Paula Deen, the self-proclaimed queen of Southern cooking and a sugary mainstay of the Food Network, was dropped by the network Friday, after a bewildering day in which she failed to show up for an interview on the “Today” show and then in two online videos begged her family and audience to forgive her for using racist language.
A network spokeswoman said it would not renew Deen’s contract when it expired at the end of June. Deen has faced a volley of criticism this week over her remarks in a deposition for a discrimination lawsuit by a former employee. In the document, she admitted she had used racial epithets, tolerated racist jokes and condoned pornography in the workplace.
The Food Network statement did not elaborate on its reasons, but a person close to the network said its shows featuring her sons, Jamie and Bobby, would not be affected.
Those shows were part of a small culinary business empire run by Deen, 66, who has produced numerous cookbooks, lent her name to household products from butter to mattresses, and served as a spokeswoman for Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Smithfield Foods. She and her sons own and operate The Lady and Sons restaurant in Savannah, Ga. Her magazine, “Cooking with Paula Deen,” has a circulation of nearly 1 million, her website says.
In her first video Friday, posted on YouTube and later removed, Deen, near tears, said: “I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I’ve done. I want to learn and grow from this. Inappropriate and hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable.”
In a longer video posted later in the afternoon, she appeared more composed.
In yet a third video on YouTube, posted Friday afternoon, Deen apologized to Matt Lauer, the host of “Today,” for skipping a scheduled exclusive interview earlier in the day.
In the deposition, Deen also stated that “most jokes” are about Jews, gay people, black people and “rednecks.”
“I can’t, myself, determine what offends another person,” she said.