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Food Network won't renew Paula Deen's contract

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 12:06 p.m. HST, Jun 21, 2013

SAVANNAH, Ga. » The Food Network said today 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 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 Home Cooking" in 2008, weighed in with a terse statement this 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 this 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."

The online video allowed Deen and her staff a direct appeal to viewers and complete control of what she said and how she said it. Deen adopted a solemn tone as she looked straight into the camera. Still, her recorded apology featured three obvious edits — with the picture quickly fading out between splices — during a statement just five sentences long.

"I want to apologize to everybody, uh, for the wrong that I've done," Deen says as the video begins. "Uh, I want to learn and grow from this."

Deen initially planned to give her first interview on the controversy this morning to the "Today" show, which promoted her scheduled appearance as a live exclusive. Instead, host Matt Lauer ended up telling viewers that Deen's representatives pulled the plug because she was exhausted after her flight to New York.

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 restaurant owned by Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers. The ex-employee, Lisa Jackson, says she was sexually harassed and worked in a hostile environment rife with innuendo and racial slurs.

The transcript of Deen's questioned 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 says jokes often target minority groups and "I can't, myself, determine what offends another person."

Deen also acknowledges 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.

"Bubba and I, neither one of us, care what the color of your skin is" or what gender a person is, Deen said. "It's what's in your heart and in your head that matters to us."

AP Television Writer David Bauder contributed to this story from New York.

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busterb wrote:
Geez, now we have to be PC in the past too. I am so sorry I called Sally a poo poo head in 2nd grade. And Billy really isn't a boogie eater. I understand what the whole thing is about, but those were different times and when the Governor of your State is calling folks nasty names, maybe that's how you learned it when you grew up...
on June 21,2013 | 11:06AM
primo1 wrote:
You can't change what you are, no matter how much you sugar coat it and fry it in bacon fat...
on June 21,2013 | 12:13PM
likewise wrote:
I wonder if they are going to pull her shows. Right now you can't turn on Food Network without tripping over a Deen product. Anthony Bourdain must be laughing his rear end off.
on June 21,2013 | 12:47PM
mitt_grund wrote:
Yup. Bourdain considered her a hypocrite for her promotion of high calorie recipes, despite her up-to-then secret diabetes. This one must have him rolling in hominy and grits.
on June 21,2013 | 06:22PM
scooters wrote:
Dam, no more good old down home country cooking..
on June 21,2013 | 01:07PM
kolohepalu wrote:
She is just being honest. If they gave a truth serum, 80% of white southerners over the age of 30 have used that word in the last week, most in reference to our president. Seriously.
on June 21,2013 | 02:14PM
Bdpapa wrote:
I like her. She was honest in her answer and now people want to crucify her. Racial slurs are tossed around daily especially here in Hawaii. Some are friendly words others are not. This is way over blown. I wish her well.
on June 21,2013 | 03:43PM
hawaiikone wrote:
In the words of Shakespeare, "much ado about nothing",
on June 21,2013 | 04:04PM
konag43 wrote:
it amazes me how other nationalites get pounded for using the n word but nothing happenes to the blacks that use the words hunky. not to memetion that black people call each other the n word on occasions but feel, offened when other people use it. i have no problem with paula deen and see no sense in cancelling a good show. it people don't want to watch it look at something else because i myself would not stop watching her just because she used the n word. it just depeneds how she used the word. right on kolohepalu.
on June 21,2013 | 03:45PM
Ptr92 wrote:
I knew it! Haaaaa! I hated her show anyway....
on June 21,2013 | 04:12PM
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