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After a prison stint for conspiracy and obstruction of justice, the Martha Stewart basked in the afterglow of daily media handjobs. New television shows, a slow return to work, the glowing Vanity Fair spread — she kinda ruled. Yet no matter how high our heroine climbs, someone will insist on pushing her down a rung on the ladder of positive PR.

First, the city of Bedford denied Stewart a permit to build a barn for her estate/farm, thus leaving her goats homeless. Then the Post gloated about catching Stewart violating terms of her parole by roaming around a yoga studio, which earned Stewart an extra three weeks under house arrest. (As it turns out, the Post might not want to gloat so loudly: The yoga trip was work related and the pictures of her roaming about on a Kawasaki were released some time after Stewart knew her sentence would be extended. Sources say probation officers were looking into violations when Stewart revealed in Vanity Fair that she knew how to remove her electronic ankle bracelet.) And now, another one of Stewart's top executives has fled Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

Heidi Diamond, a respected cable television executive credited with engineering Stewart's recent television triumphs, has left the company after reportedly feeling that her responsibilities were undercut by reality-tv darklord Mark Burnett. Maybe the more specific problem was with Stewart's version of The Apprentice, in which the queen bee will be able to fire members of the audience. We're thinking Diamond simply isn't cruel enough to promote the crushing of hopeful housewives on national television.

Martha Mayhem [NYP]