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Paula Deen splits with long-time agent after racial slur controversy

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By Eun Kyung Kim

Paula Deen has cut ties with the agent who helped launch her massive celebrity chef enterprise after her recent admission of using racial slurs in the past launched a chain reaction of controversy.

Deen thanked New York agent Barry Weiner for his work but gave no reason for her decision in a statement released by her spokeswoman.

“Paula Deen has separated from her agent," said her representative, Elana Weiss. "She and her family thank him for the tireless effort and dedication over the many years. Paula wishes him well in all future endeavors.”

The split follows a rocky few weeks in which a dozen companies severed their ties with Deen following her admitted past use of a racial epithet. The admission stems from a deposition related to a lawsuit filed against Deen from a former employee who claims she was sexually harassed and had worked in an environment rife with discrimination.

The loss of sponsorships continued even after Deen offered a series of video apologies and a TODAY appearance to address the controversy.

Deen had worked with Weiner for more than a decade and has credited him for getting her show “Paula’s Home Cooking” on the Food Network in 2002 and turning her into a Southern comfort food queen. Prior to that period, her celebrity has limited to those who knew her as a single parent running a popular restaurant in Savannah, Ga.

"Barry is affectionately known in my family as Barry Cuda. Perfect name for an agent,” Deen noted in her book, “Paula Deen: It Ain’t All About the Cookin.’”

Deen recently hired crisis manager Judy Smith to help salvage her brand. Smith is the inspiration for the Kerry Washington character on the TV show “Scandal."