Martha Stewart

House-Bound

UPDATED 03/14/2005 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 03/14/2005 at 01:00 AM EST

Think the Oscar afterparties were a tough ticket? Try getting into the Martha After-Jail party. "Her assistant is getting calls from people asking where it's going to be," says someone close to Stewart, who is expected to be released from Alderson Federal Prison Camp on March 4. "Some people are wondering if they are being excluded."

Not to worry. There likely won't be much merriment now that Stewart's five months in jail for conspiracy and obstruction of justice are over. "There is no plan," Stewart told a friend who visited her before her release. "I just have to get back to work and get moved into my house." Stewart still faces five months of home confinement at her newly renovated Bedford, N.Y., estate. After her release she'll have 72 hours to report to a probation officer, who will fit her with a l-in.-thick, black plastic-and-rubber electronic monitoring anklet. Stewart can leave the house to work 48 hours a week; otherwise her movements are severely curtailed.

"The first week you're home, it's lovely," says National Prison and Sentencing Consultants founder John B. Webster, who submitted to house arrest for lying to the FBI. "But after a week it hits you:'I'm still not free.' "

At least Stewart can get started on a range of projects: a reality series with Mark Burnett, a daytime talk show and, of course, her memoir. "I've got so much to think about," Stewart told her friend—and that includes a March 17 appeal of her case that she hopes will clear her name and end her house arrest. Pending that appeal, Stewart will probably lie low. Her lawyers, says the friend, "don't want her out dancing on tabletops at Balthazar."

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