Martha Stewart, Death, and Taxes

Martha Stewart, Death, and Taxes

Posted on 04. May, 2008 by in death and taxes, jess bachman, video

On April 15th, Tax Day, I, Jess Bachman, appeared on the Martha Stewart Show.

It was an odd segment for her show which typically deals with crafts, gardening and cooking. Indeed I was in between Elizabeth Vargas who was cooking prosciutto and peas, and eco-friendly gardening. The experience was great in which I detail below, but without further ado, here is the video.

Here is how the whole affair came about.

I received an email several months ago from a producer who thought the poster would make some good tax day related content. I sent them a video of myself talking about the poster so they could see that I was good on camera and not some numbers obsessed loony. The segment got passed around to numerous producers until it finally landing with Geoff Rosen. Although I have to give credit to Lenore Welby who was the first to pick me up and then subsequently went on maternity leave.

Geoff and I tossed around ideas and angles over the phone and settled on a rather long script outline that consisted of Martha’s basic questions and my responses. I arranged a flight to New York City and they arranged a hotel (DoubleTree) and rides to and from the studio. I haven’t been to NYC since I was a bit younger so it was interesting to be there with some free agency, although I was stuck in mid-town with not a lot to do. I mainly rehearsed my script in my hotel room and watched a PBS documentary on some old dead literary luminary whose name i have completely forgotten.

The next morning I was up at 6 AM and at the studio at 7:30 AM. After going through security, of which there was more of than at La Guardia, I met up with Sarah Polite, an all purpose assistant who showed me to my dressing room. The room was nice and small and came with a muffin and a few bottles of water. There was a closet, desk, chair, mirror, TV to watch the live feed, and a large black and white photo of a child running with a wild look in his eyes. It was slightly disturbing.

I met up with Geoff, who looked slightly older than I, 27, even though he mentioned he had worked on the Rikki Lake show several years prior. We went over the script together and took me to makeup where they teased my hair, which I later fixed, then they teased it again. I also had bronzer and some other miscellany applied to my face and neck, all a first for me.

Back to my dressing room while I waited until Elizabeth Vargas to finish her studio rehersal. Then Geoff and I took our turns in front of the cameras and empty studio audience. I ran through the script a few times and I knew it was a bit long but Geoff assured me we could get it in on time. I also had to hold all the little graph props they had made while the cameras took bank shots. The stage manager was quite chipper and moved things along pretty quickly.

Back to my dressing room again while the 10 o’clock hour rolled around. I started to watch the live feed but it made me too nervous so I turned it off. Geoff comes in wanting to know if I knew how much the IRS spent on audits. I didn’t think that information was publically available and told him so but he said Martha really wanted to know so if I could find out that would be great. I couldn’t so they actually placed a call to the IRS and were subsequently told that that information was not publicly available.

A few minutes before our segment Geoff took me out to the studio. I had some last minute hair touch ups and attention from some guy whose sole purpose was to use a lint roller on my black sweater vest. A few members actually took my picture while I was waiting off camera, thinking I must have been photo worthy, only to be disappointed that I was indeed, the tax guy. In fact, I was the tax guy the whole time I was there as various assistant producers and Martha employees brought their tax related questions to me. “So, if I file in one state, but my main income is in another state, do I have to…”. I really focus more on the government spending side rather than the personal taxes side, but people didn’t seem to care, I was the tax guy.

Martha loves her data!

So we get back from commercial and I am sitting there with Martha ready to start the live segment. Immediately she calls me “Jeff Bachman” when my name is “Jess Bachman” so I shoot her a quick look which gets caught on camera, look for it. Then she derails the script by asking the audience questions and such so we are way behind on time for an already tight segment. Needless to say I had to leave stuff out while trying to hit my main points all the while Geoff is off to the side waving his arms in a “Hurry it up” type motion. It was fun though, I had prepared well and I thought I looked rather natual for my first time on national TV. After the segment wrapped, Martha and I had a quick chat about how much taxes she pays and such. I told her that I calculated that she herself has paid over $100,000 for the War on Terror alone, and she quipped that it was likely much more due to how the government got her a while back.

A photographer took a few photos of Martha and I, although I am not sure for what purpose, as I never received any. Thten back to my dressing room to relax and what the rest of the show. Sarah, the assistant comes in and says that Martha wants 20 posters to give out at a dinner party she was having on Friday with the mayor and other guests; she ask that I make some calls. I said “Now?”, she said “yes.” So I arraigned posters to be overnighted to NYC for her party. I hope Martha didn’t get in over her head with all the information, its a powerful tool.

After the live show wraps I am out the door and take a car back to the hotel. Catch a flight home an hour later. I am now a celeb, although people fail to recognize my new found ‘famous person walk’ in the airport. That’s ok though, I have plans to do a NYC/LA junket next year, Jon Stewart, Letterman, Leno, Oprah, Tyra, Dr Phil, Montel here I come, enlightening federal budget visualization in hand.



  1. Pingback: WallStats’ Death & Taxes Poster - Three Chances to Win! | FlowingData on February 19, 2009


  1. Cindy Goldman, July 16, 2008:

    Congratulations Jess! you are on your way!
    (I am a friend of your mom and I bought one poster for my son’s High School (Bob Pyles).

  2. Robert Fernando, November 11, 2008:


    Excellent visual representation of what is essentially a phonebook of hard data that no one EVER reads. This really makes a subject that is difficult to approach easier to comprehend.

    Too bad this isn’t in every high school and college across America. I wish there was some sort of time-line graph that showed how each category has increased or decreased over the years. Even comparing a 2004 poster to the 2009 poster is dramatic. Another idea (even though we are post election craze now) would be a what if poster with the proposed federal budget under Obama vs. McCain vs. Ron Paul. I’m not sure who would have had the biggest proposed budget but I am pretty sure who would have the smallest! Thanks again for this work of art/design/genius.

  3. yellowduc, April 15, 2009:

    nice! I appreciate mostly the clarification of how much is spent on health, and how defense spending occurs in many other places beyond the actual Dept of Defense.

    p.s. I emailed digg for ya

  4. Sidney Pase, September 21, 2011:

    I want to encourage that you continue your great work, have a nice morning!

  5. Cyrus Duffield, November 18, 2011:

    My spouse and I stumbled over here coming from a different page and thought I should check things out. I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to checking out your web page for a second time.

  6. Hester Paik, March 14, 2012:

    Hi there, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam comments? If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can suggest? I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any help is very much appreciated.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.


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