Pork & Deen: A Problem Pairing?

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Will Paula Deen be the next Kathie Lee Gifford? When the Food Network's Southern belle comes to the Smithsonian tonight, union organizers at the world's largest pork plant will be there to protest.

In September, Deen signed an endorsement deal with Smithfield Foods, which makes her a high-profile target for workers at the company's Tar Heel, N.C., facility. Former senator John Edwards and actor Danny Glover have already called for increased safety measures at the plant, but Deen hasn't given her support to the decade-long effort. So two workers, Fran Rogers and Lenore Bailey, have tickets for tonight's sold-out book reading at the Museum of National History and will ask her to meet with plant workers.

Gene Bruskin, director of the campaign to unionize the plant, said he believes Deen isn't aware of safety concerns and he hopes she'll become an advocate like Gifford, who waged a public campaign against sweatshops after it became known that children made her clothing line. "This is a chance for her to do the right thing," said Bruskin, adding that protesters -- out of respect for Deen -- will hold a "quiet vigil" at the museum.

In a statement yesterday, Deen said she partnered with Smithfield because it "shared my family values and traditions." Publicist Nancy Assuncao said organizers are trying to drag Deen into the middle of a company-employee dispute: "This is a corporate issue and something that should be resolved between the two parties."

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

  • Joe Frazier, lunching on crab cake, mac-and-cheese and Heineken at Indigo Landing in Alexandria on Monday. The former world heavyweight champ (in town to visit friends, according to his rep) signed autographs for fans.
  • Former DeMatha star Keith Bogans and his Orlando Magic teammate Jameer Nelson lunching at Nathans in Georgetown yesterday ahead of last night's game against the Wizards. The men, both in sleek warm-up suits, crammed themselves into a small bar table to dine on steamed mussels, grilled calamari salad and jerk chicken. Oh, and two orders of sliders (in all, six mini-burgers and fries).
  • Grrr. Lookin' Good Enough to Eat!

    So why was D.C. United's Bobby Boswell half-naked and covered in chocolate? To do his part for the Heart of America Foundation's "Sweet Charity" party Monday at the Mandarin Oriental, where everyone ate dessert for dinner, and pastry chefs covered celebrity models in all forms of candy fashion. A bare-chested Boswell, dressed as a tiger with chocolate whiskers and stripes, walked down the runway and sheepishly swiped his claws for the crowd; the Wizards' 6-11 center Calvin Booth looked slightly less mortified in a sugar wizard's hat and robe adorned with chocolate stars.

    THIS JUST IN . . .

  • John Edwards's campaign spent $800 for the presidential candidate to get two haircuts from a Beverly Hills celebrity stylist, Joseph Torrenueva, the Associated Press reports. Federal election filings also show Edwards spent $225 at a salon in Manchester, N.H., and $250 at another in Dubuque, Iowa. Wait: You can spend that much in Dubuque?
  • Larry Birkhead capped off his vindicated-daddy week with the now-traditional celebrity ritual of selling baby photos to a glossy mag, or who knows, maybe giving them in return for a charity donation -- OK! magazine would not divulge. Little Dannielynn (now 7 months) really does look like him, huh?
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