UPDATE: Paula Deen Has Hired ‘Scandal’ Inspiration Judy Smith For PR Help, Ends Three Big Business Relationships

June 26, 2013  |  

Media reports say Paula Deen has hired Judy Smith, the inspiration for Scandal‘s Olivia Pope, for some much-needed public relations help. If anyone needs a fixer, it’s Paula.

US Weekly has a source who says Deen has been “making desperate calls to crisis PR firms” looking for PR help. The New York Post first reported that she settled on Judy Smith who has counted Monica Lewinsky and Michael Vick among her past clients. Ad Age reports that Deen’s team was in touch with Smith on Friday, after cancelling on the Today show. The mag suspects that today’s appearance on the Today show was the first piece of advice offered by Smith.

“Smith & Co. will likely try to focus attention on the business partners that have stuck by Ms. Deen so far, including Novo Nordisk, maker of the diabetes treatment Victoza; Springer Mountain Chicken; Landies Candies; and Tasty Blend Foods,” Ad Age says. Tasty Blend even released a statement, the magazine reports, that says they’re “pleased” with the Today interview,  and “personally endorse” her and “what she stands for.” Landies Candies echoed the statement. Random House, which was scheduled to publish Deen’s latest book this fall, says they continue to monitor the situation, but plans are still in place.

Though some companies are sticking with Deen (and she thanked them this morning during her interview), the fallout continues. Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation, which houses Deen’s restaurants in its casinos, has cut ties with the chef. Her restaurants are located in four casinos: Horseshoe Southern Indiana, Harrah’s Tunica in Mississippi, Harrah’s Joliet in Illinois and Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina. The company is closing those restaurants and will be rebranding them in the coming months. In a statement, Caesar’s said it was “in the best interests” of both sides not to renew their partnership.

Wal-Mart has also announced that they are cutting ties with Deen, saying the company will not place “any new orders” for her products “beyond those already committed,” said the company’s spokesperson. The company has been purchasing Deen-branded products since 2011.

And Home Depot has decided to stop selling Deen’s merchandise in its kitchen department. Will more companies join the list?

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