Gazing at the plate of food on her table, Deen told the sold-out room: “Y’all, I was afraid this was another one of those ‘trick luncheons.’ You know, where y’all get to eat and I get to work? I’m so excited that I actually get to eat at this one! I told the driver on the way over: ‘Get set to take us to The Varsity when you pick us up!’ ”
Deen was in town to sign copies of her latest book, “Paula Deen’s The Deen Family Cookbook” (Simon & Schuster, $26), which hit stores Tuesday.
The book’s family-centric recipes are perfect for today’s tough economic times.
Deen told us the country’s current financial problems and job losses are reminiscent of the aftermath of September 11 when many Food Network viewers first discovered her as they sought comfort food recipes and a much-needed laugh.
“It’s very upsetting to lose a job,” Deen told Buzz. “I went through all that in my first marriage. Maybe we can’t eat steak right now. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Through these tough times, I’m seeing families coming together, more nesting going on and people who are entertaining themselves at home. Families are getting the chance to reconnect. Besides, we’re in the South. You can get you a bag of grits for 95 cents. And there ain’t nothin’ we can’t do with a grit down here!”
The Savannah restaurateur also filled in fans on her latest projects: a brand-new rug collection, a new line of furniture coming this fall, Paula Deen seafood (”I’ve launched my own crabcakes that will have some back fin and some good claw meat in ‘em. They’ve got great flavor, and they’re affordable!”). She’s also working on a second cookbook for kids.
As she winds her way back to Savannah for the holiday weekend, her boys Jamie and Bobby Deen and her grandbaby Jack were all on her mind.
Previewed Paula: “I’ve got to get home and talk to that Easter bunny. I can’t wait to get in the kitchen with Jack. He loves to cook with his ‘Ginny.’ That’s what he calls me. I’m sure it will soon change to gimme. Isn’t that how it usually works with grandparents?”
Georgia scores ‘Last Song’
Remember that battle we told you about last week, with North Carolina and Georgia both vying to be the locale for the next Miley Cyrus film shoot? In an e-mail sent to us from Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue’s office, we were told that coastal Georgia has indeed won the bid. From June to August this summer, the aforementioned Ms. Deen might not be the top tourist draw in Savannah as Disney and the “Hannah Montana” star descend on her coastal city and other adjacent areas. “The Last Song” will bring about 250 jobs to the state.
The script is by novelist Nicholas Sparks, and Julie Anne Robinson will direct. Alas, Cyrus won’t be playing Hannah Montana, who makes her movie debut this weekend.
“I signed the 2008 Entertainment Industry Investment Act in support of our efforts to recruit film, music and digital entertainment projects to Georgia,” explained Perdue in the e-mail. “These industries are thriving and growing, boosting the state’s economy and employing thousands of Georgians.”
Producer Dara Weintraub also produced another locally filmed flick, The Clearing, which starred Robert Redford, Willem Dafoe and Helen Mirren.
Nine feature films, two television series and one television pilot were produced in Georgia in the first quarter of 2009, according to the governor’s office. Seven more feature films are slated for the state in the coming months.
Kaedy Kiely, veteran Atlanta radio host now heard on mornings at 97.1/The River, had surgery Thursday to treat breast cancer. She said it’s “the best case scenario” right now, with the doctors optimistic they got it all, though results won’t be in until next week. Then, she’ll know what type of treatment she’ll need in terms of chemo and radiation.
She said she discovered a lump a month ago and thinks she caught it early enough.
Kiely, 49, worked at both 96rock and Z93 for more than 20 years, then was off the air for about four years until the River hired her last year.
You can send her a note through the WSB Web site, where the station wrote the following:
“Our beloved morning host Kaedy Kiely announced on her show Thursday Morning that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer as she left for her lumpectomy.
“Kaedy has been a friend to many and a familiar voice on the Atlanta airwaves for years and we all just want to wish her well through this personal issue that she wanted to share with all of us.
“Kaedy wanted to share this info to all River listeners, men and woman alike, the importance of pre-screening and annual check ups with your physician. Cancer affects many so take the precautions you can to treat and prevent this huge health issue.”
Actor Joel Grey is 77. Actress Louise Lasser is 70. Actor Peter Riegert is 62. Actor Meshach Taylor (”Designing Women,” ”Dave’s World”) is 62. Country singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale is 52. Rapper David Banner is 35. Drummer Chris Gaylor of All-American Rejects is 30. Singer Joss Stone is 22.
Contributing: Rodney Ho and news services.
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