Former Food Network chef Paula Deen, whose career suffered a setback last year after she admitted using a racial epithet, appears to be back on track with the news that she is launching her own digital network, the Paula Deen Network.
E! News reports that Deen's company, Paula Deen Ventures, announced the venture today. "Expected to launch in September 2014, the interactive digital site will give viewers access to Deen and her famous Southern home cooking via their computers, smartphones and tablets," the story reports.
In a statement, Deen said: "Guess who's going digital, y'all! I'm so excited about my new online Network and can't wait to show everyone what we've been working on. We're going to have so much fun being together and cooking up some wonderful new and classic dishes. Y'all can get my recipes, tips and cooking anytime you want — this is for you. I can't wait to crank up the oven and get cooking for the people I love: my family, my friends and my fans!"
The E! report adds: "Production on the new network actually began in mid-May at Deen's Savannah, Ga., studio, with a set that can host a live studio audience. Plus, Deen will welcome special guests, including her husband, Michael Groover, and her sons, Jamie and Bobby Dean. Gordon Elliot, Deen's longtime producer and the creator of ABC's 'The Chew,' is reteaming with the chef for the new venture, which will feature shows with themes such as '20-Minute meals' and 'Paula Cooking Light,' as well as Southern lifestyle segments."
Said Elliot: "She was always bigger than a 30-minute television show and now she has the perfect medium to share her cooking, her personality and her life with fans anytime they want to watch. Whether it's a quick delicious dinner or a family feast with games and guests, she can do it all — when and how her fans want it."
The story notes: "The announcement of the Paula Deen Network is just the latest step in the embattled chef's comeback after her career was tarnished in 2013 after Deen admitted to using the N-word, [prompting] the Food Network to quickly pull the plug on her long-running shows, including 'Paula's Home Cooking' and 'Paula's Best Dishes,' and several sponsors, the biggest being Walmart, to sever ties with the 67-year-old."
Paula Deen Ventures CEO Steven Nanula noted in a statement: "While Paula had several offers to return to broadcast television, she ultimately decided to launch the Paula Deen Network because it gives her a greater level of direct access to her millions of fans when it is convenient for them. In addition, Paula will enjoy full creative control of the shows, recipes and content, and be able to give her fans exactly what they love most about her. With 4.2 million fans on Facebook and 1.24 million followers on Twitter, it was clear to us that an interactive digital network was the way to go."