ALBANY, Ga. -- As the national media circle the Paula Deen story like sharks who smell blood, Paula's ex-husband Jimmy Deen has found himself caught up in the frenzy, beset by desperate "leeches" looking anywhere for some new tidbit to feed tabloid nation.
"Why didn't these people want to talk to me before this happened?" Jimmy Deen, the father of Paula Deen's celebrity sons, Jamie and Bobby, said Thursday in an exclusive interview with The Albany Herald. "Now, because they're being shielded from Paula, suddenly I'm the most popular guy in town. Well, I've got nothing to say to them; what I want to say I'm telling you."
Deen said he's been besieged in the wake of the controversy surrounding his celebrity chef ex-wife, who has been dropped by the Food Network and has seen products she endorses taken from shelves at distributers such as Wal-Mart and Target. Paula Deen admitted in a deposition that she had, in the past, used the so-called "n-word" in reference to blacks.
When the deposition was made public last week, the celebrity chef found herself at the center of a mounting controversy that refuses to subside, and her substantial business empire is taking a massive hit. Fuel was added to the fire Wednesday morning when Deen gave an interview with the "Today" show's Matt Lauer. Jimmy Deen chastised Lauer for what Deen called the host's unprofessional interview tactics.
"(Lauer) wasn't interested in hearing Paula's side of the story," Jimmy Deen said. "His agenda obviously was to 'get' Paula, to try and paint a picture of her as this evil, racist woman. And that couldn't be further from the truth. I've said before, and I'll say again. Paula is not racist. We grew up and went to Albany High School during the era of integration, and we never had any kind of problem with that.
"What I would like, by God, is for Matt Lauer to turn that same question he asked Paula around on himself. I'd like for him — or anybody else on the 'Today' show — to answer that question under oath."
Jimmy Deen accused Wal-Mart and Target of "convicting Paula without a trial" and of "telling the American public that there are certain people who don't matter."
"They didn't wait to get the entire story; they immediately drew a line in the sand," Deen said of the retailers. "They passed judgment, told American shoppers that they shouldn't buy any of Paula's products. They essentially said they would dictate what products Americans should buy and the hell with what anybody else thought."
Deen said he reached the breaking point when tabloid TV and other media representatives continued to call his home while he and his wife, Therlus, were grieving over the death of his mother-in-law, Edna Luckey.
"These people didn't even have the decency to respect the fact that we were grieving over a death in our family," Deen said.
Deen said he's been in contact with Paula Deen and the couple's two sons, and they're all having difficulty dealing with the fallout from the controversy.
"Paula, Jamie and Bobby ... They're all just heartbroken," he said. "They're devastated that people have been so quick to lay blame on them based on things said by a woman (Lisa Jackson, who accused Paula Deen and her brother, Earl "Bubba" Hiers, of discrimination) whose motivation is greed and money.
"I find it interesting that this woman's original charge was sexual harassment, and when that didn't stick she started crying racism. It's also odd that this woman happens to be white. I think it's pretty clear she was just out to try and take something of somebody else's."
Despite the current uproar, Jimmy Deen said his ex-wife and their two sons will come back.
"It's going to take some time," he said. "They'll have to make some changes; you can't go from a lifestyle of $60 million a year to within three weeks seeing half of that gone and within a month the threat of the rest of it being gone and not make changes. It will be hard for them, but they're going to come through it and be better people for all this.
"These people taking shots at Paula now that she's down, they don't know her. I know her better than anyone in the world; I stood by her side while she was working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to pick herself up from nothing and become what she became. It's just not fair that everything she's worked so hard for could be taken away from her over something like this."
As for the planned Albany Paula Deen Museum, which is still in the planning stages, Jimmy Deen said that project is not in jeopardy.
"We will go forward with this project," he said. "I hope and pray the people of Albany will get behind us, help show that people can rise above something like this.
"I hope the people who love and support Paula will let their shopping habits show these companies that have removed her products that they're not going to be influenced by the media and by businesses that have condemned her before they've even heard the truth. I hope they'll go into these stores and ask for Paula Deen items, and if they don't have them I hope they'll ask why.
"Paula, Jamie, Bobby ... everyone's going to get through all this. I just ask the people to pray for us all."
[quote]...he and his wife, Therlus, were grieving over the death of his mother-in-law, Edna Luckey.
This is like something out of "Mama's Family."
Go back to the five-and-dime, Jimmy Deen.
Where are Cooter, Buford and Roscoe P Coltrane?
I can't stand that nasally "Ya'll" of hers. For that alone she should be banned for eternity from media.
[quote]"These people didn't even have the decency to respect the fact that we were grieving over a death in our family," Deen said.
If you're grieving, why are you watching The Today Show?
Jimmy doesn't get that in much of the country, the "n" word has been off-limits for 50 years, whereas in Albany, Georgia, the use is still widespread.
The whole histrionic "let him who has never said something they regret cast a stone that knocks me dead" insanity was just plain way too much.
Actually he's right on the mark about Lauer, a shitty journalist.
That ambush technique might have worked for Mike Wallace but it never works for Matt--unless the subject is half-crazed like Tommy Cruise.
I saw "ex-husband Jimmy Deen" and for a second thought she was married to the sausage guy. Then I google that and realize that not only did he spell Dean the non-hick way, but he's been dead since 2010, and was apparently a country music singer.
[quote]Actually he's right on the mark about Lauer, a shitty journalist.
And Paula's a shitty cook, so they're even.
Say what you want about Matt, but at least he is tough on the people he interviews instead of just asking the softball questions that their PR people want him to ask. It throws the person being interviewed off and they actually have to come up with something on their own rather than their prepared rehearsed answers.
Matt was a douchebag. It's his job to be neutral, but he clearly had an agenda to browbeat her because he was salty about her cancellation last week. Ask her the tough questions but don't be a bully in doing it. Fuck him.
R12 Paula, is that you girl?
[quote]Say what you want about Matt, but at least he is tough on the people he interviews instead of just asking the softball questions that their PR people want him to ask.
He only goes after celebrities and personalities. God forbid he should call out a right winger on their bullshit
[quote] I google that and realize that not only did he spell Dean the non-hick way, but he's been dead since 2010, and was apparently a country music singer.
Okay. So you never knew Jimmy Dean was a very famous country singer? Apparently not.
I genuinely did not, r15. I was born more than 10 years after his last top 40 hit according to Wikipedia, and I've never been a country fan anyway.
Matt Lauer is a fucking hypocrite!! I remember when he called, I believe Meredith Viera an "Indian Giver" during the Olympics.. Look it up folks, he's an asshole and NEVER was challenged on it. Fuck him, I hope he gets hit by a bus.
She married that cute porn star who fucked Teen Mom?
I'm a black woman and I don't give a flying f*** about what Paula Deen thinks about black people. I didn't watch her show or buy her products before this fiasco. This does not change my life one bit.
She seems too sweet of a person to be a racist though. If anything, she's just ignorant and hasn't been around enough black people.
She really needs to fire her PR team. They've failed her miserably.
I can't say I get the same vibe from her sons though. I would be surprised if their pictures aren't posted on the walls of their KKK lodge back home.
If they're used to making $60 million a year, they should be OK, Jimmy Deen!! Actually, they should be OK for the rest of their lives!!
I do applaud the companies for making a statement. What people don't realize is that this is about much more than offending black people. If a person exhibits racist behavior towards one group, there's a good chance that they feel that way about other groups, like Jews and gays, etc.
I knew her TV show was a wrap as soon as I heard about this. The Jews aren't having that!!
This is much bigger than the "N" word folks.
This is 2013. Get to know someone of another ethnic background. The exposure will enrich your life.
Today's lesson: Sh*t you said 20 years ago can destroy your whole world. Choose your words carefully.
I doubt 20 years ago was the last time Paula said the "N" word.
Seriously, who can put a time stamp on the last time they said a word.
Besides, it's more than that; it's Paula's insensitivity that bugs. What was she thinking having blacks dress up as slaves at her brother's plantation theme wedding?
What was thinking saying it's not all about color and then calling her good friend, Hollis black as the (black-colored) board behind him. "Where are you we can't see you, Hollis?"
But now, everyone is seeing Paula.
Getting Paula Dean has been a witch hunt. I do not like her, she is crude and vulgar. I eat healthy and would never eat her food anyway.
However, she has done nothing wrong.
Let's get the point. It's not about what this woman said 20 or 30 years ago. It's about her obtuseness now.
The world has changed. It is not acceptable to make jokes about her aide who is "black as a board," and it's not acceptable to find a "plantation wedding with black waiters in white jackets" cute.
At best, she is out of touch. Has she been comatose for the past 50 years?
Ultimately, it's about her because she hired the attorney who let her give the deposition that started this -- and she hired the PR team that has its head so far up its ass that it can't convince her to give a heartfelt apology that is not all about her feeling sorry for herself.
When Matt shaved his head, he became a serious journalist.
I feel really bad for her now. She is clearly the subject of a witchhunt. I'm just sending good vibes her way.
Well Jimmy as a black person that grew up in Albany
And went to Dougherty High I have to say I don't think
She is eather. However you are wrong about going to
Integrated schools. They did not integrate in Albany until
1970. Which by that time she would have been 23 yrs old
[quote]Which by that time she would have been 23 yrs old
Maybe she was held back. Many, many times.
She's a fat, smelly cunt.
She got away with not being able to cook for so long, I guess she thought she could get away with anything.
Who among you hasn't used the "N" word? Raise your hands to God!
Y'all want some deep-fried butter?
R22, You are full of shit.It most certainly is about what she said 20 or 30 years ago. You have no right to fluff that off. There is no excuse for whites to ever use the N word. Ever. We will not tolerate it. She paid handsomely for it. I for one laughed my ass off. We don't play. So suck on that lez.