UPDATE: Food Network says they will not renew Paula Deen's contract
By NBC News
By Vidya Rao,TODAY
(NBC) - Food Network has issued a statement saying it will not renew the contract for Paula Deen, who has been embroiled in controversy over the last several days after she admitted to using racial slurs in the past and failed to show up for a scheduled interview on TODAY Friday.
"Food Network will not renew Paula Deen's contract when it expires at the end of this month," a spokesperson said in a statement.
This came after Deen posted three short apology videos on YouTube.
The first was a 46-second video posted on YouTube Friday afternoon, in which she offered up an apology for using "inappropriate, hurtful language." In a second video, Deen apologized for failing to show up for a scheduled interview with Matt Lauer on TODAY Friday to discuss her admission. The third was a similar, shorter version apologizing to Lauer.
"I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I've done, and I want to learn and grow from this," Deen says in the highly edited video. "Inappropriate, hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable. I've made plenty of mistakes along the way, but I beg you, my children, my team, my fans, my partners, I beg for your forgiveness. Please forgive me for the mistakes that I've made."
The video was briefly changed to private after it was initially posted, but was quickly restored to being publicly watchable. Her apology didn't specifically address any of the allegations made against her.
Things have recently gotten a bit uncomfortable for the queen of comfort cooking. Deen, currently mired in scandal after admitting use of racial slurs, particularly the N-word, was a no-show for an interview with Matt Lauer on TODAY Friday.
"We had arranged to do an interview with Paula Deen, it had been going on, the discussions about that interview, throughout the day yesterday with her people," Lauer said in the show's opening. "I spoke to her late afternoon on the phone yesterday and we talked about the fact that it would be an open and candid discussion, no holds barred." Later, Lauer added, "She told me at one point… ‘I don't know how to be anything but honest.'"
Lauer said the Savannah, Ga.-based Food Network star flew to New York last night for the interview, but that her team later said she was "exhausted."
"And this morning, although we have not spoken to her — she has not called us — her publicity people have told us she's exhausted and will not be showing up," Lauer explained.
This is just the latest troubling incident for Deen, who made national headlines this week after details emerged from a May 17 deposition in which she admitted using racial slurs.
A lawsuit filed last year against her and her brother Bubba Hiers by Lisa Jackson, a former manager of a restaurant owned by the siblings, alleged that employees there faced a hostile work environment. Deen and Hiers deny wrongdoing, according to court records.
Jackson alleged that while Deen was planning her brother's 2007 wedding, she said of the waitstaff, "Well what I would really like is a bunch of little [N-words] to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties...now that would be a true Southern wedding, wouldn't it?"
According to the transcript of the deposition, filed Monday in U.S. District Court, Deen denied using the N-word in that instance, but acknowledged that she had used it in other cases, such as when she was held up at gunpoint in the 1980s and later used the word to describe the robber to her husband.
"But that's just not a word that we use as time has gone on," Deen said. "Things have changed since the '60s in the South. And my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior. As well as I do."
The rationalization doesn't sit well with critics and many in the public, who lampooned Deen on Twitter beginning Wednesday with the hashtag #PaulasBestDishes, the name of her Food Network show. Tweets used the tag along with satirical names for recipes such as "Massa-Roni and Cheese," "Lettuce From a Birmingham Jail" and "Key Lynch Pie."
"She insulted the present-day South and the decent people in it," wrote TIME's TV critic James Poniewozik. "She insulted the fans who wanted to like her food and TV shows and not be embarrassed; and she insulted the home-and-hospitality culture she purports to stand up for."
The Food Network has issued a statement on the matter, saying the channel "does not tolerate any form of discrimination and is a strong proponent of diversity and inclusion. We will continue to monitor the situation."
Willliam Franklin, Deen's attorney, also issued a statement, saying, "Contrary to media reports, Ms. Deen does not condone or find the use of racial epithets acceptable."
This isn't the first controversy Deen has been embroiled in. In 2012, the Southern star revealed to TODAY that she had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes three years earlier, while simultaneously announcing that she had an endorsement deal with Novo-Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company that makes her diabetes medication — all while continuing to promote her brand of rich comfort cooking.
As a result, she faced serious backlash from the public as well as criticism from other celebrity chefs, most notably Anthony Bourdain, who summed up the sentiment tweeting, "Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later."
Despite Deen's no-show on Friday, TODAY anchor Al Roker said he hoped she would ultimately come back to speak out on the controversy.
"She's been on the show so many times, she's a friend of the show — we consider her a friend," Roker said. "We would hope she would reconsider, because she really needs to address this."
Lauer also tweeted Friday morning, "Hoping to get more on the Paula Deen situation soon. Very confusing."