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TLC readies 'Sister Wives,' a reality show about a polygamist family

August 5, 2010 |  3:43 pm

Get ready for the reality version of "Big Love."

TLC, the cable network behind hits " Jon & Kate Plus 8" and "19 Kids and Counting," is hoping to strike ratings gold again with "Sister Wives" -- a show about another unusual family.

This time, TLC is zooming in on a polygamist family in Utah. The show will premiere on Sept. 26.

Much like the HBO drama "Big Love," which follows a man and his three wives, "Sister Wives" is about Kody and his wives Meri, Janelle and Christine and their 13 kids.

Unlike "Big Love's" Bill Henrickson though, Kody is looking to add to his family by taking on a fourth wife, Robyn, who is several years younger than his current wives and has three children of her own.

For TLC, "Sister Wives" will probably generate some controversy, but the network is no stranger to that. Besides its shows about the now-divorced Jon and Kate Gosselin, TLC has been getting some heat for "Sarah Palin's Alaska," a documentary series featuring the former vice presidential candidate that is expected to premiere later this year.

"We've never shrunk from a unique opportunity," said TLC President Eileen O'Neill. TLC has ordered seven episodes of the series and has an option to produce more if the ratings merit it.

Although the show features several young children, O'Neill said the kids were brought into discussions with Kody and his wives and that going forward with a show was a "thoughtful decision considered over time."

As for the motivations of the family in "Sister Wives," O'Neill said they are seeking to change the secrecy of their situation and are "looking for understanding."

"Sister Wives" is being produced by Figure 8 Films, the same company behind "Jon & Kate Plus 8." O'Neill said the network had not necessarily been in the market for a show about polygamy but once they saw footage of Kody and his clan, the network jumped.

TLC gets the most attention for its shows about unusual families, but it also has a strong roster of programs about cooking, including "Cake Boss" and the brand new "DC Cupcakes." The fading interest in Kate Gosselin and her kids has not hurt TLC yet, as its overall ratings this year are up in viewers and among women, its primary demographic.

-- Joe Flint

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