Deen's Recovery Begins... Kinda
There's one good thing about hitting rock bottom: The only way to go is up. After what can only be described as a hell storm of a week, it appears that things are looking just a pinch brighter for Paula Deen. No one's saying she's out of the woods yet, but even as more partnerships burn to the ground, there is some (proverbial) cream rising to the top.
It's true that Walmart, as well as Caesars Entertainment, which operates Paula Deen-themed restaurants at four of its properties, dropped her on Wednesday.
"We are ending our relationship with Paula Deen Enterprises and we will not place new orders beyond those already committed," the retailer, which sold Deen-branded grocery and wellness items, said in a statement. "We will work with suppliers to address existing inventories and agreements."
Caesars also issued a statement, explaining, "While we appreciate Paula's sincere apologies for statements she made in her past that she recently disclosed during a deposition... after thoughtful consideration of their impact, we have mutually decided that it is in the best interests of both parties to part ways at this time."
While her "Today" show appearance on Wednesday morning proved too little too late to save those two major partnerships, it did garner a bevy of positive reviews from both celebs and civilians alike.
Never one to shy away from controversy, Donald Trump weighed in following Deen's sit-down with Lauer.
"Paula Deen made a big mistake in using a forbidden word but must be given some credit for admitting her mistake. She will be back!" he tweeted.
"The View" co-hosts also sounded off. As usual, the ladies were divided, but Barbara Walters and Elisabeth Hasselbeck sided with the magnate. In a nutshell, Barbara argued that Deen has apologized so it's time to move on, while Elisabeth claimed that everyone should be given a second chance.
But these celebrities weren't alone. Many omg! readers posted signs of support for Deen.
Barbara conceded, "Most of us in the past have said or done something that we regretted and I think what is in our hearts today is what should count," adding, "I am sure Matt Lauer is no saint."
J M echoed these sentiments, writing, "I stand beside Paula and anyone else who has had their character assassinated like she has. Hypocrites are always ready to pounce and ignore their own flaws. All these people screaming racism are the most racist people out there."
Perhaps Leann summed it up best, however, when she noted, "I wish she had asked Matt if he had ever used a racial slur."
As people, and publications, criticized Lauer for coming on too strong, troops rallied around Deen. And she seems more than ready to get some cooks in her image-rehab kitchen.
According to Us Weekly, the 66-year-old has hired D.C.-based crisis management expert Judy Smith - who famously inspired Olivia Pope, the fictional fixer played by Kerry Washington on the ABC drama "Scandal" - to helm her recovery efforts. Smith is credited with bringing Monica Lewinsky and Michael Vick back from the brink of media destruction - no small feat.
What's more, Deen's surviving businesses are reportedly booming, as fans support the remorseful star by flooding her Savannah restaurant and cruise line with bookings.
Deen's brother, Bubba Hiers (who is named as a defendant in the harassment suit against Paula) insists that not only is their family "doing fine," but, in fact, their restaurants are "slammed."
It's not just her hometown spots, however, that are enjoying an uptick. Following Deen's tearful TV apology, Celebrity Cruises, which hosts Parties at Sea with Paula Deen & Family, announced that it added additional dates in 2014 due to fans' demands, E! News reports.
Other good news came when the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show, an annual culinary exhibition, confirmed that it too is sticking by Ms. Deen.
"Paula Deen has been a friend to The Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show for many years," read a statement on its website. "She has apologized and we are taking her apology at her word and moving forward accordingly... This is a nation of forgiveness and second chances. In that spirit we intend to go forward with the MetroCooking Shows in Houston, Dallas and Washington, DC as planned with Paula as a presenter. At this time we have no plans to do otherwise."
While Deen's still in a heap of trouble, the latest wave of support means she just might escape this fiasco without her whole empire collapsing like a bad souffle.
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