Few reality show “stars” have reached the level of stardom as Jon and Kate Gosselin and their brood of eight children, including a pair of twins, and a set of sextuplets. In the past six months, the Gosselins have been in the public eye more for their off-camera antics than for their TLC show Jon & Kate Plus 8. Beginning with their much-publicized divorce, Jon and Kate have set off a veritable firestorm of press coverage revolving mostly around Jon’s various relationships and the two firing public barbs at one another through various media outlets.

All of the drama led the family’s public following to the question: What does this mean for the future of the show? (The public has also continued to feel entitled to weigh in on Jon and Kate’s every move. Everyone, it seems, has an opinion about the Gosselins.)

Since the divorce, TLC has continued to produce the show, with Jon and Kate taking their separate turns with the children. Then, it was announced that Jon would be dropped and the show would simply become Kate Plus 8. After the announcement, Jon suddenly decided that doing the show was no longer in the best interest of the children. Now, TLC has filed a lawsuit against Jon for breach of contract due to Jon’s actions resulting in a production halt for the show.

According to the complaint, “TLC exercised its editorial discretion” pursuant to the contract between the network and the Gosselins, to relaunch the program without Jon as a major focus, due to Jon’s “erratic public behavior, unprofessional conduct, and social disregard for his professional obligations, among other things….” The complaint also clarified that Jon would still be a part of the show, and would remain under contract, but the focus would be on Kate as a single mother. The complaint goes on to allege that Jon effectively threatened the network by objecting publicly to the filming of his children unless they released him from the exclusivity provisions of the agreement, which would permit him to earn money from appearances other than those for TLC. According to the complaint, Jon had already breached his contract by continuously going against the exclusivity and confidentiality provisions of the agreement. TLC refused to grant him a release, saying that he would continue to be compensated by TLC.

The suit seeks compensatory damages, demands Jon return income gained from activities in breach of his contract, and mandates that he refrain from any future violations of his contract. Jon’s lawyer has countered that TLC is treating Jon like a dog by trying to keep him on a leash, violating his constitutional right to freedom of speech, and has rendered the contract null and void by dropping Jon as a focus of the show. Production of Kate Plus 8 has been suspended indefinitely.

The drama never ends. This seems to be just the next phase in the long, drawn-out Jon vs. Kate saga. Whether or not participating in the show is or is not in the best interest of the children, the timing of Jon’s decision to pull them casts suspicion on his motives. Meanwhile, Kate likely relies on the continued production of the show to maintain the family’s income. Maintaining income may be especially important given Jon’s penchant for occasionally clearing out the family bank account.

After Jessica and Nick, Britney and Kevin, the Barkers, etc., etc., it’s a wonder that anyone would want to subject their relationship to reality television. (Although certain families are allegedly willing to stage elaborate hoaxes to do just that…) Jon and Kate are simply the next couple to succumb to the pitfalls of reality television. And for whatever reason, the public remains enthralled by the drama unfolding in the Gosselin family. TLC wants to make sure it hangs on to the Gosselin profit machine (while also eliminating Jon from the equation to cut any losses his increasingly erratic behavior might bring). After all, the tabloids and major media outlets are doing their advertising for them. Any publicity is good publicity, right?

Jamie Lynn Kern

Image courtesy of Barnes & Noble

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