Rumors had been swirling (twirling? tangoing?) that Paula Deen, celebrity chef and treasurer of the Paula Deen Comeback Association, would be a contestant on Season 21 of ABC’s celebrity dance competition Dancing With the Stars. This morning, Good Morning America confirmed that Deen will, indeed, partner with dance pro Louis van Amstel and go for the gold.
When Deen revealed herself from behind a secret curtain, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos noted that she’s had a “tough couple of years” and asked Deen what she hoped to get out of this.
“Well, George, there’s several things,” Deen said. “This is the first time in several years where I felt like my weight would allow me to do something like this.” A very animated Deen went on to say that she hoped to make “a bunch of new friends” and “lose some weight.”
A word on Paula Deen.
The cookbook author and television host, known for her southern cooking and love of butter, fell from grace in 2013 when a former employee filed a discrimination lawsuit against Deen and Deen’s brother, Bubba Hiers. The employee alleged, among other things, that Deen had used racist language in front of her. Though the case was dismissed, Deen admitted in her deposition that she had used the n-word in the past. The fallout from the event included the loss of several endorsement deals and her Food Network contract.
A word on DWTS.
DWTS has one of the most impressive and wackadoo cast lists of any show in the history of American television. (Take a gander, if you haven’t recently.) Evander Holyfield, Joey Lawrence, Leeza Gibbons, Wayne Newton, Michael Bolton, and Bristol Palin have something in common because of this program. The show has also become something of an image rehabilitation center for celebs who have lost their way. (See: Gary Busey, also signed up for Season 21.)
Other celebrities Deen will compete against this season include Bindi Irwin, Chaka Khan, and Nick Carter.
This news comes on the heels (tap shoes? ballet slippers?) that Deen is releasing a cookbook on September 8. It happens to be the same day Deen’s former employee Dora Charles, who says she witnessed racism and suffered low wages at Deen’s restaurant the Lady & Sons, is releasing one.
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