Picks and Pans Review: The Cult of Martha

updated 02/21/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/21/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

>The things you learn on television. For instance, until watching a recent episode of Oprah, I had no inkling about the kind of near-religious zeal that Martha Stewart, that dewy avatar of home and garden, was inspiring among many women in this country. Oprah's Chicago studio was full of self-described "Martha wannabes" and wild-eyed acolytes bubbling about "doing things the 'Martha way.' " We were even introduced to "a woman who is obsessed with everything Martha." And Oprah, who's anything but shy about offering her views, was prefacing comments with such deferential disclaimers as "Well, I'm not Martha but..." Meanwhile Stewart, our modern-day Vesta, sat on the stage, taking in all this adulation. At one point she raised the possibility of opening a string of "Martha camps." (Boy, I bet the bunk-making inspections would be strict. Martha, if nothing else, gives new meaning to the word fastidious.) It may not yet be time for Janet Reno to start monitoring the goings-on at Martha's immaculately appointed Connecticut compound, but I believe that anyone who can render Oprah awestruck on her own show...well, that's just way too much power for a single human being to have.

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