Who Will Assume Domestic Diva Throne?

03/10/2004 AT 03:21 PM EST

They may not be vultures, but they are circling -- and one of them could be the next diva of domesticity, now that onetime undisputed queen of the house Martha Stewart has been convicted on charges of obstruction of justice, making false statements and conspiracy.

And so, on Wednesday's front page of The New York Times are three likely candidates to assume Martha's throne. They are: Chris Casson Madden, who's authored 16 homemaking books and in May will unleash more than 17,000 products for the home at J.C. Penney; Barbara (or B.) Smith, a restaurateur who for a long time already has been called the African-American Martha Stewart; and A&E decorating-show host and author Katie Brown.

The Times says that Smith and Brown have both been besieged by TV networks, investors, furniture firms and Hollywood scouts in the wake of Stewart's convictions last Friday.

"My phone's been ringing off the hook," says Brown. "Branding, branching out -- how can we bank on my name. Everyone's trying to second-guess what will happen next, and how to capitalize on it."

Only don't kiss Martha goodbye so fast. New York's Daily News suggests that the disgraced diva could skip jail time when she's sentenced on June 17 should she be able to argue successfully that her removal from her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., would end the jobs of 550 innocent people: her employees. First, however, Stewart must convince the board of directors of her company to keep her onboard. (Omnimedia's stock fell again on Tuesday, closing at $9.55, down 35 cents -- and a 32 percent drop since Friday's verdict was announced.)

Meanwhile, Stewart's younger brother, Frank Kostyra is speaking out on behalf of his sister -- from whom he had been estranged for five years. Finally seeing her again on Monday, after Stewart's humiliating interview with a probation officer, a now-supportive Kostyra tells the New York Post: "I could see the horrible agony and heartache in her eyes and face ... I wanted to hug her right there in the courthouse -- and tell her how much I love her -- but it wasn't appropriate."

Finally, on another relative note, gossip columnist Liz Smith has her own suggestion as to how Martha can retain control of her company, or at least keep it in the family: Use her daughter's name and call it Alexis Stewart Living.

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