E! announces new homemaking hero

The new Martha Stewart is a real drag. Drag queen, that is.

The cable network E! Style has signed Brini Maxwell, a blissfully retro TV homemaker who has been dispensing Betty Crocker-era lifestyle tips for years on a show seen on Manhattan Neighborhood Network.

Starting in September, "The Brini Maxwell Show" will air weeknights at 7 on E! Style, which is available on Sunflower Broadband Digital Cable Channel 125.

Maxwell is really Ben Sander, a performer in his mid-30s who has been taping his weekly show out of his Manhattan apartment, designed in brightly colored '60s decor.

His mother served as director of the homemade homemaking series, which has aired on MNN since 1998.

One night in January, Amy Briamonte, a producer with Termite Art Productions, caught the program and brought it to the attention of E! Style executives, who were looking for new shows.

Heather Moran, vice president of programming for the channel, was sold. She believes Brini Maxwell will be America's next domestic goddess.

"Brini is such a classic character," Moran said. "She is a traditional girl with traditional ideals."

Except that she's a he.

"It's totally beside the point," Moran said. "Everything she does is done with a wink and a smile, and that's part of her charm."

Moran also noted that Maxwell "has a better shoe collection than I have."

E! Style has moved "The Brini Maxwell Show" out of Sander's apartment and into a Manhattan TV studio.

But Brini will still be giving viewers tips on preparing food to take on an airplane or making your home cozy on a snowy day.

"It will be a classic service show about how to make your life more fabulous," Moran said. "But it has that Brini retro twist."

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