Do you want fries with that online video? Celebrity cook Paula Deen, the corn-pone queen of lard-laden Southern cooking whose empire stumbled badly last year after she admitted in a lawsuit to using racist slurs, announced that she is launching a subcription-based online video network in the fall. The network is the latest step in Deen’s efforts to reclaim a media, food and housewares empire once estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars. Signups for the Paula Deen Network will begin in July, reads the announcement from Paula Deen Ventures, a company formed after Deen admitted under oath to using the slurs.
According to an AP story, production for the new digital channel has already begun on a set in Savannah, Ga., designed to resemble that of her now-cancelled Food Network show, Paula’s Home Cooking. Deen, who has somewhat recanted her more over-the-top culinary extravagances after being diagnosed with diabetes, will also provide programming about healthier diet options, according to AP. “We’re going to have so much fun being together and cooking up some wonderful new and classic dishes,” Deen gushed in a news release today. “Y’all can get my recipes, tips and cooking anytime you want — this is for you. I can’t wait to crank up the oven and get cooking for the people I love: my family, my friends and my fans!”
The move comes after Paula Deen Ventures earlier this year landed backing from Najafi Media, the deep-pocketed content and distribution subsidiary of Najafi Cos. Its founder and CEO Jahm Najafi was the principal investor and financing partner who with Jeff Berg launched Resolution talent agency in January 2013. When the PDV deal was announced in February, new boss Steven Nanula, who for the past two years led the development of the Paula Deen Food Company, told the Wall Street Journal the company was in talks with TV networks and other possible partners. The WSJ said the investment was from $75 million-$100 million.