*In the wake of her racism scandal, former Food Network star Paula Deen has fired her long time agent Barry Weiner.
Deen, who worked with Weiner for more than a decade, credits him with getting her show “Paula’s Home Cooking” on the Food Network in 2002. In a statement released on Thursday Deen did not say why she decided to drop him.
Deen’s breakup with one of her key partners comes after a turbulent two weeks that have left the celebrity chef’s network of business deals in shambles. It all started within days of the public disclosure of a legal deposition in which Deen admitted under oath to having used the N-word.
The Food Network passed on renewing Deen’s contract and pulled all of her shows. Pork producer Smithfield Foods dropped Deen as a celebrity endorser. Retailers including Wal-Mart and Target said they’ll no longer sell Deen’s products and publisher Ballantine scuttled plans for her upcoming cookbook even though it was the No. 1 seller on Amazon. Even the diabetes drug company that made the much-criticized deal to hire Deen as a paid spokeswoman dumped her.
Weiner worked to turn Deen into a comfort-food queen since she was little more than a Savannah restaurant owner and self-publisher of cookbooks who earned raves for her fried chicken.
In her book “Paula Deen: It Ain’t All About the Cookin,”‘ Deen recalled meeting Weiner through TV producer Gordon Elliott, who was convinced they could turn her into a star.
“Barry and Gordon felt like there was a show somewhere inside this Paula character that could be very successful,” Deen wrote. “They probably courted Food Network for two years trying to push me at them.”
Deen also noted in her book: “Barry is affectionately known in my family as Barry Cuda. Perfect name for an agent.”
Deen’s business deals began falling apart after she was questioned under oath in May as part of a civil lawsuit filed last year by Lisa Jackson, a former manager of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House, which Deen co-owns with her brother, Bubba Hiers. Jackson says she was sexually harassed and worked in an environment rife with racial slurs and innuendo.