UPDATE: Paula Deen’s statement today: “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 Food Network told Deadline just now that it would not renew Paula Deen’s contract when it expires at the end of June. The announcement came following the popular Southern comfort food cook’s no-show for an interview on The Today Show and release of a pair of videos apologizing for her use of racial slurs — including the N-word — stemming from a 2012 discrimination lawsuit and specifically a May 17th deposition filed Monday in U.S. District Court. This follows another Deen controversy when she revealed in 2012 that her high-sugar, high-fat, high-calorie cooking had caused her to become a Type 2 diabetic — and then immediately began hawking drugs for the disease in profitable endorsement deals. But that backlash was nothing compared to the public outrage over this latest scandal. The Food Network did issue a statement on the matter early on, saying the channel “does not tolerate any form of discrimination and is a strong proponent of diversity and inclusion. We will continue to monitor the situation.” Today the Food Network did not say why Deen was dropped. But a media frenzy mounted over the revelations in that deposition for the lawsuit filed by a former manager of one of Deen’s family restaurants. In the document, Deen admitted that in her past she used racial slurs in her family life and tolerated racist jokes in the workplace, all of which ran counter to her beloved image. It also sparked a national debate about what constitutes “acceptable” old and new Southern attitudes towards race.
Deen was scheduled for an exclusive on-camera “open and candid” interview with Today‘s Matt Lauer widely promoted by NBC. But then she begged off via a publicist citing exhaustion after she flew to NYC. The 66-year-old from Savannah, GA, became an instant hit on The Food Network when she debuted. Since then she’s built an empire in publishing, on cable, and in food preparation. She even made The Food Network into a family affair by putting her two sons on their own shows. But a social media onslaught of outrage overwhelmed Deen over the deposition’s disclosures, even though she said that she had not used the N-word in the restaurant and that she and her family did not tolerate prejudice. It seemed on the surface to be a survivable scandal — but it clearly wasn’t. Not even when today she posted an emotional 46-second video on YouTube filled with apologies. Then that video was taken down and replaced by a more measured response from her. Watch that one here: