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UPDATE: After standing up Matt Lauer, embattled Food Network chef Paula Deen is addressing her N-word controversy in a video statement that later disappeared from the star’s YouTube page.
A saved version is below; in a later, less polished video, Deen told viewers “I want people to understand that my family and I are not the kind of people that the press is wanting to say we are.”
“I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I’ve done,” she said. “I want to learn and grow from this. … Inappropriate hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable. I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way. But I beg you, my children, my team, my fans, my partners, I beg for your forgiveness. Please forgive me for the mistakes that I’ve made.”
Deen blew off her planned interview with Lauer, a no-nonsense and deceptively tough interviewer, that was to air exclusively on Friday’s edition of the Today show. But just before the 7 a.m. air time, her PR team reached out to the NBC morning program, explaining that Deen was “exhausted” and she would not be showing up.
The celebrity chef, who had flown into New York Thursday night for the occasion, was apparently holed up in her hotel, opting to bypass a grilling from Lauer and address the controversy of her use of racial slurs in a controlled setting.
In a deposition for her current discrimination lawsuit, in which the 66-year-old and her brother Bubba Heirs are being sued by a former employee, Deen admitted to using the slur in the past, but said she wouldn’t use it today.
Representatives for Deen and The Food Network did not respond to The Hollywood Reporter‘s request for comment on her decision to pull out of the Lauer interview.
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