Is Paula Deen Cooked? QVC Among Latest to Drop Embattled Chef
Paula Deen’s cooking empire continued to crumble last week after her admitted use of a racial slur prompted home-shopping channel QVC to part ways with the beleaguered celebrity chef.
In an online letter to customers last Thursday (June 27), QVC CEO Mike George said the company had decided to “take a pause” with the beleaguered chef/entrepreneur and phase out her product line on the channel for the time being, due to the revelations last month that she had used the N-word in the past.
Deen admitted to using such language in her deposition for a discrimination lawsuit brought by an employee of a restaurant the celebrity chef owns with her brother.
“Paula won’t be appearing on any upcoming broadcasts, and we will phase out her product assortment on our online sales channels over the next few months,” George said. “We all think it’s important, at this moment, for Paula to concentrate on responding to the allegations against her and on her path forward.”
Deen responded in a letter posted to the shopping network’s website by thanking her QVC fans. “As you know, I have some important things to work on right now, both personally and professionally … and so we’ve agreed that it’s best for me to step back from QVC and focus on setting things right.”
QVC’s decision comes as Deen continued her attempts to rehabilitate her tarnished image and brand, tearfully apologizing for her use of the racial slur last Wednesday (June 26) during an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today.
QVC’s dismissal of the 66-year-old chef follows similar terminations last week from Sears and Kmart, Walmart, Home Depot and Target, all of which sell Deen-branded kitchen products and cookware. Two weeks ago, Food Network said it would not renew its contract with Deen after 10-year relationship. Deen had been one of Food’s original stars, serving as one of its most popular personalities since she first appeared in 2002 and helping to build the network’s brand throughout the 2000s.
Deen is no stranger to controversy: The chef, famous for her liberal use of butter and heavy cream in her recipes, was chastised by fans and the media last year for hiding her type-2 diabetes. She further complicated matters when she signed on to be a spokeswoman for drug company Norvo Nordisk, which produced a diabetes treatment drug — a relationship that has since been suspended due to Deen’s recent controversial comments.
Deen’s admitted use of the N-word and her awkward attempts at redemption — a much-criticized YouTube video and her tearful Today interview did little to quell the controversy — has torpedoed her media empire, worth an estimated $16 million, according to Fox News.
But it hasn’t totally sunk the ship.
While Scripps Networks Interactive-owned Food has completely severed its ties to Deen, QVC has kept the door open. In his letter, QVC’s George recognized that Deen still has fans that “feel equally strongly that Paula is not being treated fairly in the public debate and deserves forgiveness.”
He added that “people deserve second chances. And we always strive to do the right thing.”
Only time will tell whether she can completely turn the page on this ugly chapter of her life and cook up a new dish for her beleaguered brand.
A week after losing her Food Network deal for using a racial slur, celebrity chef Paula Deen has been dropped by more business partners.
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.