Food Network 'will not renew Paula Deen's contract'
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Food Network has issued a statement saying it will not renew the contract for Paula Deen, who has been embroiled in controversy over the last several days after she admitted to using racial slurs in the past and failed to show up for a scheduled interview on TODAY Friday.
“Food Network will not renew Paula Deen's contract when it expires at the end of this month,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
In a statement to TODAY, Deen responded, saying, "I would like to thank The Food Network for 11 great years. Because of the gift The Food Network gave me, I have had the pleasure of being allowed into so many homes across the country and meeting people who have shared with me the most touching and personal stories."
The firing came after Deen posted three short apology videos on YouTube.
The first was a 46-second video posted Friday afternoon, in which she offered up an apology for using "inappropriate, hurtful language." In a second video, Deen apologized for failing to show up for a scheduled interview with Matt Lauer on TODAY Friday to discuss her admission. The third was a similar, shorter version apologizing to Lauer.
"I was invited this morning to speak with Matt Lauer about a subject that has been very hurtful for a lot of people," she said in the second video. "And Matt, I have to say, I was physically not able this morning. The pain has been tremendous that I have caused to myself and to others, and so I’ve taken this opportunity now that I’ve pulled myself together and am able to speak to offer an apology to those that I have hurt."
She added that, "I’ve made mistakes, but that is no excuse. Your color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference does not matter to me. But it’s what in the heart."
The second apology came nearly an hour after the first clip was removed from YouTube. In that heavily edited clip, she said, “I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I’ve done, and I want to learn and grow from this. Inappropriate, hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable. 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. Please forgive me for the mistakes that I’ve made.”
Deen, 66, has been mired in scandal after details emerged from a May 17 deposition in which she admitted using racial slurs, particularly the N-word, and was a no-show for an interview with Matt Lauer on TODAY Friday.
“We had arranged to do an interview with Paula Deen, it had been going on, the discussions about that interview, throughout the day yesterday with her people,” Lauer said in the show’s opening. “I spoke to her late afternoon on the phone yesterday and we talked about the fact that it would be an open and candid discussion, no holds barred.” Later, Lauer added, “She told me at one point… ‘I don’t know how to be anything but honest.’”
“And this morning, although we have not spoken to her — she has not called us — her publicity people have told us she’s exhausted and will not be showing up,” Lauer explained.
A lawsuit filed last year against her and her brother Bubba Hiers by Lisa Jackson, a former manager of a restaurant owned by the siblings, alleged that employees there faced a hostile work environment. Deen and Hiers deny wrongdoing, according to court records.
Jackson alleged that while Deen was planning her brother’s 2007 wedding, she said of the waitstaff, “Well what I would really like is a bunch of little [N-words] to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties...now that would be a true Southern wedding, wouldn't it?"
According to the transcript of the deposition, filed Monday in U.S. District Court, Deen denied using the N-word in that instance, but acknowledged that she had used it in other cases, such as when she was held up at gunpoint in the 1980s and later used the word to describe the robber to her husband.
"But that's just not a word that we use as time has gone on," Deen said. "Things have changed since the '60s in the South. And my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior. As well as I do."
Immediately after Food Network's announcement, fans' reaction on the channel's Facebook page was heavily in favor of Deen, with some calling for a boycott, while a few others supported Food Network's decision.
This isn’t the first controversy Deen has dealt with. In 2012, the Southern star revealed to TODAY that she had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes three years earlier, while simultaneously announcing that she had an endorsement deal with Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company that makes her diabetes medication — all while continuing to promote her brand of rich comfort cooking.
As a result, she faced serious backlash from the public as well as criticism from other celebrity chefs, most notably Anthony Bourdain, who summed up the sentiment tweeting, “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later."
This story was originally published at 10:06 a.m. ET.on June 21.