Serving Her Daytime

With her monitoring bracelet on one ankle and a microphone transmitter on the other, Martha Stewart met the press yesterday on the New York set of her new daytime show to talk up her upcoming TV projects -- "Martha" and "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart."

"I'm well balanced today," Stewart said, referring to her ankle apparel. Not for long: Wednesday at midnight the domestic diva will be free of the monitoring bracelet she got in March on release from a West Virginia prison.

Stewart gushed about her new daytime show studio, especially the little tables interspersed throughout the audience, reports the Post's John Maynard. "I thought, what a great opportunity for the audience to place their favorite articles," she said. "On plant day, they'll be putting their favorite houseplant on that little table or their favorite dog or quilt or whatever they bring." Dog?

As for "The Apprentice," Stewart said viewers can expect a gentler version of Trump's show. "The look is different," she said. "It may be lighter. I don't work at night. Donald likes to work at night. I don't want to keep my employees burning the midnight oil if they have homes to go to."

Stewart did not reveal the catchphrase she'll administer to "Apprentice" contestants being dumped. "What makes you think there is a slogan?" she teased one reporter. Puh-lease.

"Martha" debuts Sept. 12 -- locally on WJLA, Channel 7, at 10 a.m. -- and "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart," premieres on NBC Sept. 21.

A Disappearing Act?

Olivia Newton-John's missing boyfriend has a storied past that has prompted speculation he might have staged his disappearance.

According to court documents, Patrick Kim McDermott filed for bankruptcy in 2000 while owing $31,000 to creditors. Also, he was taken to court last spring by his ex-wife, actress Yvette Nipar, who said his $800-a-month child support payments for their 13-year-old son were overdue.

Nipar reported her ex missing in early July, nearly a week after the 48-year-old McDermott was last seen on a fishing trip off California. Earlier this week Newton-John spoke to the media about the disappearance and said she waited to come forward out of respect for his family.

A Coast Guard rep said the organization is looking into all possibilities, including that McDermott might have staged his disappearance.

Ventriloquist Loses Right-Hand Man

Where's Woody? That's the question comedian and ventriloquist Willie Brown is asking after he arrived in Los Angeles on a flight from Dulles without his dummy, Woody, which (who?) was lost or stolen somewhere in transit. After a gig in Annandale, Brown and Woody were returning to L.A. to film the season finale of the new Showtime comedy series "Barbershop," reports the Post's Hamil Harris. Brown plays a homeless Gulf War vet and Woody plays a street evangelist.

"I am distraught," Brown said. "I am hurt. Losing Woody is like losing your child. He is my livelihood. We have been together for years."

Brown had checked Woody as baggage on United Flight 95 on Aug. 16 "because it was a direct flight and I wasn't feeling well."

When he went through security, one worker recognized him and joked about Woody. But at Los Angeles International Airport, the dummy never made it to baggage claim. "He never showed up. I waited for two hours in the baggage area. They just told me to file a claim," he said. "This was the biggest break in my life. We were filming the season finale of 'Barbershop' and this happened." The show must go on: A substitute dummy got its chance at stardom.

-- Compiled by Korin Miller

from staff and wire reports

Martha Stewart's electronic monitoring bracelet will come off Wednesday.Olivia Newton-John's boyfriend, Patrick McDermott, was reported missing in July.