The Food Network said Friday it's dumping Paula Deen, barely an hour after the celebrity cook posted aonline begging forgiveness from fans and critics troubled by her to having used racial slurs in the past.
The 66-year-old Savannah kitchen celebrity has been swamped in controversy since court documents filed this week revealed Deen told an attorney questioning her under oath last month that she has used the N-word. "Yes, of course," Deen said, though she added, "It's been a very long time."
The Food Network, which made Deen a star with "Paula's Home Cooking" in 2002 and later "Paula's Home Cooking" in 2008, weighed in with a terse statement Friday afternoon.
"Food Network will not renew Paula Deen's contract when it expires at the end of this month," the statement said. Network representatives declined further comment.
The news came as Deen worked to repair the damage to her image.
In a video clip, posted Friday, the 66-year-old Food Network star said, "I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I've done. I want to learn and grow from this."
Earlier Friday, Deen was a second video Friday afternoon explaining why she didn't appear on "Today."for a scheduled appearance on the "Today" show where she was expected to discuss the issue. She released a
"I was invited this morning to speak with Matt Lauer about a subject that has been very hurtful for a lot of people," Deen said. "And Matt, I have to say, I was physically unable this morning. The pain has been tremendous that I have caused to myself and to others."
She added, "I want people to understand that my family and I -- we're not the kind of people that the press is wanting to say we are."
Court records show Deen sat down for a deposition May 17 in a discrimination lawsuit filed last year by a former employee who managed Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House, a Savannah restaurant owned by Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers. The ex-employee, Lisa Jackson, says she was sexually harassed and worked in a hostile environment rife with innuendo and racial slurs.
The transcript of Deen's questioned by an attorney for Jackson shows she was peppered with questions about her racial attitudes. At one point she's asked if she thinks jokes using the N-word are "mean." Deen says jokes often target minority groups and "I can't, myself, determine what offends another person."
Deen also acknowledges she briefly considered hiring all black waiters for her brother's 2007 wedding, an idea inspired by the staff at a restaurant she had visited with her husband. She insisted she quickly dismissed the idea.
But she also insisted in her legal deposition that she and her brother have no tolerance for bigotry.
"Bubba and I, neither one of us, care what the color of your skin is" or what gender a person is, Deen said. "It's what's in your heart and in your head that matters to us."