Food Network won’t renew Paula Deen’s contract
FILE - This Jan. 17, 2012 file photo shows celebrity chef Paula Deen posing for a portrait in New York. It was revealed that Deen admitted during questioning in a lawsuit that she had slurred blacks in the past. It's the second time the queen of comfort food's mouth has gotten her into big trouble. She revealed in 2012 that for three years she hid her Type 2 diabetes while continuing to cook the calorie-laden food that's bad for people like her. (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri, File)
The Food Network said yesterday it’s dumping Paula Deen, barely an hour after the celebrity cook posted a videotaped apology online begging forgiveness from fans and critics troubled by her admission to having used racial slurs in the past.
The 66-year-old Savannah, Ga., kitchen celebrity has been swamped in controversy since court documents filed this week revealed Deen told an attorney questioning her under oath last month that she has used the N-word. “Yes, of course,” Deen said, though she added, “It’s been a very long time.”
The Food Network, which made Deen a star with Paula’s Home Cooking in 2002 and later Paula’s Best Dishes in 2008, weighed in with a terse statement yesterday afternoon.
“Food Network will not renew Paula Deen’s contract when it expires at the end of this month,” the statement said. Network representatives declined further comment.
The news came as Deen worked to repair the damage to her image. She abruptly canceled a scheduled interview on NBC’s Today show yesterday morning. Instead, Deen opted for a direct appeal via online video – one that allowed her and her staff complete control of what she said and how she said it.
“Inappropriate, hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable,” Deen said in the 45-second video posted on YouTube. “I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way but I beg you, my children, my team, my fans, my partners – I beg for your forgiveness.”
Court records show Deen sat down for a deposition May 17 in a discrimination lawsuit filed last year by a former employee who managed Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House, a Savannah, Ga., restaurant owned by Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers. The ex-employee, Lisa Jackson, said she was sexually harassed and worked in a hostile environment rife with innuendo and racial slurs.
The transcript of Deen’s questioning by an attorney for Jackson shows she was peppered with questions about her racial attitudes. At one point she’s asked if she thinks jokes using the N-word are “mean.” Deen said jokes often target minority groups and “I can’t, myself, determine what offends another person.”
Deen also acknowledged she briefly considered hiring all black waiters for her brother’s 2007 wedding, an idea inspired by the staff at a restaurant she had visited with her husband. She insisted she quickly dismissed the idea.
But she also insisted in her legal deposition that she and her brother have no tolerance for bigotry.