Category: Jon & Kate

A Times investigation finds few legal safeguards for kids on reality TV shows


After a month-long public records investigation, Times staff writers Matea Gold and Richard Verrier found that dozens of children are appearing on reality television shows without legal safeguards because of widespread confusion among state regulators about how to classify the shows.

In its examination of some of the most visible series featuring children under 16, The Times found that a majority had not obtained work permits to employ minors — including TLC's "19 Kids and Counting," WE TV's "Raising Sextuplets" and the entire "Real Housewives" franchise on Bravo.

Because producers say that the kids on their programs are participants, not employees, child labor laws are rarely applied. As a result, for the vast majority of these shows, there are no state-mandated instructors or union representatives on set to limit the number of hours the children are on camera, to make sure they get meal breaks and go to school, or to prevent exposure to dangerous situations. Most reality show children are not guaranteed that they will be compensated or that any money they do earn will be set aside for them.

After inquires from The Times, state agencies in California, Florida, Georgia and Virginia are looking into whether production companies violated child labor laws while filming in their states.

Read the full story here: Reality TV kids don't have a legal safety net

-- Matea Gold

Photo: Jim Bob Duggar, who appears with his family on TLC's "19 Kids And Counting," told The Times that they do not consider the filming work. Credit: TLC

Pilot Season: First look at CBS' 2010 drama pilots

There's an adage about writing that advises those wanting to communicate through the written word to write what they know. This pilot season, CBS, the network that turned its fortunes on many successful crime procedurals, is sticking to that motto. Of the network's 11 drama pilots, only two do not involve any crime- solving. One of those is a medical show, and the other is a story probably inspired by the public fascination with Kate and Jon Gosselin and/or Octomom.

Getprev-6 But let's begin with the nine shows that involve crime fighters, lawyers, and victims. The first is a "Criminal Minds" spinoff that will be introduced on the mother ship this season as a two-hour episode. Written by Chris Mundy ("Criminal Minds"), it stars Forest Whitaker, Matt Ryan, Michael Kelly, Beau Garrett and Jason Wiles. In the hands of the original's writing and executive producing team, and with Whitaker (pictured right) at the forefront (did you see him play a cop on "The Shield?"), this could be another gold star for CBS.

One spinoff in the mix, why not add a remake? "Hawaii Five-O" 2.0 is coming our way, with Daniel Dae Kim ("Lost") and Alex O'Loughlin ("Moonlight" and "Three Rivers") in the roles of Chin Ho Kelly and Steve McGarrett. Taryn Manning ("Drive") also has been cast. Peter Lenkov ("CSI: New York") wrote the script, and the "Fringe" and "Alias" producing team of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman is behind it. "Lost" fans everywhere will love knowing that Kim is alive and well off the island. Well, not really off the island, because the pilot is filming in Oahu. Let's hope the third time's the charm for O'Loughlin, who is beloved by CBS President of Entertainment Nina Tassler but hasn't found a stable job on her network.

CBS also seems to be looking for the female answer to Patrick Jane (a.k.a Simon Baker on "The Mentalist") in two shows. In one untitled project, a female New York police detective who possesses the ability to remember everything excels at her job but finds her gift challenging in her personal life. It is co-written by Ed Redlich ("Shark") and John Belluci ("Revolution"), and no one has been cast yet. In "I Witness," a detective and professor uses her psycho-physiological skills to solve crimes. Rolled over from last season, this project is in the early stages with no writer or actors attached. It will be produced by Trey Calloway and Pam Veasey, both of "CSI: New York").

Two of the crime shows will delve into the family lives of crime fighters, which this season's legal drama, "The Good Wife," has achieved with aplomb because it's so much more than a show about litigators. An untitled project by Michael Dinner ("Justified," "Sons of Anarchy"), centers on an Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent who hunts down dangerous criminals while taking care of his teenage daughter, who has just reentered his life. No one has been cast yet. "Southland" writing team Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green have penned a script about a multi-generational cop family in New York. No one has been cast for that either.

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Hey TLC! Just in case you get any ideas about putting Jon Gosselin back on the air ...

Jon TLC and Jon Gosselin have settled their lawsuit, but we're hoping this doesn't mean they're friends.

Those still tracking the bloodshed in the "Jon & Kate Plus 8" saga -- and from the looks of the supermarket tabloids, there are too many of you -- will remember that TLC sued Jon for breach of contract in October.

The cable network was none too happy that Jon was taking both paying and nonpaying gigs from other TV shows and media outlets without permission and while under an exclusive contract with TLC. Gosselin countersued, claiming the network had damaged his career by preventing him from working.

Before that, Jon successfully got production on the series temporarily suspended -- after he had been fired.

But today, terms have been reached. "TLC has reached a settlement with Jon Gosselin and will be undertaking procedural steps to conclude the litigation. All terms of the settlement are confidential," reads the official statement. "The whole Gosselin family remain under contract with TLC."

That means Jon, at the very least, will have to keep his mouth shut when it comes to the news media. At worst, it means we might be seeing a whole lot more of him. Jon's lawyer Mark Heller told the Associated Press, "Sometimes litigants that kiss and make up find their relationship is much better the second time around. As Jon's attorney, I truly hope this new adventure for TLC and the Gosselins is a much more joyful journey."

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Kate Gosselin will answer viewer questions in new TLC special

Next week's regularly scheduled episode of "Jon & Kate Plus 8" will be replaced by the special "You Ask, Kate Answers," in which Kate Gosselin will answer questions submitted by the show's viewers.

A TLC spokeswoman sent us the special's official description:

As Kate takes on tough audience questions, she relives memories of the show and gives honest answers, but will Kate be shocked by some of the things the audience wants to know? Will she ever get married again?  Where does Kate see kids in 10 years? Do you wear heels all the time?  Do the kids know they’re famous?  How is it handling school homework with eight kids?

"You Ask, Kate Answers" will air Monday at 9 p.m. on TLC.

-- Denise Martin

It's not quite over yet for 'Jon & Kate Plus 8'

It now looks like Jon & Kate Gosselin are riding off into the sunset with their large brood and may never be heard from again.

Kidding! You didn't think this pair would disappear that easily, did you? 

Published reports have stated that TLC has halted production on the reality phenomenon "Jon & Kate Plus 8," after estranged dad Jon said the show was harming his kids and had his lawyers issue a cease-and-desist order.

But the reality, if you will, is a bit more complicated. Producers have for now stopped shooting footage of the couple's eight children, but they are still filming mom Kate alone. They also have previously unaired footage of Jon and the kids that will probably turn up in future episodes, according to a person close to the show. So fans may not notice much difference in the days ahead.

Beyond that, however, the future gets murky. TLC has evidently not decided whether to proceed with earlier announced plans to rebrand the show next month as "Kate Plus Eight," leading some observers to conclude that the cable channel may soon wash its hands of the whole sordid situation. A network spokeswoman declined to comment. 

Meanwhile, Jon's representative, New York attorney Mike Heller, said any filming of the show comes as news to him. "As far as I know," he wrote in an e-mail, there is "nothing being shot."

It's all a confusing mess -- which may be good news for tabloids that have feasted on the domestic drama for months. Kate is developing a solo show with TLC, as well as a talk show with a syndicated unit of Warner Bros. Jon also remains under contract to TLC, but is reportedly developing a reality-show idea with Lindsay Lohan's father, Michael Lohan, called "Divorced Dads Club."

--Scott Collins

Jon Gosselin tries to stop 'Kate Plus Eight'; production temporarily suspended [Updated]

[Updated at 12:10 p.m: Kate Gosselin released a statement through TLC, saying she was "saddened and confused" by her husband's assertions.

"Jon has never expressed any concerns to me about our children being involved in the show and, in fact, is on the record as saying he believes the show benefits our children and was taping on Friday with the kids," she said. "I check in regularly with each of the kids to be sure they want to participate in and continue with the show and will continue to do so. I do the show for my family because I believe it provides us opportunities we wouldn't otherwise have. Jon used to share that belief until as recently as the day the network announced the name change of the show and indicated that Jon would have a lesser role in the show. It appears that Jon's priority is Jon and his interests.  My priority remains our children and their well being."] 

The battle between reality show stars Jon and Kate Gosselin ratcheted up another notch today with the news that an attorney for Jon Gosselin sent TLC a cease-and-desist letter ordering the cable network to stop production on the popular docudrama about their eight children.

Earlier this week, TLC announced that the “Jon & Kate Plus Eight” series was being renamed simply “Kate Plus Eight” to accommodate the couple’s recent split. The revamped program, set to debut Nov. 2, would focus largely on Kate Gosselin’s role as a single mother. The network said that it was continuing its exclusive relationship with Jon Gosselin, who would appear on the show occasionally.

But Jon Gosselin apparently isn’t on board with that plan. His lawyer, Mark Jay Heller, told “Entertainment Tonight” that the show turned his family into “a train wreck.”

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'Jon & Kate Plus Eight' relaunches as simply 'Kate Plus Eight'

TLC announced today that its popular reality show tracking the daily lives of the large Gosselin family will return in November with husband Jon Gosselin largely out of the picture. Renamed "Kate Plus Eight," the program will focus mostly on wife Kate Gosselin's experiences as a single mother raising eight children. The change comes after the couple's very public break-up this summer.

Jon Gosselin will continue his "exclusive relationship" with the network and occasionally appear on the show, TLC said.

"Given the recent changes in the family dynamics, it only makes sense for us to refresh and recalibrate the program to keep pace with the family," TLC President and General Manager Eileen O’Neill said in a statement. "The family has evolved and we are attempting to evolve with it; we feel that Kate’s journey really resonates with our viewers."

O'Neill said that the network is also working with Kate Gosselin to develop another project for 2010.

-- Matea Gold

'Jon & Kate Plus 8' divorce episode draws record ratings

Breaking up may be hard to do, but it sure helps reel in viewers.

Monday night’s highly promoted episode of “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” in which the embattled couple announced their separation (and later divorce), lifted the show’s sinking ratings. The episode drew an impressive 10.6 million viewers and was the highest-rated “Jon & Kate Plus 8” episode ever among all key demographics, beating all other season premieres and finales. 

The episode — stuffed with excess filler in the form of crooked playhouses -- featured an epic (though not entirely surprising) announcement about the status of their relationship.

Now that the looming question surrounding their 10-year marriage has been answered, another question remains: Will fans continue to tune in now that the couple have decided to call it quits? We’ll have to wait to see … especially since TLC announced the hit reality show is taking a production break after news of their divorce Monday.  New episodes are expected to resume Aug. 3.

Six new episodes of the 40-episode season have aired to hot-and-cold ratings. May’s premiere episode drew nearly 10 million viewers but has since plunged to as low as 2.9 million viewers -- still a strong showing when compared to its previous four seasons.

-- Yvonne Villarreal

The Monitor: Jon & Kate & their crooked houses

But what will the kids say? No -- really, what will they say? As the relationship of Jon and Kate Gosselin has devolved into a frost worthy of an Edward Hopper painting, the lone bright spot of "Jon & Kate Plus 8" has been the children: 8-year-old twins Cara and Mady and the 5-year-old sextuplets, Aaden, Alexis, Collin, Hannah, Joel and Leah. The teaser bumps just before commercials invariably feature one or several of the kids saying, "Coming up next on 'Jon & Kate Plus 8!' " Especially during episodes when the Gosselins were rubbing each other raw, these three-second bits were moments of hope. Someone, at least, believed in the family's future.

So what's it going to be then? "Jon Plus 8" when he's with the kids and "Kate Plus 8" when he's not? Maybe "Jon Plus Two and Kate Plus Six"? "Once Were Gosselins"? Now that the Gosselins have formally initiated divorce proceedings, never again will the show's title trigger a sense of optimism and possibility, only a burden that was probably impossible all along. (Unless you're the Duggars, stars of another TLC megafamily docu-series, "18 Kids and Counting," in which case having children is merely an excuse for exponentially growing joy.)

Jon and Kate have regarded each other contemptuously for some time now, dating back long before they became tabloid chum. They sniped at each other, rolled their eyes, spoke ill of one another. In other words, they made for a refreshingly frank couple, too busy with their children to think too deeply about how to spiff up their love for America.

In Monday's most moving segment, the enormity of the future bore down on Kate hard. "I had half a day where I let myself fall apart and hyperventilate and sob harder than I've ever sobbed in my life," she said. "I don't really want to be alone. I don't want to do this alone."

"I was too passive," Jon insisted in explaining his need for a split. "I just let her rule the roost and do whatever she wanted to do and went along with everything and now I finally stood up on my own two feet and I'm proud of myself."

Not that "Jon & Kate Plus 8" was ever really a show about parents or parenting. And the custody-sharing arrangement that seems to have been hammered out through back channels demonstrates how true that dynamic is to life. On Monday night's episode, Jon and Kate explained that the children will remain full time in the home the Gosselins recently purchased in Pennsylvania, where Jon and Kate will alternate hands-on caretaking. (This seems to be an ingenious solution, only viable for a family that can afford, in essence, three homes, but ingenious just the same.)

After all, this is the house the children feel comfortable in, the one they can stretch out in,  the one that shields them from paparazzi. "The security, the room, the land," Jon said on Monday. "All for them."

As with so many recent episodes of "Jon & Kate," Monday's revolved around a product placement, and this time it was apt. Kids Crooked House builds structurally sound children's playhouses that appear whimsically distorted on the outside. That may be the converse of the Gosselin home, but to see Jon and Kate announce their split during an episode otherwise dedicated to the difficult labor of building safe homes for their kids was rich in irony.

Perhaps these Crooked Houses -- the kids received four -- will become refuges for the children from events in the main home, which despite the game faces Jon and Kate put on for their children has been plenty crooked for a while. "I'm tired of smiling on the outside when I'm crying on the inside," Kate said. "I've been doing that for a long time." And you're never too old -- or too young -- to learn that the things that appear weakest on the outside may well turn out to be the most solid. That understanding and more, coming up next on "Jon, Kate, 8."

-- Jon Caramanica

'Jon & Kate Plus 8' goes on production hiatus

Jon & Kate are taking a break!

TLC's hit reality show "Jon & Kate Plus 8" is taking a production break after the couple said on Monday night's show that they were separating.

The show, which follows the lives of Jon and Kate Gosselin and their brood, has become a pop culture sensation, getting TLC its best ratings ever and providing the tabloids with a steady diet of gossip. The couple have been on more than 40 magazine covers over the last two months including seven in a row on US Magazine.

TLC said next Monday would be a clip package with some new footage, but that the next all-new episode would be on Aug. 3. People close to the show say the desire to take a production break came from the network.

So far, six new episodes of the show's 40-episode order have aired. The premiere episode drew almost 10 million viewers and the show is still doing better than it had in its previous four seasons. It has also boosted the ratings of TLC's new show "Cake Boss."

Because of all the turmoil in the Gosselin's marriage, TLC does not have enough footage to put together new episodes right now as its production schedule had become very last minute. Episodes this season were often completed as late as the day of airing.

-- Joe Flint

'Jon & Kate Plus 8' stars to divorce

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."
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Jon and Kate Gosselin 'have decided to separate' (but they're getting divorced)

In a heavily hyped episode of "Jon & Kate Plus 8" tonight, Jon and Kate Gosselin, the embattled parents of eight children/tabloid stars, announced they will separate. Toward the end of the episode, however, a text chyron dispensed with euphemisms and stated plainly that their marriage is being legally dissolved.

"I just need relief now," Kate said earlier. "I need to turn the page."

Jon, in a separate interview, said: "I don't hate Kate. But I have to do what's best for me and my kids."

It was not a surprise by any means: Earlier in the day, posted an unsourced report that said that the couple had filed divorce papers in Pennsylvania, where they have lived.

Nevertheless, viewers were subjected to 34 minutes of filler and product placement before the popular TLC show finally got to it. Before then, in separate interviews, Jon and Kate made veiled allusions to their problems. Kate referred to her public persona as "very hardened, very crass, jaded maybe" but said she was trying only to protect her children.

Eventually, the floodgates opened.

Jon: "We can't be cordial with one another."

At the end of May, the Season 5 premiere confirmed what readers -- even casual ones -- of magazines such as People and Us already knew: The Gosselins' marriage was in trouble. Addressing their fame and their problems, which are inextricable, Kate said then: "Very swiftly, we turned into two different people."

That episode drew a record-breaking 9.8 million viewers for TLC. But as the weeks went on and episodes aired that had been filmed before the public admission, the ratings settled back to their average, around 2.9 million viewers.

On Monday, Kate said she would continue filming the show. Jon seemed less certain.

-- Kate Aurthur


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