News, Mar. 15: Martha Stewart Resigns, Presley “Saw Things” During Marriage to Jackson, Diana Ross Claims Diary Proves She’s Served Time, More…

Top Story: Stewart Resigns Chief Post

A week or so after being convicted of obstructing justice in her shady stock trading case, Martha Stewart has resigned as director and chief creative officer of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., Reuters reports. The New York-based media and merchandising company said Stewart will remain with the company in the new post of founding editorial director, and will report to Sharon Patrick, Stewart‘s successor as chief creative officer. The company has suffered from a considerable loss in business, with its stock down dramatically, advertisers fleeing from her flagship magazine and the cancellation of her TV show on many stations. Martha Stewart Living said in a statement that Stewart will continue to provide “creative inspiration” for new products and would author two pending books on keeping house and baking. It also said she would provide input on “the continuing evolution” of the company’s brand name and on strategic issues.

Presley “Saw Things” During Marriage to Jackson

Why did she do it? The Associated Press reports Lisa Marie Presley told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s talk show Enough Rope recently that she “saw things she could do nothing about” during her brief marriage to Michael Jackson, who is facing child molestation charges, but refused to elaborate. Presley said she felt “powerless in a lot of ways, in terms of … realizing that I was part of a machine, and seeing things going on that I couldn’t do anything about. And don’t ask me what sort of things, because I’m not going to answer. But just stuff.” Presley, who is in Australia promoting her own singing career, was married to the pop star from 1994 to 1996. Asked how she felt about Jackson now, Presley replied: “It’s really bizarre, I feel nothing.”

Ross’s Time Is Documented–in Her Diary, At Least

Although an Arizona court is ordering her to return to serve jail time, singer Diana Ross claims she has already fulfilled the state requirement to spend 24 consecutive hours in jail on her drunken driving sentence, AP reports. “I think we actually have proof from her,” Jim Nesci, an attorney for Ross, told AP. “She documented it in her diary.” Tucson City Court Magistrate T. Jay Cranshaw found that Ross failed to serve 24 consecutive hours as required by Arizona law, but instead spent 47 hours in the custody of Greenwich police over a three-day span-with her longest stay from 8 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next day, 22 hours. Cranshaw has ordered Ross to return to Tucson “to serve 48 consecutive hours in the Pima County Jail” and has scheduled an April 1 court hearing on her sentence, AP reports.

Britney Stinking Up the Place

Cosmetics giant Elizabeth Arden Inc. has signed a deal with Britney Spears to develop her own fragrance, Reuters reports. Under the licensing deal announced Friday, the 22-year-old pop princess will develop and market her own line of fragrance, skincare and color cosmetics. The company will launch the fragrance first, in high-end department stores this fall. “[Spears] is a talented, fashionable woman who appeals to a young and international consumer base.” Paul West, president of Elizabeth Arden, said in a statement. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Apprentice Hopefuls Line Up

Now gearing up for its second season, hundreds of applicants showed up outside NBC’s Burbank, Calif., studios Saturday in hopes to land a spot on the hit reality show The Apprentice, AP reports, a show in which billionaire Donald Trump chooses only one person at the end to join his staff. More than a dozen casting calls will take place in cities including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Miami and San Francisco.

Rooney Thinks He Knows Who’s “Wacko”

60 Minutes staple Andy Rooney got a flood of mail in response to his on-air commentary Feb. 22, in which he called The Passion of the Christ director Mel Gibson a “wacko,” AP reports. It’s the biggest viewer response ever to a segment on the CBS newsmagazine, which has been on the air since 1968, a spokesman told AP. “I think the mail was a good indication of how bitterly divided our country is right now,” Rooney said on his Sunday 60 Minutes commentary. “I hope I’m not contributing to that–even though I’m right and everyone else is wrong.”

Role Call: Broderick, Parker Chew on Candy; Swayze Wants To Dance; Hawke, Fishburne Go on the Assault

Real-life marrieds Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker are joining forces for the first time on Strangers With Candy, a big-screen treatment of the hit Comedy Central show, which starred Amy Sedaris. The show, which aired for three seasons on Comedy Central, starred Sedaris as a frumpy and unattractive outcast who returns to high school after 30 years of hard living on the streets and in prison. According to the Hollywood Reporter, it was unclear which roles Broderick and Parker would play…Patrick Swayze and his wife, Lisa Niemi, are finally bringing their pet project One Last Dance to the big screen. The trade paper reports the couple is set to star and produce the film based on the award-winning play they created in the mid-1980s. It finds the two as former stars of a New York dance company who are brought back together in hopes of saving the company after the death of its artistic director…Ethan Hawke and Laurence Fishburne are set to star in Assault on Precinct 13, a remake of the 1976 John Carpenter film. According to the Reporter, the film is set on New Year’s Eve, in which a mobster (Fishburne) is temporarily incarcerated at a soon-to-be-closed down police station. As a rogue gang tries to free him, a cop (Hawke) must command a crew of policemen and prisoners to defend the station. The film will also star Gabriel Byrne and