LOS ANGELES – Paula Deen’s Food Network career is toast after the network announced Friday that it would not be renewing the popular shows “Paula’s Best Dishes” and “Paula’s Home Cooking” after her contract expires at the end of June.
In explosive comments revealed this week, the silver-haired star chef admitted in a recorded deposition last month to using the N-word when she was held at gunpoint by a black man when she worked in a bank many years ago, and perhaps in the years since. She also admitted to planning a slavery-themed wedding.
The admissions are part of a $1.2 million lawsuit brought by Lisa Jackson, the former manager of a Savannah, Georgia, restaurant run by Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers. Jackson alleges in the suit that Deen used the N-word at the restaurant and that Hiers sexually harassed her.
While Deen herself has an estimated net worth of around $16 million, her axing will likely cause serious stress for some members of her team.
“The staff is probably out, most production employment contracts are written to say that if production ceases, their jobs come to an end unless you get a guaranteed ‘pay or play’ deal,” television executive Lonnie Burstein, Executive Vice-President Programming at Debmar Mercury said. “But it’s no different to any other show getting canceled. It’s the nature of the business.”
Burstein also said that the chances of Deen being picked up by another network are “virtually none.”
There are no official figures available with regards to how many people were employed on Deen’s shows, although an inside source connected to the show was pre-taped and in a small studio with no audience, with around 15 stage managers, a few camera persons and her a few more making up Deen’s personal posse.
“Some will be re-positioned within the Food Network and some will lose their jobs,” continued our source. “What these celebrities don’t realize is the impact their actions have on so many others. So the big question now is whether or not Paula will take care of her staff.”
Even before Friday’s announcement, several big Food Network advertisers had already begun sharpening their knives. A rep for Home Depot insisted they do not advertise specifically on Paula Deen’s programs, informing us just before news broke of her contract ending that they “are not a sponsor of the Paula Deen show or any of her other properties, but have asked the Food Network to ensure (their) ads do not run alongside her show. “
A rep for Unilever also confirmed that “Unilever is pulling advertising from Paula Deen's show but not from the Food Network,” and a rep for General Motors said that the company “has a strong commitment to diversity and no tolerance for racism” and would continue to monitor the situation.
The Food Network and a rep for Deen did not respond to a request for further comment.