Embattled celebrity chef Paula Deen skipped her scheduled appearance on the "Today" show Friday morning.
The NBC program had been promoting an exclusive, live interview with the Food Network star upon her controversial admission of using racial slurs.
At the start of the program, Matt Lauer shared, "Paula Deen was scheduled to do an interview with us this morning, live in our studio, but we just found out, she's a no show." The show host added that he had spoken to Deen on the phone Thursday night ahead of her appearance. "She has not called us at all this morning," said Lauer, although the studio did get in touch with Deen's rep who said the chef was "exhausted." Lauer added, "Simply said they believe she is in the hotel but she has not confirmed anything other than she is not here."
With all eyes on Deen, the interview was meant to be a "no-holds barred" conversation. Lauer tweeted later, "Hoping to get more info on the Paula Deen situation soon. Very confusing."
A former employee filed a discrimination lawsuit in March 2012 against Deen, alleging that she had been sexually harassed in a "hostile" environment. The controversy bubbled over this week after a court deposition conducted in May was filed Monday. In it, the attorney asked Deen if she had ever used the N-word. "Yes, of course," Deen disclosed. "It's been a very long time."
The 66-year-old added that despite her use of the slur, she does not promote hate under any circumstances. "Bubba and I, neither one of us, care what the color of your skin is" or what gender a person is, she disclosed. "It's what's in your heart and in your head that matters to us."
"I can't, myself, determine what offends another person," the culinary star added.
Deen is expected is release a video statement "shortly," she shared on Twitter at noon.