In the most recent installment of the Paula Deen saga, the celebrity chef has cut business ties with her long-time agent Barry Weiner, who helped make her a Food Network star as well as launch a media and merchandising empire.
According to The Associated Press, the New York agent who worked with Deen for more than a decade was key to putting her show Paula’s Home Cooking on the Food Network. However, in the weeks following Dean admitting under oath to using the N-word, the Food Network chose not to renew her contract, pulling all of her shows from the air. Around the same time, the 66-year-old Butter Queen was also dropped by several business partners, including Sears, Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, J.C. Penney, The Home Depot, and Smithfield Foods. Soon after, Ballantine Books, the publisher of Paula Deen’s New Testament, announced that it had cancelled publication of her upcoming cookbook despite advance purchases already establishing it as the No. 1 seller on Amazon.
In an email acquired by The Hollywood Reporter, Deen’s spokeswoman, Elana Weiss, said,”Paula Deen has separated from her agent. She and her family thank him for the tireless effort and dedication over the many years.” Deen offered no reason for her parting with Weiner, but did not blame him for her recent troubles, simply aknowledging that she “wishes him well in all future endeavors.”
“Barry and [television producer] Gordon [Elliott] felt like there was a show somewhere inside this Paula character that could be very successful,” Deen wrote in her book, Paula Deen: It Ain’t All About the Cookin’. “They probably courted Food Network for two years trying to push me at them.” Deen also recalled in her book,”Barry is affectionately known in my family as Barry Cuda. Perfect name for an agent.”
It’s yet to be determined whether Deen and “Barry Cuda” will remain friends in the wake of their fallout, but something tells me his affectionate nickname has died along with their business partnership…