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Just a few weeks after Paula Deen has come under fire for admitting to having used the N-word in the past as part of a lawsuit against her, the wheels have come undone on the Paula Deen empire. The 66-year-old celebrity chef’s contract has not been renewed at the Food Network, her line of cookbooks has been dropped by Ballantine Books, and QVC has no plans in the immediate future to put the woman back on the air. While some of the companies Deen routinely works with have stood by her, many have not, and on Thursday Deen opted to drop her longtime agent in the attempt to go in a new direction.
Up until today, Deen’s agent was Barry Weiner, a New York man who helped the 66-year-old to become a television star nearly a decade ago. It was Weiner who helped Deen to get the Food Network contract that launched her into the public eye and it was Weiner who has helped her to deal with the civil lawsuit her employee Lisa Jackson brought against her, as well as the subsequent media brouhaha that has ensued. He's clearly been her go-to man for a longtime, but that didn't keep her from firing Weiner.
Deen’s spokeswoman, Elana Weiss, sent an e-mail to Newsday stating that Weiner had been officially dropped.
"Paula Deen has separated from her agent. She and her family thank him for the tireless effort and dedication over the many years."
That seems like a cold as ice response to losing someone Deen has basically proclaimed as a member of the family over the years, including in her book Paula Deen: It Ain't All About the Cookin'. However, clearly her attempts at warmth haven’t been working, either. Late last month, Deen headed on to the set of Today to apologize to her fans about the controversy, as well as to apologize to the Today crew for missing an appearance right after the controversy broke. She's plumb out of apologies at this point, which means the celebrity chef needs to move in a new direction and that direction apparently doesn’t involve Weiner.
While Deen’s efforts to counterbalance the allegations that she is a racist who has wreaked mental harm on employees in the past have fallen on mostly deaf ears, at least where her sponsors are concerned, Deen doesn’t seem to blame Weiner for botching her image rehabilitation efforts. Instead, she’s likely hoping she will be able to move in a different direction with a different agent on board.Honestly, being let go might actually be good news for Weiner. When the going gets rough, sometime partnerships can weather through and other times it’s a lot better to just part ways. If he had stayed on, Weiner would have had an uphill battle to fight in the future, but as things stand, maybe both he and Deen will be able to find a fresh start.