ATLANTA, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Friends and colleagues of Paula Deen speak out in support of the embattled celebrity chef in an upcoming edition of "E! True Hollywood Story."
"The improbable life of Paula Deen is a rags-to-riches tale of a broke, divorced mother of two who carved out a multimillion-dollar empire as America's southern sweetheart, only to see it all fall apart amidst a national scandal ignited by a lawsuit," said a synopsis released Monday. "Compelling interviews from friends and family members follow her ascent to the throne as the undisputed Queen of Southern Cuisine. From her humble beginnings in Albany, Ga., to her 20-year bout with agoraphobia, to her remarkable rise as the hottest restaurateur in Savannah and her surprising 13-year run as Food Network sensation, we'll reveal Paula's path to beloved pop culture icon. Additionally, commentary from legal and public relations experts will help examine Paula Deen's shocking and abrupt fall from grace."
Deen, 66, admitted this year in a deposition for a lawsuit she used the N-word, but later clarified it had been years ago and in reference to an African-American man who robbed her at gunpoint.
The confession sparked a media firestorm and, although Deen apologized for her behavior and insisted she is not a racist, she was fired by the Food Network and lost numerous product endorsement deals.
"The media sensed there was something blubbery and bleeding and vulnerable in the water. And it attacked," Allen Salkin, author of "From Scratch: Inside the Food Network," said in the E! special.
"The African-American community who were vilifying her have come back to say to me, 'She did not deserve what's happened to her.' All of us have said things that we regret," added the Rev. Dr. Leonard Small.
"This woman has endured and conquered more adversity that most people had ever imagined possible, and my money's always on Paula," said Gordon Elliott, a producer on "Paula's Home Cooking."
"She will always have an audience. I won't be in it, but she will have an audience," Anthony Bourdain, Deen's fellow celebrity chef, said.
The program is to air Oct. 14.