Disgraced chef Paula Deen’s fans rush to her defense DESPITE racist comments as they line up outside her restaurant and bombard Food Network with thousands of angry comments for firing her
- Paula Deen’s fans left thousands of messages calling for a boycott of the Food Network
- Fans lined up Saturday outside of Deen’s Savannah, Georgia, restaurant The Lady and Sons
- Deen thanked the network just hours after her firing for 11 ‘great years’
- Deen under fire earlier this week when a lawsuit revealed she used racial slurs and wanted a ‘plantation-style’ wedding
- She admits to using ‘N-word’ and wanting black men dressed as slaves
- Uploads several heavily-edited, grovelling video-apologies rambling about her mistakes
- The Food Network announce Deen’s contract won’t be renewed at the end of the month
- Net worth of $17million from TV series, restaurants, cookbooks, kitchenware, cooking magazine and flavored butters
The goddess of Southern comfort food Paula Deen may be out of a job after admitting to using racial epithets, but she still has the support of her many fans, who wasted no time heaping abuse on the Food Network for letting her go.
Watching Deen’s cooking show was a weekend ritual for Marilynne Wilson, who says she’s furious at the channel for dumping the TV chef after she acknowledged using racial slurs in the past.
‘I was shocked. I thought she’d get a fair trial,’ Wilson, a nurse from Jacksonville, Fla., said Saturday after stopping to buy souvenirs at the gift shop Deen owns next to her Savannah restaurant. ‘I think the Food Network jumped the gun.’
A day after announcing that it’s dropping Deen from its roster of celebrity cooks, the cable network was served heaping portions of outrage by her admirers.
More than 8,000 angry messages piled up Saturday on the network’s Facebook page, with many Deen fans threatening to change the channel for good. ‘So good-bye Food Network,’ one viewer wrote. ‘I hope you fold like an accordion!!!’
‘I just unliked your fan page. How dare you fire Paula dean for saying the N word over 20 years ago,’ Shannon Griffin, of South Carolina, fumed in her Facebook post. ‘People say it today and i am sure half of your damn staff has used in more recently than 20 years.’
Some commenters, however, praised the network for its decision to let Deen go, saying that racism cannot go unpunished.
The decision to drop Deen, whose daytime shows have been a Food Network mainstay since 2002, came two days after disclosure of a recent court deposition in which Deen was asked under oath if she had ever used the N-word. ‘Yes, of course,’ 66-year-old Deen said, though she added, ‘It’s been a very long time.’
Deen and her brother are being sued by a former manager of their restaurant who says she was harassed and worked in an environment rife with innuendo and racial slurs.
Wilson’s friend Debbie Brown said the Food Network is ‘basically convicting’ Deen. ‘They should have waited until it goes to court,’ she said.
Deen issued a videotaped apology Friday in asking fans and critics alike for forgiveness. It had been posted online for about an hour when the Food Network released a terse statement that it ‘will not renew Paula Deen’s contract when it expires at the end of this month.’ The network refused to comment further.
Just hours after getting the axe from the Food Network, the 66-year-old celebrity chef issued a statement to CNNthanking her former employer for 11 ‘great years.’
‘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,’ she said. ‘This would not have been possible without the Food Network. Thank you again. Love and best dishes to all of ya’ll.’
A representative for Deen did not immediately return a phone call and email message Saturday.
Meanwhile, Deen’s critics were making themselves heard online. On Friday night, #PaulaDeenTVShows became a top trending topic on Twitter, with postings that satirized familiar titles. Earlier in the week, they tweeted satirical names for recipes using #PaulasBestDishes.
Deen’s legal deposition was conducted last month as part of the 2012 lawsuit filed by Lisa Jackson, who worked at Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House. The lawsuit drew scant attention from news outlets until Deen was questioned under oath and her remarks became available to the public in a transcript.
On Saturday, the controversy didn’t keep customers from The Lady & Sons, the restaurant owned by Deen and her sons in Savannah’s downtown historic district.
‘If you look at her restaurant here, I don’t think it’s going to hurt her too much,’ said Felipe Alexander, an Atlanta trucking company owner, as he waited on the sidewalk for his lunchtime reservation along with dozens of other Deen fans. He also said he didn’t blame the Food Network for cutting Deen loose.
‘If the network didn’t want to be associated with somebody who used that word, it has the right to do that,’ Alexander said.
Deen found an unlikely supporter in the face of the satirist and political commentator Bill Maher, who came to the chef’s defense Friday night while hosting his talk show, Real Time, The Inquisitr reported.
‘This may have been a shakedown,’ the comedian mused. ‘People may have been trying to shake her down, that happens all the time, so I’m not sure what the original charge is. But she did admit to using the n-word, so the Food Network cut her off.’
The fallout may not end with Food Network. At least two other companies that do business with Deen say they’re keeping a close eye on the controversy.
Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corporation, which has Deen’s restaurants in some of its casinos, said Friday that it ‘will continue to monitor the situation.’ Publisher Ballantine, which has a new Deen book scheduled to roll out this fall, used similar words.
The heat over Deen’s remarks hasn’t been quite as intense in Savannah, where her success over the past decade has helped raise the coastal Georgia city’s profile as a tourist magnet.
The head of Visit Savannah, the city’s tourism bureau, weighed in on Deen’s plight Saturday on Twitter.
‘OK, I’ll do it: what @Paula-Deen did was wrong,’ Joe Marinelli, Visit Savannah’s president, tweeted. ‘But she’s part of our @Savannah family and I’m here to support her.’
On Friday, new video has surfaced showing Deen voicing questionable views on race just months before her termination during a talk at the New York Times with reporter Kim Severson.
She justified her extreme views, saying: ‘We’re all prejudiced against one thing or another,’ she continues. ‘I think black people feel the same prejudice that white people feel.’
Severson brought up the topic of race relations after showing a clip from the chef’s appearance on ‘Who Do You Think You Are,’ in which she visits a large plantation a distant ancestor of hers had owned. The plantation had 30 slaves.
It prompted Deen to talk about the Civil War and the Antebellum South.
She states that the abolition of slavery was a ‘terrific change,’ but that her great-grandfather struggled with abolition of slavery after the Civil War ended.
‘Back then, black folk were such integral part of our lives, they were like our family, and for that reason, we didn’t see ourselves as being prejudiced.’
She takes care not to refer to them as ‘slaves.’ She calls them ‘these people’ or ‘workers.’
Ms Deen then moved on to talk about the state of present-day race relations.
She states that race relations in the South are ‘good… pretty good – tt will take a long time for it to completely be gone. If it’ll ever be gone.’
In a bizarre moment, the former Food Network star talks about a black employee of hers named Hollis Johnson.
She says that he’s become very dear to her in the 18 years she’s known him.
She points to the black backdrop behind her and says he’s ‘black as this board.’
Mr Johnson is called on stage and asks him to come up on stage. ‘We can’t see you in front of that dark board!’
The audience roars with laughter. Ms. Severson, slightly taken aback says, ‘Welcome to New York.’
Paula, jokingly retorts, ‘Welcome to the South!’
Ms Deen’s southern charm shine through, ‘This is my son by another father… I can trust him with my life and color ain’t got nothing to do with it!’
Yesterday, The Food Network accounted that Ms Deen would be sacked from her job despite begging the public for forgiveness over her past use of racial slurs.
Deen currently has three regular shows on the network, including Paula’s Best Dishes.
It came just hours after she released the 45-second video in which she says: ‘I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong I have done. I want to learn and grow from this.
‘Inappropriate, hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable. I have made plenty of mistakes along the way but I beg you, my children, my fans, my team, my partners, I beg for your forgiveness.
‘Please forgive me for the mistakes that I’ve made.’
Sued: TV chef Paula Deen (left) and her brother Bubba Hiers (right) have been accused of sexual harassment and racism in a lawsuit filed by a former employee of their co-owned restaurant
The 66-year-old was due to appear on the Today show this morning to to answer questions from Matt Lauer about the racial slurs – but she pulled out just before the show started.
Later that day she announced on her Twitter page that she would be releasing a video statement soon.
After the initial video was released another, longer one was then posted on YouTube and was taken down soon after.
‘My family and I are not the kind of people who the press say we are. I’ve spent the best of 24 years helping myself and others.
‘The color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference doesn’t matter to me. It’s what is in the heart and my family and I try to live by that.
‘I am so sorry, I was wrong, I’ve worked hard and I’ve made mistakes but that is no excuse and I offer my sincere apology to those that I have hurt.
‘I hope that you forgive me because this comes from the deepest part of my heart and I will continue to work and continue to do good things for good people.’
The no-show came after she was found in contempt of court in a $1.2million sexual harassment lawsuit for refusing to turn over a reel of ‘obscene and vulgar video outtakes’ in which she is said to cuss up a storm and simulate a sex act on a chocolate eclair.
Lisa Jackson is suing the Food Network star and her brother Earl ‘Bubba’ Heirs amid claims she was routinely exposed to racist slurs and sexual harassment while managing Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House in Savannah, Georgia.
She also performs a sex act on a chocolate eclair and says: ‘My a** ain’t pretty no more,’ according to court documents obtained by RadarOnline.
Deen had previously appealed the court’s decision and wouldn’t produce the tape until her appeal was heard.
On May 8, the 66-year-old chef and her co-defendants were ordered to turn it over so that Jackson could use it as part of her litigation. But they did not do this until they were found in contempt.
Jackson’s lawyer Matthew Billips told Radar the defendants simply ignored requests to produce the instant video but these requests were ignored and often they didn’t even bother to respond.
Deen admitted this week to using the N-word and wanting to plan a ‘plantation-style wedding’ with black waiters dressed like slaves.
The queen of Southern cuisine also revealed she referred to an underage waitress as a ‘piece of p****’ and said she was not offended by racist or sexist jokes – even when members of her family told them.
The allegations span the years 2005 to 2010, when Deen’s Food empire was expanding rapidly.
Transformation: Paula Deen, shed pounds after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, but she will have to work harder to throw off her apparent admissions during the videotaped deposition