Paula Deen, owner of a beloved Savannah restaurant and the author of 14 cookbooks, will appear on the NBC series “Who Do You Think You Are?” Friday at 8 p.m.
The University of Georgia’s new Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries gets a star turn in the episode, as the scene for much of the filming. Documents at the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library were used in tracing Deen’s heritage, the focus of the series. Filming took place at several sites around Georgia, including Savannah.
The show follows celebrities “as they embark on personal journeys of self-discovery to trace their family trees.”
“During each episode, one of the celebrities is taken on a surprising and deeply emotional quest into his or her family history, resulting in a compelling reality format. Each week, viewers follow some of America’s best-known celebrities into their ancestral pasts, as they uncover stories of heroism and tragedy, love and betrayal, secrets and intrigue that lie at the heart of their family history,” according to the producers.
“At the same time, ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ celebrates the twists and turns of a great nation and the people who made their way here in search of freedom and opportunity. As each celebrity discovers his or her unknown relatives – most of whom overcame hard times, the show will take viewers back through world history to expose how the lives of everyone’s collective ancestors have shaped our world today,” promotional material said.
The Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries was dedicated in February and houses the university’s three special collections: the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library; the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Award Collection; and the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies. The 115,000-square-foot structure includes a mammoth underground vault to aid in security and climate control as protection for some of the most valuable artifacts of Georgia’s cultural heritage.
Filming of the “Who Do You Think You Are?” program in both in Athens and Savannah incorporated original historical documents held by UGA’s Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Deen’s cookbooks have sold more than 8 million copies, and her bimonthly magazine has a circulation of more than 1 million. She has won a daytime Emmy award for Outstanding Lifestyle Host for “Paula’s Home Cooking” and has been nominated twice more for “Paula’s Best Dishes.”
Her restaurant breakthrough came with The Lady & Sons in Savannah, which she operates with her sons, Jamie and Bobby Deen. Paula Deen Enterprises includes a full line of cookware and dishes, assorted food products, sauces, spices and bakery goods. Emmy Award-winning actress Lisa Kudrow is executive producer of the NBC series.