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Food Network to Sever Ties With Paula Deen at End of This Month

The Food Network is severing ties with celebrity chef Paula Deen following her admission in court documents that she used racial slurs.

Deen’s contract won’t be renewed when it expires at the end of the month, the Food Network, part of Knoxville, Tennessee-based Scripps Networks Interactive Inc., said yesterday in an e-mailed statement.

The star of “Paula’s Home Cooking” and “Paula’s Best Dishes” became embroiled in controversy when she said in court documents made public this week that she has used a derogatory term for black people. Deen, 66, posted an online video today asking for forgiveness.

“I want to learn and grow from this,” Deen said in the video at Google Inc.’s YouTube. “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.”

Elana Weiss-Rose, a publicist for Deen, didn’t respond to phone and e-mail requests for comment.

Deen and brother Bubba Hiers are being sued by Lisa Jackson, a former manager of their restaurant in Savannah, Georgia, called Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, the Associated Press reported. Jackson says she was sexually harassed and worked in a hostile environment marked by innuendo and racial slurs, the AP reported.

During a deposition last month, Deen was asked under oath about her views on racial matters, the AP wrote. Asked if she believed jokes using a racial epithet are mean, Deen responded “I can’t, myself, determine what offends another person,” the AP reported.

Court Documents

Deen also said during the deposition that she once considered hiring all black waiters for her brother’s 2007 wedding before dismissing the idea, according to the AP.

“Bubba and I, neither one of us, care what the color of your skin is,” Deen said in the testimony, according to the AP. “It’s what’s in your heart and in your head that matters to us.”

Scripps Interactive operates HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel and Great American Country, according to its website. The Food Network has averaged 1.13 million viewers a night in prime time since September, according to data from Nielsen. Comcast Corp.’s USA Network is most-watched at 2.82 million.

Scripps Interactive fell 0.3 percent to $66.04 yesterday in New York. The stock has climbed 14 percent this year, compared with 12 percent at the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

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