For all the overwrought coverage of Deen's ouster, we haven't heard anything from the Food Network people, aside from a short statement on Friday that the popular TV cook would not have her contract renewed. Since then, Deen supporters have been going after the channel through Web postings and boycott threats (lots of luck on that one). Truth is, Paula Deen, while still having a decent following, is not the star she used to be. As the LAT's Joe Flint reports, viewership of her show "Paula's Favorite Dishes" has fallen almost 25 percent this year (a bit higher among the sought-after 25-54 demographic). It's possible that previous controversies have caught up with Deen. It's also possible that in the fickle world of food TV, Deen is simply a fading celeb. Food Network fans know that personalities come and go, with or without lawsuits. Remember Emeril? The guy was such a hit that he had his own prime time show, complete with studio audience. Well, Emeril is history. Deen had her own variety-type show in prime time - and that's gone too. Only Guy Fieri has managed to hold on - helped along, no doubt, by the road show nature of the series. Seems that viewers are drawn more to competition ("Chopped," "Iron Chef") and reality ("Restaurant Impossible") than a single performer. All of which belies the premise behind the show "The Next Food Network Star": that fame and fortune await the winning contestant. With the exception of Fieri, there's been no standout coming out of that contest. Most of the previous winners are long gone from the network lineup. Inquiring minds want to know lots more about the circumstances behind Deen's departure, but I suspect Food Network executives will want to keep their mouths shut. Details of any sort would keep the story alive, which is about the last thing they want to do.
By the way, if you're looking for a company that's being more candid about a personnel problem, check out Men's Wearhouse, which issued a statement laying out in some detail the reason it fired founder and former CEO George Zimmer. From its release:
"Mr. Zimmer had difficulty accepting the fact that Men's Wearhouse is a public company with an independent Board of Directors and that he has not been the Chief Executive Officer for two years. He advocated for significant changes that would enable him to regain control, but ultimately he was unable to convince any of the Board members or senior executives that his positions were in the best interests of employees, shareholders or the company's future.