Paula Deen, eyeing comeback, gets funding from deep-pocketed investor

Paula Deen is ready to jump-start her stalled career. Paula Deen Ventures, the company behind the former Food Network star's enterprise of cookware, restaurants and media, is gaining steam after receiving a multimillion-dollar investment.

Najafi Media, an affiliate of Najafi Cos., a private investment firm with stakes in the Phoenix Suns basketball team and other companies, announced a new partnership with Deen along with an investment of $75 million to $100 million in her company.

“All of us at Najafi Cos. have a deep respect for the hard work, unique content and quality products which Paula has built around her brand,” Jahm Najafi, founder and CEO of Najafi Cos., said in a statement. "We know that the enterprise will be successful and valuable, as Paula and her team continue to bring quality products and experiences to her loyal fan base; and now we have a proven management team in place to build and lead the organization."
In addition to the investment, Steven Nanula, who has worked as lead developer for the Paula Deen Food Co. for the past two years, was appointed chief executive of Paula Deen Ventures. 

Deen hasn't secured any major TV deals yet, but is reported to be in contact with some networks and other potential partners. That list of potential partners does not include the Food Network, according to a Food Network spokeswoman.

Deen was once considered the reigning queen of Southern cuisine on TV, made famous by her drawl and her often heavy use of butter and mayonnaise. Despite the scandal that forced her off the Food Network, Deen's fans have remained loyal on social media. Fans frequently leave comments on her Facebook page saying they miss her show and condemning her "Today" show interview as unfair.

Throngs of screaming fans greeted Deen at a recent Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show in Houston.

Do you think it's time for a Paula Deen comeback? Would you watch a new Paula Deen TV show? Let us know in the comments below.

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