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'Jon & Kate Plus 8' stars to divorce

June 22, 2009 |  9:04 pm
JON_KATE_AP
Jon and Kate ready to litigate? After months of speculation, the famed reality couple from TLC's "Jon & Kate Plus 8" is heading to divorce court. 

In a much-promoted episode of the hit series Monday night, Jon and Kate Gosselin, the parents of eight children, announced in separate interviews they were separating; seconds later, text appeared on a black screen to add that the couple had decided to "legally dissolve" their 10-year marriage. The children will stay in the house, the couple said, and Jon and Kate will switch off living there. 

And the show, apparently, will go on. TLC executives declined to comment Monday, but the Gosselins had committed to a full season of 40 episodes and indicated they would continue allowing camera crews access to film the family's life, just not with Mom and Dad there together.

The announcement was hardly a surprise. Viewers of the 2-year-old series had seen the couple's relationship deteriorate recently, and even people who don't watch have been exposed to their problems through an endless stream of headlines -- "Caught With Other Woman" and "Inside Jon's Prison" -- in the tabloid and celebrity media.

Monday's episode opened with the delivery of playhouses for the children. But tensions between the couple were evident -- even with something as simple as placement of the houses. More than 30 minutes passed, however, before the status of their marriage was addressed. 

"Kate and I have decided to separate," Jon said, sitting alone on the couch.

"I was too passive," Jon said of their relationship. "I just . . . went along with everything. Now I finally stood up on my own two feet and I'm proud of myself."

Kate offered her own outlook: "It's very uncomfortable at this point because Jon has a lot of anger towards me and I would love to discuss it with him but he won't talk to me," she said. Before the recent strife, they were just a couple trying to manage a set of twins and rambunctious sextuplets. The combination of his cool and calm demeanor and her sometimes controlling and overly organized personality were first seen on the one-hour special "Surviving Sextuplets and Twins" on Discovery Health in 2006. Its success eventually led to the TLC series. It centered mostly on the couple's home life in Pennsylvania and the idiosyncrasies involved with raising a gaggle of children. 

But with the success came their indoctrination into the tabloid swamp. And as the show entered its fifth season in May, the lens has focused less on the kiddie chaos and more on the turbulent marriage. 

Both Jon and Kate have been plagued by rumors of infidelity in recent weeks -- he with a 23-year-old teacher and she with her bodyguard. Added to the turmoil was an investigation by the Pennsylvania Labor Department into the show's possible violation of child labor laws, an allegation TLC has denied. 

When the show returned May 25 -- after dozens of tabloid covers, blurbs on blogs and snippets on TV gossip shows documenting the couple's woes -- viewers tuned in. 

The season premiere drew 9.8 million viewers, more than twice as many as had watched the fourth-season finale. But ratings for subsequent episodes have cooled, with last week's installment attracting only 2.9 million viewers.

--Yvonne Villarreal

Photo credit: AP / TLC
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