Paula Deen Splits With Longtime Agent Barry Weiner

Paula Deen has split with her longtime agent Barry Weiner. Wilford Harewood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Paula Deen has parted ways with Barry Weiner, the New York-based agent who helped make her a Food Network star. "Paula Deen has separated from her agent," the butter-loving cook's spokeswoman, Elana Weiss, said in an email obtained by the Associated Press on Thursday, July 4. "She and her family thank him for the tireless effort and dedication over the many years."

Deen credited Weiner with being instrumental in getting Paula's Home Cooking on the Food Network in 2006. The show was recently canceled after Deen admitted to previously using the N-word during a videotaped deposition. Deen offered no further insight into why she cut ties with Weiner, though Weiss added, "Paula wishes him well in all future endeavors."

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In the weeks after Deen admitted to using the N-word (while under oath), the 66-year-old Georgia native was dropped by many business partners, including JCPenney, Sears, Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, Home Depot and Smithfield Foods. Deen's publisher, Ballantine, also canceled plans for her upcoming cookbook; Ironically, advance sales made it the No. 1 seller on Amazon.

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QVC, meanwhile, has yet to sever its relationship with Deen. "Many of you have expressed disappointment and even anger at the comments Paula has acknowledged making," network president and CEO Mike George recently told QVC customers. "Others feel equally strongly that Paula is not being treated fairly in the public debate and deserves forgiveness. Your spirited conversation reflects the complexity of the issues raised and the deep feelings surrounding them."

George added, "We too are troubled by what Paula has acknowledged saying. We're also troubled by the allegations against her. We deeply believe, as you do, that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. . .Together we have considered what is best for our customers, for Paula, and for QVC," he said. "For now, we have decided to take a pause."

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That means Deen's products will be "phased out" in the next few months, George explained. Additionally, Deen will not be making any TV appearances in the near future. "We all think it's important, at this moment, for Paula to concentrate on responding to the allegations against her and on her path forward," George said. He stressed that the "pause" is not permanent, saying, "People deserve second chances. And we always strive to do the right thing."

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