San Francisco Man Takes Martha's Job

06/09/2003 at 01:50 AM EDT

Jeffrey Ubben of San Francisco has been named chairman of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, according to Bay Area station KCBS.

Ubben, who is managing partner of a company called ValueAct Capital, reportedly owns more than 4 million shares of Stewart stock, second only to Martha herself.

Last Wednesday -- only hours after she was indicted on charges of lying to federal investigators who were probing her sale of shares in the biotech company ImClone -- the domestic diva, 61, resigned as chairman and CEO of the company that bears her name. (Stewart retains the honorary title of chief creative officer.)

Stewart has been indicted on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, making false statements and securities fraud. She pleaded not guilty and was released on her own recognizance.

In an ad published as an open letter in Thursday's editions of USA Today (as well as on the marthtalks.com Web site), Stewart restated her innocence and asked for fans to send messages of support.

"I simply returned a call from my stockbroker," Stewart wrote in the letter. "The government's attempt to criminalize these actions makes no sense to me."

According to Stewart's Web site on Friday, her e-mea culpa received 2 million hits within the first 24 hours of its posting, and she got 20,000 e-mailed "messages of support and encouragement. ... I am grateful for the goodwill that so many friends and supporters have shown me by visiting these Web pages."

She also promised to try to read every message.

Meanwhile, in Monday's New York Times, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia ran its own full-page ad in the form of an open letter "to Our Valued Readers, Viewers, Customers and Partners." The company said that the public "can continue to count on our team of nearly 600 expert cooks, gardeners, craftspeople, designers, decorators, stylists, producers, editors, art directors, technologists and businesspeople, to inform and inspire, and to celebrate and elevate all aspects of home and the domestic arts."

In a later paragraph, the ad states, "As ever, Martha's vision and energy will continue to be central to the efforts of our creative team in realizing our company's mission."

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