Deen's Future Uncertain Ahead of New "Today" Appearance

Paula Deen reschedules interview with Matt Lauer for Wednesday as second business partnership is terminated and fans offer support.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images for Extra
    Paula Deen

    Paula Deen is set for an exclusive interview on the "Today" show Wednesday, and this time she may actually appear.

    Deen was a no-show for a scheduled sit-down with Matt Lauer on Friday, ahead of a day that went from bad to worse for the folksy Southern cook.

    After failing to appear on the NBC morning show, Deen posted two online apologies addressing her past use of racial slurs and her canceled television interview. Immediately after her public outpouring in which she begs for forgiveness from fans and partners hit the Internet, the Food Network - where Deen had been an on-air regular since 2002 - announced it would not be renewing her contract when it expires at the end of June.

    On the heels of that announcement, Smithfield Foods, Inc., the largest pork producer in the United States, issued a statement Monday saying that the company and Deen were also parting ways.

    Paula Deen Apologizes

    [NY] Paula Deen Apologizes
    Embattled Food Network star Paula Deen released a video statement addressing her past use of racial slurs, which overnight became a national scandal. In the clip, Deen appears visibly upset and at times close to tears. "I beg for your forgiveness.... please forgive me for the mistakes that I've made," she said.

    "Smithfield condemns the use of offensive and discriminatory language and behavior of any kind. Therefore, we are terminating our partnership with Paula Deen,” company vice president Keira Lombardo said in the statement, adding, "Smithfield is determined to be an ethical food industry leader and it is important that our values and those of our spokespeople are properly aligned.”

    Smithfield, headquartered in Smithfield, Virginia, produced a line of hams under the Paula Deen Collection label. Deen and Smithfield have worked together since 2006.

    So where to next for the embattled celebrity chef as many of her other business partners (including home shopping giant QVC) admit they are monitoring the situation as it continues to unfold?

    Back to the "Today" show.

    Paula Deen's Second Apology

    [NY] Paula Deen's Second Apology
    In a 46-second video posted on YouTube, Paula Deen offered up an apology for using "inappropriate, hurtful language." In this second video, Deen apologized for failing to show up for a scheduled interview on "Today" Friday to discuss her admission that she's used racial slurs in the past.

    "She has told us she will be here this time," tweeted Matt Lauer Monday morning of his newly scheduled sit-down with Deen.

    "See you Wednesday, I am so glad Matt, Al and my friends at @TodayShow are bringing me back," Deen tweeted in response.

    Deen, 66, has been mired in scandal after details emerged from a May 17 deposition in which she admitted using racial slurs, particularly the N-word. Her deposition is part of a $1.2 million lawsuit filed by Lisa Jackson, a former manager of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House in Savannah. Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers own the restaurant.

    In the lawsuit Jackson claims she was sexually harassed by Hiers and that Deen used the N-word around her.

    Deen sought forgiveness from fans and critics first with a 46-second video posted Friday afternoon, in which she offered up an apology for using "inappropriate, hurtful language." In a second video, Deen professed remorse for failing to show up for the scheduled "Today" interview with Matt Lauer to discuss the revelations.

    Immediately on the heels of her taped apologies, the Food Network issued the following statement: "Food Network will not renew Paula Deen's contract when it expires at the end of this month."

    Later Friday, Deen responded to the network ousting in a statement that read: "I have had the pleasure of being allowed into so many homes across the country and meeting people who have shared with me the most touching and personal stories. This would not have been possible without the Food Network. Thank you again. Love and best dishes to all of y'all."

    Deen's public image had also come under fire in 2012 when it was revealed that she had diabetes for three years while continuing to promote high-fat, high-sugar recipes in her televised appearances and cookbooks. The information regarding her health was only made public at the same time it was announced she would become the celebrity face of an initiative by a diabetes drug company.

    Over the weekend fans came out in support of the cook in the wake of the Food Network announcement with loyalists flocking to Deen's Savannah restaurant The Lady and Sons, and a "We Support Paula Deen" Facebook page garnering almost 300,000 likes.

    Angry messages piled up Saturday on the Food Network's Facebook page, with many Deen fans threatening to switch the channel for good.

    But as support for Deen grows, her current business associates (Forbes has estimated her net worth at $17 million) remain cagey amid the constant servings of drama.

    "QVC shares the concerns being raised around the unfortunate Paula Deen situation," the home shopping corporation said in a statement Sunday.

    "QVC does not tolerate discriminatory behavior. We are closely monitoring these events and the ongoing litigation. We are reviewing our business relationship with Ms. Deen, and in the meantime, we have no immediate plans to have her appear on QVC."

    The shopping network currently features "Paula Deen's Kitchen," which sells the star's collection of cookbooks, bakeware, cookware and kitchen tools.

    Deen's products are also sold at Target, J.C. Penney, Walmart and Sears. Sears Holdings, K-Mart's parent company, released a statement Saturday saying: "The company is currently exploring next steps as they pertain to Ms. Deen's products."

    Over at Deen's book publisher, Random House, Inc., plans continue to move forward with the October release of a new tome titled "Paula Deen's New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up." However, a spokesman for the company, whose imprints include Ballantine Books, tells People, "We are monitoring the situation closely." 

    Novo Nordisk, the maker of the diabetes drug Victoza for which Deen is a spokesperson, is so far sticking by her.

    "Paula Deen [is] still a product spokesperson for the Victoza brand," a Novo Nordisk spokesman said in a statement. "We recognize the seriousness of these allegations and will follow the legal proceedings closely, staying in contact with her. As a company committed to improving the lives of people with diabetes, Novo Nordisk engaged Deen as a spokeswoman because of her commitment to increasing awareness about diabetes to millions of people in this country."