In what seems to be an attempt to revamp Paula Deen’s public persona, her management team brought in Smith & Co CEO Judy Smith.
The move comes after Deen initially cancelled her appearance on “The Today Show” last Friday. Smith, who is the inspiration behind Kerry Washington’s character on ABC’s “Scandal,” and also serves as a co-executive producer and technical adviser on the show, has yet to comment.
With a new PR team in place for Deen, her interview with Matt Lauer on “The Today Show” was rescheduled and was held yesterday. During the interview, she was seen in tears while explaining that her use of the “N” word in the past came while being held at gunpoint.
Judy Smith has represented a number of celebrities facing scandals, including Michael Vick, Wesley Snipes and Kobe Bryant, according to The Inquisitr. She also represented Monica Lewinksy and Jill Kelley, the mistress of former CIA director Gen. David Petraeus. Smith previously served as Special Assistant and Deputy Press Secretary to President George H.W. Bush.
Although some people may be sympathetic towards Deen’s emotional display, the fact remains that companies such a Smithfield Foods, The Food Network and Caesars Entertainment have all separated themselves from the famous chef.
There are some business partners that have weathered the storm with Deen including Novo Nordisk. Springer Mountain Chicken, Landles Candles and Tasty Blend Foods. These loyal affiliates may likely serve as the focus for Smith & Co. when handling Deen’s brand.
“Tasty Blend Foods was very pleased with the Paula Deen interview given this morning on the Today Show,” Tasty Blend said in a statement Wednesday. “We appreciate her commitment and how she stepped up and apologized to her viewers, fans and the nation. We personally endorse Paula Deen and what she stands for. We are very saddened that she is being judged by her past, everyone has made a mistake sometime in their lives. We look forward to our continued partnership with her.”
Landies Candies President Larry Szrama also issued a letter of support. “Your interview this morning reaffirms who you really are and what you believe,” he wrote. “We count it a privilege to be your friend and business partner and look forward to sweet success in the future.”
Paula’s actions are being placed under a microscope by companies such as Random House, who are still looking to publish “Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up” this fall.
Ms. Deen also has a line of food, cookware and other products sold at national retailers across the country, including Walmart, Kmart and Target. It is not yet clear whether the retail giants will continue to sell the products.
UPDATE: Wal-Mart and Target have announced they will not be carrying Paula Deen related merchandise anymore.