SAVANNAH, Ga. — A day after announcing that it's dropping Paula Deen from its roster of celebrity cooks, the Food Network was served heaping portions of Southern-fried outrage by her fans.
Angry messages piled up Saturday on the network's Facebook page, with many Deen fans threatening to change the channel for good. “So good-bye Food Network,” one viewer wrote. “I hope you fold like an accordion!!!”
Watching Deen's cooking show was a weekend ritual for Marilynne Wilson, who said she's furious at the cable channel for dumping the comfort-food queen.
Two days ago, it was disclosed that Deen was asked under oath if she had ever used the N-word. “Yes, of course,” 66-year-old Deen said, though, she added, “It's been a very long time.”
“I was shocked. I thought she'd get a fair trial,” Wilson, a nurse from Jacksonville, Fla., said while stopping to buy souvenirs at the gift shop Deen owns next to her Savannah restaurant. “I think the Food Network jumped the gun.”
Deen and her brother are being sued by a former manager of their restaurant who says she was harassed and worked in an environment rife with innuendo and racial slurs.
The fallout may not end with Food Network. At least two other companies that do business with Deen say they're keeping a close eye on the controversy.
Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corp., which has Deen's restaurants in some of its casinos, said Friday that it “will continue to monitor the situation.” Publisher Ballantine, which has a new Deen book scheduled to roll out this fall, used similar words.
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