents: The Women Who Dress America," will debut Sept. 19; she will interview Diane Von Furstenberg and Donna Karan, among others.

In her chat with reporters, Martha mulled other ideas for specials:

"The hottest, sexiest, young male movie stars -- like, who are they really, how do they live, how do they cope?" Martha pondered.

One reporter wondered whether, following in the footsteps of King and Babs, she would also interview politicos.

"I would love to interview the first lady. . . . I consider her political," Stewart gushed. "I would love to interview Hilary Clinton, and of course, she is political, being our secretary of state."

"I would love to interview Nancy Pelosi in detail," Martha continued. "I think she's a phenomenal woman, I mean, look what she's done . . . and how absolutely gorgeous she is, too. But yes . . . I'm involved as much as anyone in the political future of this country and hoping that we get ourselves on track, as the president announced yesterday in his State of the Union speech."

[crickets]

Conan free to use name

Conan O'Brien appears to have cleared the name "Conan" with Conan the Barbarian, and is free to use it as the name of his new TBS late-night show debuting in November.

He broke the news in a YouTube video titled "An Important Message from Conan O'Brien."

" 'Conan.' Simple. Pure. Like the man himself," Conan said in the video, which looks as though it had been given 20 seconds' thought before shooting, if that.

One day earlier, Conan had tweeted: "I was going to announce the name of my new show today, but my lawyers tell me 'The Return of Nanny McPhee' is taken. Tune in tomorrow."

Trade paper Hollywood Reporter had reported that the trademark on "Conan" for "entertainment" purposes was owned by a company called Conan Properties International, which for decades had used it in connection with the Conan the Barbarian films.

No time for 'Idol'

Fox has picked up a half-hour sketch comedy series from Jamie Foxx, for which we are grateful, because it means he definitely will not have time to become one of the judges on "American Idol" if Steven Tyler, J-Lo, backup player Kara DioGuardi or any of the other nominees falls through.

Foxx, winner of Worst "Idol" Mentor Ever for two consecutive seasons, had been asked back for a second at-bat this past season because, some news reports said, he was under consideration to replace Simon Cowell as the show's Alpha Judge.

Foxx didn't so much coach the Idolettes as create camera angles for himself as he acted out scenes from his new movie, "Jamie Foxx: The Return of the 'American Idol' Mentor." That involved getting right up in an Idolette's face to throw him off balance, explaining it is an authentic movie-director technique he learned from Michael Mann, who directed him in "Miami Vice," "Collateral" and "Ali."

"Once I'm that close to you, what are you gonna do?" Foxx explained -- the answer "crack under the pressure of being so close to an actual movie star" oozing from his pores.

The prez's ratings

More than 29 million people tuned in Tuesday night at 8 to watch President Obama's live address, declaring the end of the American combat mission in Iraq, on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, CNN, CNBC, BET digital channel Centric, Fox News Channel and MSNBC.

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