Published June 26, 2013
LOS ANGELES – After abruptly canceling a ‘Today’ interview last Friday amid the media maelstrom regarding her admitted use of racial slurs decades ago, embattled celebrity chef Paula Deen appeared on the show Wednesday morning in an attempt to set the record straight.
"I is what I is, and I'm not changing," a frazzled Deen told host Matt Lauer. "If there is anyone out there that has never said something that they wish they could take back, please pick up that stone and throw it so hard that it kills me."
Deen insisted that she only ever used the N-word on one occasion, decades ago. She also claimed that the story had been blown out of proportion, and inaccurately depicted her as a racist.
So did the appearance help save what is left of her food-related empire, once estimated to be worth $16 million?
Initial reports seem to signal the contrary. On Wednesday morning, Caesars Entertainment said it would rebrand the Paula Deen-themed restaurants at four of its properties in the coming months.
“While we appreciate Paula’s sincere apologies for statements she made in her past that she recently disclosed during a deposition given in response to a lawsuit, after thoughtful consideration of their impact, we have mutually decided that it is in the best interests of both parties to part ways at this time,” said rep Jan Jones Blackhurst in a statement to FOX411.
On Wednesday afternoon, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced it was also ending its relationship with Deen.
The company will not place "any new orders beyond what's already committed."
Caesars and Wal-Mart join The Food Network and Smithfield Foods in severing their ties with the TV chef. And some experts we talked to said Deen’s appearance left questions some of her partners may still want answered.
"Paula Deen may have helped herself in that she appeared upset, sincere and apologetic. At the same time, the interview also raised issues about her credibility and exactly what she is admitting to, given the discrepancies between the interview and the deposition," employment attorney Randi Kochman told FOX411's Pop Tarts column. "Of course, these credibility issues may hurt her in the ongoing litigation and perhaps with her business partners."
But Larry Bodine, Editor in Chief of Lawyers.com, said that Deen made a convincing appearance, and that the companies abandoning her might regret it later.
"When I see a 66-year old grandmother break down into tears and say she’s heartbroken about the lies being said about her, I believe her. I read the deposit transcript and it’s clear she’s been railroaded. She used the N-word in a private conversation – not on the air – after she had a gun put other head in a bank robbery. She was scared, I get it," he said. "I predict the Food Network will realize it made a big mistake when the backlash hits."
PR guru Glenn Selig of The Publicity Agency also said Deen came across honest and real.
"It'll come down to whether the public believes her and I believe her fans and the general public will. The people who dislike her will always dislike her. I'd say Paula Deen fired up her base," he said. "She answered honestly in her deposition and she came across honest in her answers. She appeared unrehearsed and very raw which I believe will play in her favor. Had she done this last Friday and not canceled out and produced those two videos, she'd been much better off."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.