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Entries in kate plus eight (59)


Reality TV Kids Have No Legal Protection From Pedophiles

By "Former" and Polly Kahl


For the past few days the LA Times has been running a story about a registered sex offender who has been working as a casting director  He went by the name Jason James, although his real name is Jason James Murphy.  Producer JJ Abrams (Super 8, Fringe, Lost) found out about Murphy, went to Paramount, and Paramount contacted the authorities.

When Bill Blankinship, who had worked as a film editor on TLC shows including Jon & Kate Plus Eight, was arrested on October 21, 2011 for child pornography, Figure Eight attempted to minimize their association with Blankenship by stating he worked for a subcontractor.  Unlike Figure Eight, when JJ Abrams found out he had a registered sex offender working on his film, he said:  "It's shocking and it's devastating, not just as a filmmaker but as a father and someone who is entrusted to make sure that everyone I work with, especially children, are safe," Abrams said. "To think that someone like this was among us is unthinkable." 

His two CDs on Super 8 also talked to the LA Times, as did a talent agency executive. They were all shocked. No one wants to work with a registered sex offender. No one wants to send kids to an audition with a registered sex offender. 

Unlike TLC, who said nothing, Paramount is going to start background checks.  "Moving forward, we...will also conduct background checks on all freelance employees, full time and part time, who work with minors on our productions." 

Fox is conducting an internal investigation.  "We have only just learned of this information;  we take it extremely seriously and have commenced an immediate investigation." 

There is no advocacy organization for reality TV children. In the Blankinship case, Kate Gosselin's only response was to twitter that she had never heard of him. Jon Gosselin remembered meeting him several times, and hired a lawyer to find out if the NC authorities had evidence that Blankinship had footage of the children.  Jon said "Any parent would be freaked out by this."  In our opinion Jon was the only one who had a normal reaction. 

"They're just freaking out," said Anne Henry, co-founder of ParentBiz Foundation, a nonprofit support group for parents whose children work in the entertainment industry, who "spent the morning dealing with frantic parents worried that Murphy might have been alone with their children during casting sessions and could have obtained photos or videotapes of them." is calling for fingerprinting and background checks for anyone working with minors.  Paul Petersen, former child star and the director of A Minor Consideration, a non-profit organization comprised of 600 former child stars, is backing them.

It should be noted that Murphy is cooperating with the police, and so far there is no evidence that he has done anything wrong. He is being investigated but there is no known reason for an arrest thus far. 

According to the anonymous TV producer interviewed in Jon & Kate Plus Eight:  "Reality" TV & the Selling of the Gosselins, one of the advantages of producing reality TV are the lowered production costs due to not having to adhere to union rules that protect children.  And as we all know, none of the Figure 8, Discovery, or TLC crew, including crafts services or catering, had to undergo criminal background checks or child abuse clearances prior to working with the eight.  This, despite that fact that the children were often left alone in various combinations with crew members, sometimes is isolated areas such as bathrooms, bedrooms or outdoors.  As a film editor, William Blankinship had access to many hours of film of the Gosselin children.  It is unknown at this time what the film Blankenship edited contained, or if he made any of it available to his pedophile network for any of their personal use or for profit.  TLC has made no mention of instituting child abuse clearances and background checks for their employees or subcontractors who have access to children, despite the simple process and low costs involved. 

An editor on a bunch of reality shows that feature kids is arrested for child porn and there's little or no comment from anyone. Not the network, barely a comment from the producer's company, and only a tweet from Kate Gosselin, who seemed to think that because Blankenship had never met her kids in person it wasn't her problem.  For the Gosselin children, there was only the dad and a couple of bloggers. 

Todd Bridge's mother, actress Betty A. Bridges, is trying to get the unions to screen their employees. Some IA locals do - for example, sound gets background checks because they have to touch actors when they're micing them. CDs are Teamsters and so far their local is saying screening is the employer's responsibility.  Our hope is that talent agencies, SAG/AFTRA, and the CDs themselves will start putting pressure on the local to screen CDs. 

That won't matter to reality TV kids, though. Almost all basic cable reality shows are non-union.

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Article first published as Reality TV Kids Have No Legal Protection From Pedophiles on Technorati.





New Hope for Reality TV Addicts

Divorces, suicides, and other negative repercussions have shown us that while being on reality TV can be fun and financially beneficial, it can also be psychologically harmful to families and children.  Sudden fame and fortune often cause reality TV participants to think that they're actually stars, despite their lack of any actual talent.  Thanks to their senses of entitlement and narcissistic illusions that their fame will last forever, most reality TV participants have no Plan B.  Then suddenly, when their shows are over, they're propelled back into true reality where they have to give up their fancy homes, go back to regular jobs, and start living mundane lives again.  Depression and other symptoms of PTSD can result from having to integrate back into the mediocre lifestyles they recently thought were permanently behind them. 

But wait! Now there's help for former reality TV stars with no Plan B.  The Twelve Steps of AA have been modified to fit many addictions:  alcoholism, drug addictions, gambling, overeating, codependency, and more.  And now the list includes an addiction to being on reality TV.  Here are twelve recovery steps for former reality TV participants whose lights have flickered, dimmed and then inevitably sputtered out.

               The Twelve Steps of Reality TV Addiction Recovery

1. We admitted that although we thought we'd always be stars, we were ultimately powerless over the fleeting nature of fame.


2. We came to believe that powers greater than ourselves could restore us to a normal life without fame:  Cutthroat networks, declining ratings and lack of public interest.

3. Made a decision to turn our lives back over to normal pre-fame living including working a regular job, no longer expecting to be treated as though we are entitled, and ceasing pimping out our families' and children's privacy for money.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves and realized our lives, and especially our children's lives, were better without being in a reality TV show.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to other human beings the exact nature of our wrongs, specifically our previous misconceptions that infamy equals fame and that money and fame buy happiness.

6. Were entirely ready for our television networks and production companies to end our contracts.

7. Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings, or at the very least help us appreciate the depth of our superficiality and loss of basic human values.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all, including ourselves.  (In some cases this step is expected to take the longest.)

9. Made direct amends to such people without exception, because to do so would heal our relationships with them. 

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.  (This step is lifelong and ongoing, particularly in some cases.)

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to educate ourselves about the realities of “reality” TV and the entertainment business, praying only for knowledge of how it has harmed our loved ones and how we may recover and heal together. 

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others exploited by reality TV and to practice these principles in all our personal and professional affairs.


God, grant them the serenity to accept that they are not, never have been and never will be "stahs," the courage to go back to living as normal citizens, and the humble and gracious wisdom to know the difference.   

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Article first published as The 12 Steps of Reality TV Addiction Recovery on Technorati.

 Thanks to friend and Internet neighbor Mickey Mckean for the idea for this entry.

 Follow Polly as WernyGal on Twitter.


Kate Gosselin's Driving Violations Catching Up With Her?

     Kate Gosselin's pleaded guilty by mail and paid her August 9th speeding ticket fine of $174.00. In that offense she was charged by state police in Brecknock Township, Lancaster County, with driving 88 miles per hour in a 65 mile per hour zone.
     Gosselin has a history of traffic violations.
     On Oct. 30, 2009, she was cited for a similar incident in Adams County, PA in which she was reportedly doing 70 miles per hour in a 55 miles per hour zone. Her eight children were in the SUV at the time. She pleaded guilty and paid another fine.
     On Feb. 26, 2010, Kate was pulled over by state police based in Gettysburg after she was speeding at 73 miles per hour in a 55-mph zone. That case was also settled with a fine of about $155.
     Then there's that blind item regarding a certain reality TV star's hit and run.   Not only does the blind item describe Kate to a T, but locals wouldn't be at all surprised if it was true.  

Kate parked illegally in a fire lane. 

     Kate's driving has long been a point of local discussion. Several incidents of her unsafe driving are recounted in former US Magazine reporter and Berks County local Al Walentis's book The Secret World of Jon and Kate: The Stupidest Story in the History of the World and the People Who Covered It: Kate weaving in and out of traffic lanes at high speeds to outrun the paparazzi; Kate driving as fast as 95 MPH; and Kate driving at high speeds with her lights off at night to evade the paps, not to mention all the illegal parking.   My book, Jon & Kate Plus Eight: “Reality” TV & the Selling of the Gosselins recounts similar stories of locals who have been subjected to her bad driving. In fact earlier this year a local friend of mine was almost run off the road after Kate drove up very fast behind her, tailgated her at a dangerously close distance, and then passed her in a no-passing zone.

Kate parked illegally in another fire lane. 

     Kate's excuse for her August 2011 violation was that she was hurrying home to be with her children. Apparently she hasn't heard that most kids would rather have their parents arrive home slowly, safe and sound, than quickly in a casket. And how tacky is it for her to blame her children for her speeding? Does every parent who wants to get home to their kids have carte blanche to speed? And what a flimsy excuse anyway, considering she does nothing to curtail her inconsiderate and dangerous driving even when her kids are in the vehicle.

Didn't she ever hear of shopping carts (no pun intended)? 
     How many times will Kate have to endanger herself, her children and others before she learns that she doesn't own the road? Court dockets show Gosselin, cited under her legal name Katie I. Gosselin, was pulled over again and given a traffic citation by Pennsylvania state police on Sept. 11, 2011 in South Londonderry Township in Lebanon County. That case is still pending.

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This entry was first posted on Technorati as "Kate Gosselin Driven to Distraction?"

The two photos are from INF and RadarOnline.

Follow Polly on Twitter by following WernyGal.


Kate Plus Eight: Finale Recap

I wish I could present you with a pithy happy blog entry celebrating the end of Kate Plus Eight, but after watching it I am far from buoyant.


The beginning for the finale continued the discord at the end of the RV episode viewers saw last week. Ashley said she and kate have some issues to resolve, eventually, and she looked skeptical about resolution. On the other hand kate minimized the seriousness of Ashley's feelings by calling her overly dramatic and stating that in the five years they've worked together they've never had a disagreement, even a small one. That doesn't mesh with Ashley's strong statement that she was sick of kate's dramatics, indicating long term, not short term, drama. Maybe Ashley kept her mouth shut for the past five years but that doesn't mean there wasn't ever a disagreement. We all saw what happened when Jon tried to argue – or reason – with kate when she hit him, put him down or was otherwise abusive. It's easy to imagine Ashley not bothering to argue with kate after repeatedly seeing the futility of it, and only finally speaking out when trapped in the middle of nowhere with kate and having no other outlet for her frustration.


How sad it is that after all this kate says she loves Ashley and Ashley is family. As I wrote in my book, I believe that kate's unhappy childhood has prevented her from knowing what a family truly is. Over the years kate's referred to TLC and the crew as family while she's repeatedly alienated or rejected close and extended biological family members. When given the choice between ending the show or losing her marriage she chose the show, despite her promise to the kids that “we will always be a family.” The bottom line is kate can call anyone family or say she's got family as much as she wants to but those are just words that haven't borne out in her choices to have things rather than genuine quality human relationships, including saving her relationship with her husband for her family's sake.


Kate groused, “Holy cow, I'm unemployed and I have eight kids to provide for.” This would be the time for kate to move into Plan B, if she had one, but she was the first to admit she was shocked when the show was cancelled. I think kate's concerns about money is not that she doesn't have plenty, but that she's used to spending others' money rather than having to dip into her own wallet. At the time of the divorce Jon and kate were said to be worth $10 million, and the leading entertainment trade journal listed Kate's 2010 income as $4 million. The “bodyguard” was paid over $1000 a day by TLC. Former Timmy from TV's Lassie Jon Provost said in my book that TLC no doubt paid for the private school so the kids would be more available for filming than they would be at a public school where the rules about missing school are more stringent. And we all know about many of the other freebies (although not all, I'm sure.) Hopefully money has been set aside for the kids in reserves that cannot be accessed by kate because it's going to be awfully hard for her to eventually succumb to the mediocrity most of us are satisfied living with on a daily basis when the money runs out.


Interesting that when asked how they feel about the show ending, the kids said they're sad but they couldn't say why and none of them look genuinely sad. One of the twins even pulled the sides of her mouth down with her fingers rather than displaying genuine sadness, and then followed that up by explaining, in case we didn't get it the first time, that her doing that to her mouth meant she was sad. They all looked like they were repeating the party line because that's what they were supposed to say.


Kate stated “all of that financial responsibility” for the kids is on her, “Whew!” She neglected to mention the child support her former husband pays her. It may be mediocre compared to the $250,000 she made per episode, but he works an honest job and does the right thing by his kids, and it's insensitive to minimize that, just like it's insensitive to continually gripe about being a “single parent” when in fact she is only one half of the children's two parents.


“The First Voiceover Session” shown didn't mesh with kate's assertion that this was the “realest reality show ever.” Yes, there were retakes, and no, the kids weren't playing in front of the camera as she's asserted many times over the years. I was at the corn maze filming and I witnessed and documented what happened. These kids have worked their entire lives, period, and now they finally have a chance to stop working until they're old enough to choose their own jobs. Please, kate, don't screw it up again.


In her couch interview Jamie said the kate she sees now is not the kate she met at Reading Hospital, one she remembers being softer and more caring. The kate she sees now cares more about how she looks and being skinny, which Jamie attributes to kate having become used to a different level of treatment due to fame. This goes against what I've heard from others who worked with kate or knew her before fame hit, who've said that while fame has exacerbated kate's sense of entitlement, she was always difficult and demanding.


“Whoa, swearing, swearing.” God forbid anyone should swear in front of the kids, right? But what about the huge tantrums, including swearing, kate is notorious for at home when the cameras are off? Eventually the kids are going to rebel against this “do as I say but not as I do” hypocrisy, and it ain't gonna be pretty, and some of them are going to have hella potty mouths too.


Kate's always complained about the huge throngs of fans who've made her life miserable but from the clips shown it looks like she's drawn more attention to herself than necessary when she's recognized in public. She should try just calmly saying “hi” or “thanks” and keep walking, rather than standing there flailing her arms and complaining loudly that everyone is staring at her. That might help.


When asked how many times she and Jon discussed whether or not all the invasion was worth it, she said Jon was always ready to quit but she wasn't because “there's no perfect job, and it's a constant matter of just weighing the pros and the cons.” What a shame that it was never enough for her that her ex-husband wanted the kids off TV and wanted their normal life back. Instead she had to have more, more, more, and now she's got family “memories” on the same DVDs anyone else can buy and no marriage to show for it. And she's role-modeled very poor cooperative skills to her children in the process.


“Oh no, we don't hit, this is the potty corner.” Which means it's okay to hit outside of the potty corner? Former Gosselin employees have talked about kate taking the kids into rooms away from the cameras and hitting them and Al Walentis' book recounts one incident where she spewed F-bombs at the top of her lungs in front of the children as though there was nothing unusual in her doing so. Again with the “do as I say and not as I do.” Let's hope the eight are those kinds of learners who utilize their childhood experiences to improve their own parenting down the road, rather than replicating it and becoming hitters themselves. Unfortunately only time will tell but chances are excellent that at least some of them are going to turn out just like their momster.


The “I'm in charge and that's never going to change!” scene. I wasn't going to address the fake boobs but it's impossible to ignore the two elephants in the room. This is more than weight loss, running and a good bra. This is surgical. I think the reason viewers have been so annoyed at kate's not owning all of her cosmetic surgeries is because they feel that their intelligence has been insulted, much like viewers of The View felt insulted when Star Jones wouldn't cop to having had gastric-bypass surgery when it was obvious she had. As Judge Judy would say, don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining. If my TV was 3D both of my eyes would've been poked out by now.


Yes kate, all kids love watching their parents doing things together and getting along, but how sad that the only family documentation of this is in old footage that anyone can buy for a couple of bucks on eBay. Since the Gosselin family belonged to TLC, they were strictly limited in being allowed to take images even of their own family, but why would kate bother when she considers TV shows to be the family videos? The problem is, there are no truly private family moments in those “family videos,” no matter how much they are produced to appear to capture intimate moments. As Paul Petersen says, the presence of cameras changes everything, and even babies recognize they are being filmed and alter their behavior as a result.


Kate says this has been the most real reality show and the kids will always be able to look back and see their real lives and it doesn't matter whose living rooms it went to. One of the criticisms of the show has always been that the eight have had no choice about having their most private moments sold as entertainment for others. Unfortunately the finale showed more of the infamous potty and vomiting moments as well as some meltdowns. Why would the kids look back on this with fondness and why would they want others to see this? And why doesn't it matter whose homes it went into? How confusing it must be for the eight to hear in school about never putting private information about themselves on the Internet and to learn about stranger danger and personal safety, only to have videos of themselves in all levels of nudity available to any pedophile with $9.99, not to mention their mom sharing their actual locations at various times on twitter.


The last ten minutes of the finale were warm and fuzzy and featured a lovely song by Francesca Battistelli but I still left the last episode feeling sadness that after years of showing us how abusive she is, kate didn't utilize this last large-scale opportunity to redeem herself by acknowledging and taking responsibility for her bullying ways. It's unbelievable that someone could receive so much consistent feedback about themselves over so many years and yet still find ways to minimize, rationalize and outright deny it. She may have filed the divorce papers but it was her loss. Jon may not have been perfect during the marriage but at least he was a nice person, and he's long redeemed himself as a good parent by sticking to his word to put his children first.


Kate stated in an interview this week that we'll see the kids again and that she's not concerned that Jon doesn't want them on TV.   She also proudly unveiled her new web site which from first look promises to be another venture in grifting, self-aggrandizement and mercilessly selling her children. Unlike Jon, she hasn't learned a thing.


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To follow me on Twitter follow wernygal.


Kate Gosselin a Matter of National Security?

Rumors have circulated about a kate Gosselin-Steven Neild affair for the past couple of years, and now the Gosselin blogs are atwitter with the news that Steve Neild is named in the current People Magazine cover story as now being Kate Gosselin's “road manager.” This seems a step down from being kate's “bodyguard,” especially for someone who's work experience includes “lead[ing] the special operations section and focus[ing] on counter-terrorism and dignitary protection” for the New Zealand Police Department for 19 years, providing “close protection planning and management for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), for the Royal Families of Britain, Thailand, and Brunei, U.S. President Clinton, and many other elected heads of state,” and having “substantial experience in law enforcement and counter-terrorism operations and management of large critical facilities, such as Auckland International Airport in Auckland, New Zealand.”

Round these here parts we just thought he was paid to look handsome while he packed the van, carried the kiddies, and lugged bags back to the manor from Target.


To clarify this recent turn of employment events, I emailed Mr. Neild through the contact form on his professional web site.


Dear Prudential Associates,

I am a resident of Wernersville, PA, and the writer of a popular blog called Small Town Gosselins and I am writing to request an interview with security expert Steven Neild regarding his services for Kate Gosselin now that the TLC show Kate Plus Eight has been cancelled. Mr. Neild could have final approval of this interview which would be published on my blog and would address questions such as why Mr. Neild was hired to "protect" Kate Gosselin rather than her children, why there is a need for Kate Gosselin to have a "road manager" as she is currently unemployed, and how being a bodyguard for Kate Gosselin has impacted Mr. Neild's personal relationships with his wife and children. I spoke with Mr. Neild briefly at a local corn maze during TLC's filming of an episode there and found him to be warm and friendly. Thank you for your consideration and I hope you will grant my request for an interview.

Polly Kahl

Wernersville, PA


If I receive a reply I'll let you know how Steve's counter-terrorism tactics will be utilized on behalf of kate, as we all know kate Gosselin's health and safety, not to mention happiness, are a matter of national security.