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Paula Deen loves salsa ... just not salsa dancing.

A Dancing With the Stars source says the former Food Network star, 66, was in fact courted by the ABC show, but turned down an offer to compete this fall.

"The dance floor is not the appropriate forum for her," explains a source, though it's unclear why, as it's one of the easiest and best PR boosts around.

DWTS co-host Tom Bergeron hopes she'll reconsider, since, "We've seen career resurgences after the show. People go, 'I remember why I love that person!'"

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Oprah Winfrey befriended Paula Deen in early 2012 and even spent a night at Deen's Georgia home, where she conducted a wide-ranging interview.

Over a year later, in a deposition for a lawsuit, Deen admitted using racial slurs in the past, a revelation that rankled many, including her friend.

Until now, Winfrey had remained silent on her friend's controversy, but addressed it this week during a sit-down of her own for her new film The Butler.

"In the very first days I tried to reach her and then I decided to stay out of it as I saw it blowing up," Winfrey told ET this week. "In time she will be fine."

"For me, it all just felt kind of sad."

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A New York man accused of trying to extort money from embattled celebrity chef Paula Deen has agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors, records show.

Records filed in U.S. District Court in Savannah, Ga., indicate Thomas George Paculis, 62, signed a plea agreement with prosecutors last week.

He is scheduled to appear before a judge Friday for a change-of-plea hearing.

Paculis of Newfield, N.Y., pleaded not guilty to the accusations last month.

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Tim Allen, of all people, is weighing in on the Paula Deen scandal, and raising eyebrows himself with some controversial comments about racism.

In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Allen said he believes "politically correct" phrases to be more egregious than the actual slur at times.

"[The phrase] 'the N-word' is worse to me than n--ger," he said.

  • Tim Allen Photograph
  • Paula Deen Pleads

Allen, 60, said the toned-down phrase's very existence runs counter to how he thinks people should tackle such an emotionally charged topic.

"You want to take the power away from that word so that no one is offended by it," the comedian said of the racial slur that Deen admitted using.

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She's been dropped by corporate partners left and right, but a two-year quest to dedicate a Paula Deen museum in Albany, Georgia, is apparently still underway.

Celebrity Chef

Business woman BJ Fletcher has been working with the Deens and the city to move Paula's childhood to one of two downtown locations for the museum.

"Well, if you think about it, when visitors come, the first thing they do is they come to the Visitor's Bureau," she said of the potential Albany attraction.

"The Riverfront Bar-be-que, Ice Cream Scoops, Flint Riverquarium, et cetera. And it's be cool to sort of sandwich it right in the middle of all of that."

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Paula Deen steadfastly denies a new report that she once made an African-American employee dress up like Aunt Jemima, claiming it's a total fabrication.

Deen and Dora

The woman behind the story, Dora Charles, ran Deen's kitchens for 22 years and helped open her famous Lady & Sons restaurant in Georgia.

Charles told the New York Times that Paula Deen using racial slurs - which Paula recently admitted doing, vaguely, in the past - was the least of it.

The celebrity chef wanted to dress up her employees as humiliating stereotypes, and tried to make her ring a dinner bell for restaurant customers.

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Paula Deen has been laying low following her now-infamous racism scandal, which saw Food Network axe her show and her biggest sponsors cut ties with her.

At least one star wants to boost her comeback, however.

Deen of Cookin'

Dancing With the Stars' Cheryl Burke says Deen would make a great contestant, and that coming on board the ABC hit would help her image rehab.

“I think that you'd probably see a different side of her and I think she would be a great addition to the cast,” the pro ballroom dancer told ET Canada.

“Doing something light and fun would be good for her.”

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The infamous video of Paula Deen openly admitting to using the n-word in a deposition will never see the light of day, now that a judge ordered it sealed.

Deen made the admission in the lawsuit filed by one of her ex-employees, Lisa Jackson, who her Paula of promoting a racist, sexist work environment.

This was the event that triggered Paula's epic self-destruction, with Food Network firing her and at least a half dozen more business partners bailing ASAP.

The video is described as "colorful," but it's been sealed.

Paula D.

Paula Deen, obviously concerned that someone would leak the deposition video to the media, filed legal papers asking the judge to block its release.

Two points worth nothing:

  1. While Deen admitted using racial slurs in the past, she denies all of Lisa Jackson's allegations, while saying her entire basis for suing is a lie.
  2. It's not known who leaked her quotes from the video.

The suit is still pending.

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The drama around Paula Deen continues today as reports say she has fired her legal team, led by the firm of Oliver Maner. Deen also fired her agent last week.

Paula Deen Thinner

Maner was defending her against a civil lawsuit filed by Lisa Jackson, a former manager of Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House that Deen co-owns.

A source close to Deen says "she and her team decided the previous attorneys were out of their depth," so she hired a replacement, Grace Speights.

The Washington, D.C.-based partner in Morgan Lewis's Labor and Employment practice brings "one of the top labor firms in the country," says the source.

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Officials from the FBI arrested a man in NYC Friday morning after he allegedly tried to extort $250,000 from embattled celebrity chef Paula Deen.

He threatened to release "true and damning" statements made by Deen unless she paid up, according to a federal criminal complaint filed in Georgia.

Paula Deen Image

Deen's attorney went immediately to the FBI after she received both an email and follow up phone call from a man named Thomas Paculis.

The complaint claims Paculis threatened to go public with information he claimed with bring hardship and financial ruin to Paula Deen.

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