Wednesday’s live sitdown interview will be exclusive to NBC’s Today whose Matt Lauer had been scheduled originally to talk to Paula Deen on Friday. “She has told us she will be here this time,” Lauer said today on the air. The Southern comfort food cook was a no-show citing exhaustion Friday, the same day she received the bad news that The Food Network wasn’t going to renew her contract when it expires at the end of June. This, despite her release of two videotaped apologies for using “N-word” racial slurs in her past. Today on its website asked whether Deen can stage a comeback after the racism allegations. But this TV appearance also may re-ignite the media frenzy after what appears to be a public backlash to Deen’s punishment for what seemed a survivable scandal on the surface. Now the entire matter has sparked a national debate about what constitutes “acceptable” old and new Southern attitudes towards race.
It’s reportedly business as usual at Deen’s family restaurants in Savannah, GA. But her deals with Simon & Schuster publishing and QVC home shopping are still in jeopardy after both companies said they are “monitoring the situation”. At issue is a 2012 discrimination lawsuit and specifically Deen’s May 17th deposition filed Monday in federal court. In the document, Deen admitted that in her past she used racial slurs in family life and tolerated racist jokes in the workplace which ran counter to her beloved image.