Paula Deen should hope for more fans like Jennifer Everett of Tyler, Texas, who carried a shopping bag filled with $53 worth of merchandise from the celebrity chef's Georgia store on Thursday. A day earlier, it was revealed that Deen admitted during questioning in a lawsuit that she had slurred blacks in the past. "Who hasn't ever said that word?" Everett said. "I don't think any less of her."
Deen's admission that she had used the N-word in the past wasn't the first time the queen of comfort food's mouth had gotten her into big trouble. She said in 2012 that for three years she hid her Type 2 diabetes while continuing to cook the calorie-laden food that's bad for people like her. Hypocrisy is one thing, hostility another. From her days as a divorced mother selling bag lunches on the streets of Savannah, Deen has parlayed her folksy, Southern gal charm into an empire that includes Food Network TV shows, cookbooks, magazines and product endorsements.
Now there's at least some risk to that image — and her empire. The Food Network, which began airing "Paula's Home Cooking" in 2002 and added "Paula's Best Dishes" in 2008, has said it does not tolerate discrimination and is looking at the situation. Outside of her fans, Deen is now best known as the woman with diabetes who cooks fatty food and has made racially controversial statements, said Matthew Hiltzik, a New York public relations specialist. "Those are usually not the ingredients — no pun intended — for a successful brand," he said. "However, she has very loyal, dedicated followers who are most likely to accept her apologies and explanations."
Relative found Gandolfini in hotel room
A friend of "Sopranos" star James Gandolfini said Thursday the actor was discovered by a family member in his hotel room in Rome before he was pronounced dead of cardiac arrest at a hospital. Michael Kobold, who described himself as a close family friend, read a short statement, but said little more about the circumstances of Gandolfini's death. He did not say who discovered Gandolfini, 51, but NBC quoted Antonio D'Amore, manager of the Boscolo Excedra hotel, as saying it was the actor's 13-year-old son, Michael. Gandolfini was pronounced dead at 11 p.m. Wednesday in Rome after being taken by ambulance to the Policlinic Umberto I hospital. An autopsy would be performed, as required by law. The actor, known for his portrayal of the tortured Italian-American mob boss Tony Soprano was to have given a special class at the Taormina Film Festival. Gandolfini was to have been given the "Taormina City Prize" on Saturday before attending the festival's closing ceremony alongside actress Marisa Tomei.