Is Paula Deen going from the kitchen to ABC's ballroom bash "Dancing With the Stars"?
A source with ties to the show confirms to TODAY.com that there has been some discussion about offering the celebrity chef a spot in the upcoming 17th season of the dance competition. In fact, there had been interest in casting Deen before her admission to using racial slurs in a deposition made headlines in June, and led to her firing from the Food Network and her publisher to drop her upcoming book.
But fans of the celeb chef shouldn't get their hopes up. A source close to the show told TODAY.com that they heard Deen had passed on the opportunity.
Her reps have not yet replied to requests for comment, and ABC does not comment on casting until the show makes its official cast announcement shortly before the new season kicks off. However, Us Weekly magazine is reporting that another source with ties to Deen said that her camp feels "the dance floor is not the appropriate forum for her."
Cheryl Burke, one of the show's pro dancers, told "Entertainment Tonight" that if she ever did come on the show, it would cast a new light on the beleaguered Deen. "I think you'd probably see a different side of her, and I think she would be a good addition to the cast. ... I think coming on something light and fun would be something good for her."
When asked about his thoughts on Deen possibly doing the show, pro Mark Ballas told TODAY.com last month that he had grown up watching the chef on Food Network and thought that she was funny.
"I know she's had some big problems in the press, but the show's always been great about picking people (from the headlines)," Ballas said. "I think what's really important is no matter who they pick, that they pick people who really want to be there, who really want to learn. When you have people like that, it's when you have the best cast. That's what makes it so fun."
Deen isn't the only celebrity with a scandal who has been invited on the show. Just in January, troubled starlet Lindsay Lohan reportedly rejected 'Dancing's' offer. Former Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong, Motley Crue rocker Tommy Lee, political talker Ann Coulter and more have turned down the ballroom bash.
More recently, FOX News' Geraldo Rivera also passed on the opportunity Monday.
"Dancing With the Stars" season 17 kicks off on Monday, Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
— Additional reporting by Ree Hines and Michael Maloney