NEW YORK -- Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., still reeling from the legal woes of its founder, has named board member and former ABC entertainment president Susan Lyne as its new chief executive and president, replacing Sharon Patrick, a chief architect of the company.
Lyne, who has served as a director of Martha Stewart Living since June 2004, has had a 25-year career in creative and business positions in the television, publishing, and film industries.
"For personal and professional reasons I have decided to leave MSO and pursue other dreams, turning over the leadership of the company to others," Patrick said yesterday in a statement.
Patrick oversaw the buyback of Time Inc.'s magazine and media interests to form Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia with Stewart.
She also helped craft a partnership with discounter Kmart as its exclusive mass merchandise retailer.
The management shake-up comes at a time when the New York-based multimedia company is still stumbling from the conviction of its namesake founder and former chairman and CEO of lying to investigators about her sale of ImClone Systems Inc. shares. Stewart is now serving a five-month prison sentence that began Oct. 8, to be followed by five months of house arrest.
Patrick could not be reached for comment, but industry sources believe that her close relationship with Stewart could have harmed her. "She didn't do anything wrong, but her knowledge of Stewart personally could have put her in a position of presumed compromise," said Richard Hastings, a retail analyst at the Bernard Sands credit advisory firm.
Lyne most recently was president of ABC Entertainment from January 2002 to May 2004 and had held various executive positions at the network since 1998. She was ousted from ABC after several years of disappointing ratings in prime-time. Before joining ABC, Lyne was executive vice president of Walt Disney Pictures and Television Inc.
Lyne said Stewart was informed of the appointment, which was made by the board.