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Kate Gosselin's Red Cross "Contributions" Not So Great

Yesterday the American Red Cross supposedly asked Kate Gosselin to remove a picture from her web site which shows her draped in what appears at first glance to be nothing but a Red Cross blanket.   After receiving complaints Dave Shrader of the American Red Cross Southeastern Chapter stated, "We have since asked her to choose a different photo to post on her website and are awaiting her response."  Then apparently he backtracked because he later stated, "I did mistakenly write that we have asked Ms. Gosselin to take down the photo. We have not. I meant to write we have asked that she submit a different photo for us to use on the phillyhomefire website."

Sounds to me like Mr. Shrader's discovered what many of us already knew, which is that when it comes to saying anything regarding Kate Gosselin, it's hard to please everyone and someone's bound to complain about something.  I experienced the same backlash after appearing on the E! show on Kate and writing my book about the effects of reality TV on the Gosselin family and then receiving hate comments of my own because some of her detractors thought I didn't hate Kate Gosselin enough. 

IMO the picture of Kate draped in the flag is inappropriate and has much more to do with her grabbing another 15 seconds of fame than her giving a rat's ass about the Red Cross.  I'm a Red Cross volunteer and I can tell you for a fact she's never been in contact with the Berks County Red Cross and has never donated a dime to them, and she's sure never been out in a cold truck at 3 AM handing out blankets to crying parents and children who have lost their homes, their pets and everything but the pajamas they're wearing over their bare feet in the dead of winter.  So let's talk about what's really important.

The Red Cross.  As my regular readers know I'm a Red Cross volunteer, and I happen to have pictures of the truck because I took some for my kids when I was last on it on October 15th.  The truck was donated to the Red Cross by a local women's organization and it was received with much appreciation.  It is a converted bread truck which was once full of racks for breads to be delivered from the factory to local grocery stores.  It fills the Red Cross's basic needs, and I do mean basic, and it's a gas guzzler.  Here's what the inside of it looks like.

Behind the passenger seat there's a tiny sink with storage underneath.  Everything is condensed and built for function, not beauty.

There's a small gas stove and all the storage compartments are labeled.  The truck carries different volunteers all the time depending on who's on call and it's important to be able to find things quickly.  We're all trained and certified in first aid and CPR and when we go on calls we're ready for anything. 

In the back behind the driver's seat is a standing storage compartment loaded with bins of supplies we need for the comfort of people in crisis mode.  We have as many comforts as we can afford that fit into the truck, everything from water bottles to blankets to slippers.

Along the side behind the driver is a bench storage unit.  When we're at the scene of a fire or other emergency we bring families into the truck and try to comfort them.  They are often traumatized and unable to think clearly and we take care of their basic needs.  We make sure they're warm and safe and we help them find shelter for the night or the next few days until they find new homes.  We also give them vouchers for clothing and places to stay while they get back on their feet.  This all takes hours and the emergency call can wake the volunteer up at any time of the night.  Be prepared to be exhausted the next day but know you'll be grateful because you're being tired doesn't begin to compare to what these poor families have been through and will continue to go throu for the next couple of weeks, months or years as they recover from their emergency.


Please excuse my hair, I didn't know I was going to use these pictures on my blog.  Inside the bench are blankets and bags of toiletries for the families, containing little comforts like toothbrushes and toothpaste.  In cases of fire the victims sometimes walk away from their burning homes with literally nothing.  The blankets we hand out are nothing like the cushy creamy blanket Kate draped herself in.  The real ones are thin and inexpensive but they do the trick when even the basics feel like luxuries. 

IMO any more conversation about this just feeds into Kate's continual bid for attention, fame and money so I just have one more thing to say.  Kate Gosselin, put your money where your mouth is.  The Red Cross exists solely on donations.   Instead of griping about how poor you are and extolling how thrifty you are by using all those coupons, how about donating some of that $4 million you made last year alone to the Berks County chapter of the American Red Cross?  


Shit: Meet Fan ~ TLC Employee Arrested for Child Pornography

One of the fears of many who have watched the Gosselin saga over the years has come true: An employee of TLC has been arrested for the distribution of child pornography. William Johnson Blankinship has worked as on online editor for TLC on Kate Plus Eight as well as other shows involving children.


Kate tweeted she's never heard of Blankinship but that's not the point. The point is that private images of her eight children were accessible to him because there were no legal protections in place to prevent it from happening. We do know that Kate allowed images of her children being filmed and aired that she no doubt never would have allowed to be taken of herself: Images of them sitting on the potty, undressed, having their diapers changed, and vomiting for example. If that's what we saw being considered acceptable fare for airing, God only knows what Blankenship could have collected from all the film considered inappropriate for airing.  If he is a pedophile who gets off on this material he would've had the pick of the litter with all those thousands of hours of film, and if he used child porn for financial gain he could've made a mint on selling rare film of famous children to other pedophiles.


I've blogged about the PA Dept of Labor & Industry's slacking off when it comes to requiring all adults who work with children in entertainment in PA undergoing mandatory criminal background checks and child abuse clearances. This lack of corporate responsibility is further discussed in my interview with Paul Petersen and others in my book on the effects of reality TV on the Gosselin family. No, these safety measures wouldn't spot pedophiles who haven't been busted in the past, but at least those with records could be rejected as employees. Without these background checks any old pedophile can work for television production companies and have access to hours of private film of young children, not to mention sometimes having access to the children themselves.


In Pennsylvania anyone whose work “normally and regularly” brings them into contact with minors must meet these simple legal requirements. The papers are cheap and easy to fill out and must be completed by all daycare workers, school employees, and anyone else working with kids here in PA. I've blogged before about the mystery of not only why TLC does not perform this simple, inexpensive safety check on all of their employees, but also why the PA Dept of L&I hasn't required them to. It's one of the several examples of how children in entertainment in this state have fallen through the cracks of a system that protects other children but not them. The cracks have only widened and deepened since Jon & Kate Plus Eight began filming here and reality TV production came to PA.


Ironically, it was only two days ago that Kate slammed Paul Petersen on Twitter, despite his being the driving force behind working toward legislation to protect children in entertainment in this country. This is the same reality TV mom who allowed her very young children to be alone at various times with crew members who had not undergone the background checks, in such isolated places as bathrooms, the kids bedrooms, and in the woods outside the home. Efforts to remove the children from the public eye by the father have been repeatedly dashed to the extreme where she even went to a judge to have his refusal to allow filming overruled. Throughout it all and despite much evidence to the contrary, she has insisted that, unlike she who works hard, the kids have only played in front of the cameras.


One out of every three or four children in this country is sexually abused before the age of 18, and kids in entertainment are a natural target.  Why hasn't a mother who desires (apparently VERY, VERY badly) to have her children in entertainment  insisted that all possible precautions be in place to protect her children?  And why hasn't a television network which calls itself The Learning Channel taken simple, inexpensive precautions to protect itself from the legal repurcussions that could result if the minors in its care are subjected to predators and criminals?  And why haven't either utilized the free services of A Minor Consideration, which could guide them toward creating their exntertainment in ways that would be responsible to the minors involved?  What will it take for these adults to consider this situation to be serious enough to actually do something about it?  Because for most of us, or at least those of us who aren't monetarily invested in this situation, today the shit hit the fan.


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Article first published as TLC Employee Arrested for Child Pornography on Technorati.


Kate Gosselin's Tweets Not So Sweet

Kate Gosselin's tweets, which have been known to include veiled (or not so veiled) jabs at her ex-husband Jon, took a new direction in nastiness Monday when she put down widely respected veteran actor and child advocate Paul Petersen. When a Kate fan informed her through Twitter that Petersen had been on a local radio show that morning, Kate's response was, “lol. He just needs a platform to hear himself talk...”

Paul Petersen's worked in the entertainment business for over fifty years. He starred on the Mickey Mouse Show, co-starred in classic feature films with Hollywood royalty like Cary Grant and Sophia Loren, has had several hit singles, and authored a series of sixteen books. In 1990, following the suicide of former child star Rusty Hamer, Petersen founded A Minor Consideration, a non-profit child advocacy group providing support and guidance to former child stars and children in the entertainment business. The group's membership currently includes approximately 600 former child actors. In 2009, he successfully petitioned a California court to appoint a law guardian to oversee the earnings of the widely publicized octuplets born to "octomom" Nadya Suleman. In 2010 he met with community leaders, lawmakers and the media to promote PA Representative Thomas Murt’s bill to reform Pennsylvania’s child labor laws (still pending). Ironically, Kate Gosselin, who achieved fame by giving birth to sextuplets after intrauterine insemination and is widely reputed to be self-centered and difficult to get along with, would be lucky to achieve half the success in her lifetime that Petersen has achieved in his.

Kate's rude tweet about Petersen was in response to the fan telling her that Petersen had been “judgmental” on the local radio show, but it's hard to figure how someone who's dedicated his life to preventing future child actor disasters could be construed as anything but positive to a mother of eight famous children. Perhaps Kate Gosselin resents the fact that Petersen brought attention to the need for improved child labor laws in Pennsylvania partially as a result of her shows, Jon & Kate Plus Eight and Kate Plus Eight, being filmed here. Many former fans of Gosselin's shows now believe she exploited her children for fame and money by allowing them to be filmed engaging in such private acts as having their diapers changed, sitting on the potty, fighting and having tantrums, and vomiting. The proposed bill will protect the working children of PA by limiting hours they're allowed to work, mandating that they have guardians on set, and have protections for their financial well being set in place, among other improvements. For most parents of kids working in entertainment in Pennsylvania, that bill, when it finally passes, will truly be something worthy of tweeting about.                                                               

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Article first published as Kate Gosselin's Tweets Not So Sweet on Technorati.


Come to Author Meet & Greet Oct 15, 2011

The Wernersville Public Library has invited me to participate in a local author Meet & Greet event, on Saturday, October 15 from noon until 2 PM.  I'll be there signing copies of my book, Jon & Kate Plus Eight:  "Reality" TV & the Selling of the Gosselins, along with three other local authors.  It's supposed to rain later this week but it should clear up by Friday night and the weekend promises to offer another gorgeous early fall day in Berks County, PA.  Hope you'll stop by, say hello to our lovely Wernersville Library and enjoy the refreshments!


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.

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