Paula Deen and Jimmy Carter, seen here in Plains in 2006, are teaming up for a unique fundraiser for the former president’s hometown in a few weeks. AJC FILE PHOTO
Photo: Bita Honarvar
Photo: Bita Honarvar

Wanna go to the best celebrity mashup ever?

Think of it as two large celebrity meteors colliding in one small-town galaxy.

On Saturday, Jan. 23rd, tiny Plains, Ga., will play host to an event whose title is a work of art in itself:

“Painting, Paula and a President.”

That’s Paula as in Deen and President as in Jimmy Carter. 

Painting? Well, the two southwest Georgia natives’s shared hobby serves as the backdrop for this one-of-a-kind fundraiser that anyone with as little as $500 lying around can attend. That’s how much you’ll need to claim a spot in a painting class taught by renowned Atlanta area artist James Richards, which Deen and Carter will attend. It runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes breakfast and lunch.

The celebrity chef and the former leader of the free world’s relationship goes back at least a decade. Carter cooked a couple of times on Deen’s Food Network show in the mid-2000’s, and the duo teamed up to host a dinner benefiting the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia in 2012. They’ve both been through a lot since then — Deen apologized when it came out she’d uttered racial slurs in decades past and gamely lasted a few rounds on “Dancing with the Stars” last fall. And Carter’s battle with cancer has been well documented.

But “P, P and P” is pretty much breaking the mold when it comes to celebrity mashups for a good cause. A fundraiser for two nonprofit organizations — Plains Better Hometown, which maintains the hometown of the country’s 39th president and Friends of Jimmy Carter National Historic Site , which helps support the National Park Service sites and programs in town), the class size is limited to about 50 people, making for a fairly intimate experience.

Meanwhile, anyone with as much as $2,000 lying around can book a room at the Plains Inn that Saturday night for what sounds like the world’s craziest slumber party. The “Saturday Night Sleepover” with Deen will take over all seven rooms in the historic inn that Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter helped restore over a decade ago (alas, the former first couple won’t be sleeping there that night). Each room is authentically furnished according to a different decade (word around town has Deen occupying the 1970s room) and is spacious enough to accomodate two people.

“So you and your painter friend can come and pay $1,000 apiece,” said Plains Better Hometown coordinator Ruth Sanders.

Also included in that “Saturday Night Sleepover” package is a dinner with Richards, Deen and both Carters, as well as reserved seats in the former president’s Sunday school class the next morning. (There are also two slightly more modestly priced packages available for $1,000 and $1,500, which include overnight accomodations in the gracious Historic Windsor Hotel in nearby Americus).

For more information and reservations, call Sanders at 229-824-5373 or Friends’ executive director Kim Fuller at 229-928-4825.

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