Matt Lauer said Paula Deen abruptly canceled a "Today" show interview Friday in which she would have addressed her admission in a depsition last month that she has used the N word in the past.
Lauer said on the air that the Food Network star had agreed to a discussion with no limits on questions, but that her representatives canceled before the show. "We started to hear from her people that she is exhausted," he said.
Al Roker added that Deen was a "friend of the show," and that he hoped she would reconsider because she "needs to address this."
Deen, 66, and her brother are being sued by a former employee at their Savannah, Ga., restaurant who claims Deen's brother subjected her to sexist, racist and violent behavior. She accused Deen of using the N word as recently as in 2007, while discussing an idea for a "plantation"-style wedding.
Deen denied using the word then, but conceded that she has used it in the past: Once to refer to a man who held her at gunpoint, and to recount conversations between African-Americans who used the word.
But she said in the deposition that times have changed and she no longer uses the word. Her representatives said in a statement Thursday that her use of it in the past was the result of growing up in the South 60 years ago.
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