ATLANTA — Celebrity chef Paula Deen, who was scheduled to appear on national television to address controversy over racial slurs, abruptly cancelled Friday.
Anchors for NBC’s “Today” show told viewers Friday that Deen had traveled to New York to appear, but was a “no show” for the interview.
Host Matt Lauer said he spoke with Deen on Thursday morning to arrange the interview, but her representatives told the show she was exhausted after her flight and wouldn’t appear.
The interview was to have been a “no-holds-barred” discussion in which all questions are allowed, Lauer said.
Controversy arose after the Food Network star was questioned as part of a discrimination lawsuit involving a Savannah restaurant that Deen partly owns. According to a transcript of the deposition, an attorney asked Deen if she has ever used the N-word. She replied “Yes, of course,” though she added: “It’s been a very long time.”
Deen’s representative did not immediately return phone calls from The Associated Press left Friday, after Deen canceled the interview.
The lawsuit was filed by Lisa Jackson, a former manager of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House. Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers, co-own the restaurant. Jackson sued them last year, saying she was sexually harassed and worked in a hostile environment rife with innuendo and racial slurs.
In the deposition, Deen said she may have also used the slur when recalling conversations between black employees at her restaurants, but she couldn’t recall specifics.
William Franklin, Deen’s attorney, has said the celebrity was looking forward to her day in court.
“Contrary to media reports, Ms. Deen does not condone or find the use of racial epithets acceptable,” he said in a statement earlier this week.
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