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Martha Bitchslaps Rachael Over Barry

11/2/2006 4:36 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Martha Stewart threw rival talk-show diva Rachael Ray into her wicker-and-jute ring this morning, and, in her inimitably patrician way, gave her a verbal smackdown for daring to air her show with Barry Manilow at exactly the same time Her Martha-ness did.

At 10 am in New York, both Martha (on NBC) and Rachael's (on ABC) shows featured the ageless crooner Manilow as a musical guest, and Martha was none too pleased. "I've never actually met Rachael Ray," said Martha during her opening monologue, with a rather unmistakable chortle. "I think she's very fun...lively...uh...young woman," continued the domestic queen, racking her brain for adjectival possibilities. "She has Barry on her show today ... Now that's kinda weird."

Martha went on to claim that Rachael had originally scheduled the Manilow show for tomorrow, but for some reason moved up his appearance to today, and then wagged a stern verbal finger in Ray's face, saying, "I don't know ... I think it's not ... great for the artist." Stewart also pointed out that her show was a live broadcast, and show producers flashed the fact that the show was live several times on-air.

A rep for Rachael Ray tells TMZ, "Barry was a fantastic guest, and we wanted to lead our sweeps with the best show we had in the can, and that was Barry Manilow." A call to Martha's rep wasn't immediately returned.

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