Martha Stewart to pay $50 million for Emeril Lagasse franchise of cookbooks, shows

In this photo provided by The Martha Stewart Show, Martha Stewart and celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse work in the kitchen for a full hour to prepare a New Orleans-style Thanksgiving dinner featuring seafood gumbo, roasted turkey breast and oyster dressing Anders Krusberg, The Associated Press

AP

In this photo provided by “The Martha Stewart Show,” Martha Stewart and celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse work in the kitchen for a full hour to prepare a New Orleans-style Thanksgiving dinner featuring seafood gumbo, roasted turkey breast and oyster dressing Anders Krusberg, The Associated Press

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK – Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. is bringing in a new celebrity: popular TV chef Emeril Lagasse.

The New York-based media and merchandising company founded by domesticity maven Martha Stewart announced Tuesday that it bought the rights to the Emeril Lagasse franchise of cookbooks, television shows and kitchen products for $45 million in cash and $5 million in stock at closing. The final price could rise to up to $70 million if certain benchmarks are achieved.

Martha Stewart did not acquire Emeril’s Homebase, which includes Lagasse’s 11 restaurants and corporate office.

Lagasse remains the host of the Food Network’s “Essence of Emeril,” but the Food Network channel ceased production of “Emeril Live” late last year, though it continues to air new episodes in 2008.

In a statement released Tuesday, the Food Network said, “We are happy to see that these two great brands will be combining forces and wish both of them the best. All of Emeril’s shows will remain on the network, and we also look forward to working with him on future projects.”

Martha Stewart Living said the deal will “contribute immediately to our performance,” adding $8 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. The acquired assets generated $14 million in revenue in 2007.

Martha Stewart Living expects the deal to close in the second quarter.