A day after news surfaced that Paula Deen admitted in a video deposition to using the N-word and telling what could be interpreted as racially tinged jokes, the 66-year-old Food Network star was MIA for a scheduled interview on Today Friday morning.
Her abrupt absence didn't go over too well with co-anchor Matt Lauer, who had a slew of questions he wanted to ask Deen about the scandalous revelations resulting from a $1.2 million lawsuit filed against her by a former employee.
Instead, he gave cohost Savannah Guthrie and viewers the lowdown on what typically is never talked about on-air: the behind-the-scenes drama that ultimately led to Deen's no-show on the program that's welcomed her many times as a favorite guest in the past.
"I spoke to her late afternoon on the phone yesterday, and we talked about the fact that it would be an open and candid discussion, no holds barred," Lauer said at the start of the morning show.
Later, Matt elaborated: "She told me, Savannah, 'I don't know how to be anything but honest.' I said fine...She got on a plane, arrived in New York City last night and then we started to hear from her people that she is 'exhausted.'"
A clearly disappointed Lauer noted the author and restaurateur hasn't been heard from since.
"She has not called us at all this morning. Her publicity person and I spoke a little while ago.Simply said, they believe she is in the hotel, but she has not confirmed anything other than that she is not here right now," he said.
Weatherman Al Roker added his two cents, saying: "She's been on this show so many times. She's a friend of the show and…we hope she'll reconsider. Because she really needs to address this."
"No question about it," replied Lauer.
A rep for Deen was unavailable for comment.
However, the Emmy winner did issue a statement yesterday via her Paula Deen Enterprises clarifying her utterance of the N-word, essentially chalking it up to her Southern roots, but vehemently stressing that she does not find use of the slur to be acceptable.
(E! and Today are part of the NBCUniversal family.)