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Entries in reality TV (53)

Wednesday
Sep142011

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.

 

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

To follow me on Twitter follow wernygal.

Sunday
Sep112011

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.

 

 

Monday
Sep052011

Tweets on the RV Breakdown Episode of Kate Plus Eight

Tuesday
Aug302011

ShowBiz Tonight - Tragedy of Reality TV Part III

Breaking News:  Bravo plans to air a one-hour special on the death of Russell Armstrong.  What do you think?  Is this Bravo's attempt to honor Russell and the family he left behind, or just another attempt to cash in?

*     *     *

Part III

by Mickey McKean

In regards to the suicide of Russell Armstrong, the real life tragedy of the RHOBH a reality TV show, Matt Lauer asked, "Do you think this a case where people just don't fully understand how their lives will change once they allow cameras in?"

 

ShowBiz Tonight pointed out that Russell's death comes in the exact same week that we saw two other big reality show events.  On Monday TLC officially canceled Kate Plus 8, the reality show some say helped rip apart Jon and Kate Gosselin's marriage, and on Saturday Kim Kardashian married Kris Humphries, a wedding and marriage that will become a big part of Kim's reality show Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

 

Is the Armstrong tragedy the latest example of another family destroyed by reality show fame?  Should this be a warning to Kris and Kim as they prepare to allow cameras in their upcoming marriage?

 

Showbiz Tonight said they obtained a copy of the new season of RHOBH and they confirm that once again the Armstrong's crumbling marriage was front and center.

 

Former reality star Jon Gosselin of Jon and Kate Plus 8, Nick Lachey of Newlyweds, and Hulk Hogan of Hogan Knows Best all have something in common with Russell Armstrong;  they all have placed some of the blame for their family troubles on their time in the reality show spotlight.

 

Dr. Lillian Glass (one of the many interviewees in Polly's book) said, "Reality stars are not prepared for what goes on ... I would tell Kim and Kris to really get to know each other and to communicate off air before they communicate on air, to not do things just to make good TV because it will have a lasting effect on them and it could have bad repercussions for their marriage."

 

Showbiz Tonight said, "It may be a stretch to say that reality shows lead to suicide as some think happen in the Armstrong case, but the trail of destroyed reality marriages and families is too long to ignore.  Still, for many, the allure of reality show fame is too strong to resist."

 

Glass said, "It really makes you stop and think ... wow, is it worth it?  In many cases it is not."

 

Showbiz Tonight then interviewed Russell's attorney:

 

ST:  There are reports that are claiming that it is not just reality TV fame that led to Russell's death, is it unfair to blame the show?

 

Atty:  I'm 100% convinced that Housewives created Armstrong's depression. 

 

ST:  How much financial pressure do you think came because of the show itself?

 

Atty:  The show caused a lot of financial pressure because the show was sort of the baby of Taylor and anything that Russell would do to effect the show's success would be negative in their marriage so Russell tried his best to keep this fictitious lifestyle going by overspending by a large degree. 

 

ST:  Do you believe that Russell was worried about how he was going to be portrayed in the show this season?

 

Atty:  He was absolutely terrified about how he was going to be portrayed. especially on the issues of domestic abuse and how it would effect him as a dad and on his business. and he was doing his best to make sure none of the other housewives would just casually defame him, to only stick to the facts that people had personal knowledge of

 

ST:  Do you think the best thing for Bravo to do is to cancel this season?

 

Atty:  Bravo needs to do what they want to do, but I think it would be very bad form to have this whole fiasco and fake crisis regarding Russell's marriage and whether they are going to reconcile when the man is dead.  I think they should do something other than go forward as is.

 

ShowBiz Tonight then interviewed Omarosa on the dangers of reality TV:

 

ST:  What drove Russell Armstrong to commit suicide?  Some people are pointing their finger squarely at the undeniable 24/7 pressure of reality TV fame.  Obviously there are some stars who have been through quite a bit, rehab, jail, divorce, and now we are talking about Russell's death.  Do you think that the pressure of living life in front of the cameras can be a trigger, if not the cause of, these troubles?

 

O:  Absolutely.  If you don't have a good sense of who you are and what you are about and you go on these shows you can either crumble under the pressure or you will thrive, and we can see that Russell crumbled.  When I was on the first season of The Apprentice we actually had a show psychologist who was on set every single day due to the pressure of being in the boardroom and being filmed 24 hours a day was too much for many of the 16 contestants.  I now wonder if Bravo will now have a show psychologist to help the different people on the show to deal with the pressures.

 

ST:  What helped you survive the pressures of reality TV?

 

O:  I have a wonderful family to keep me grounded ... but the true danger of reality TV is that you are no longer anonymous, when you go to the grocery store people know who you are.  That means that if you are on The Biggest Loser and you go through the drive thru for a big burger people are going to say hey here is a guy that is supposed to losing weight and now he is eating a quarter pounder.  If you have a mental break down, everyone will witness it and people will talk about it.

 

ST:  Let's face it, Omarosa, people said some unkind things about you, you were called the woman America loves to hate, of course you spun it into a franchise including your two books.  There are reports that Russell may have been overwhelmed trying to keep up with the Beverly Hills persona ... is there a lot of pressure to keep up the persona on and off camera because of what viewers expect?

 

O:  There is an incredible amount of pressure because people expect you are on television all of a sudden you have tons and tons of money and tons and tons of wealth and that is just not the reality for reality show contestants.  Reality TV may be getting a bum rap here ... Russell had a lot of pressures before this show.  What the reality television program does is magnify any problems that you had prior to going on and you have to live that in front of an audience and you get torn down on the blogs every single day.

 

ST:  What do you think Bravo should do with the new season of RHOBH?

 

O:  I would not be surprised if Bravo decides to continue with the season and keep Russell's parts in because this is reality television and this is a real situation.

 

According to TMZ, Russell Armstrong's business partner committed suicide the day after Russell's suicide by shooting himself in his car on Mulholland Drive.  It is unknown what the business partner's finances were at the time of his death.

Saturday
Aug272011

Part II on Last Week: The Tragedy of Reality TV 

This is Part II of a three-part series on reality TV by Mickey McKean.  Part III will be printed tomorrow.  Thanks for all your hard work on this, Mickey.  This validates the information given in my book by the anonymous television producer in our discussion about the inherent conflict of interest between human values vs. successful production within the reality TV industry. 

                                                             ~      ~      ~      ~     ~

Last week Access Hollywood investigated reality TV fallout in regards to failed marriages and money problems and asked the question: are the shows to blame?  Russell's attorney said, "I warned him prior to doing this show that their marriage would end up in shambles and that this show would ruin their lives."  AH stated that Russell's attorney confirmed the show put a huge strain on Armstrong's relationship and finances in part because they struggled to keep up with appearances.   "They end up trying to live a fantastical lifestyle that is not consistent with their economic means."

 

AH's Shaun Robinson said, "With the suicide of Russell Armstrong, we are reminded that no matter how entertaining the series may be, it features real people coping with real life problems."

 

AH pointed out that exposure comes with a price, especially to those who are not necessarily celebrities.  Ingela Ratledge, TV Guide, said "You go on a show like this and if there is even a teeny tiniest crack in your marriage going in, it will just explode when you go under the magnifying glass."

 

Shaun Robinson asked Camille Grammer, "Did any of the producers say we need some more friction, we need some more drama?" to which Camille replied, "You can say that."  Shaun pointed out that the drama and humiliation played out on TV with the divorce of Camille and Kelsey Grammar after 14 years of marriage.

 

Reality TV aftermath: Unknown one day, tabloid fodder the next. Why have so many of reality TV's marriages crumbled under the intense spotlight?  Shaun noted that the Real Housewives franchise started in 2006.  Out of the roughly 35 marriages combined, 9 marriages have crumbled over the run of the franchise. 

 

On Friday, Aug 19 Access Hollywood continued to investigate Reality TV's dark secrets.  Shaun Robinson said, "Will the RHOBH show go on?  In the wake of the real housewives tragedy it is a real tricky situation given that the marriage drama between Taylor and her now deceased husband Russell was to be the focus of much of the upcoming season.  The Armstrong marriage turmoil was at the forefront of what was supposed to be the first episode of season 2."

 

According to Andrew Wallenstein of Variety TV, "It turns out months before Russell committed suicide he actually threatened both the production company, as well as women on the show, regarding talking at all about his marriage troubles." Per AH, according to Variety, Russell was concerned about the allegations of physical abuse, and per Russell's attorney after voicing his concerns over a possible defamation of his character on the show an ultimatum was given to his wife Taylor.  Russell's attorney said, "Either through Bravo or Taylor's own management it was communicated to Russell that if he continued with these kinds of threats of legal action that either Taylor would have to leave the show or some other action would be taken.  What ended up happening is that Taylor filed for divorce."

 

Variety claims [Bravo] executives told Russell that the matter would be reviewed.  10 days after he sent the email he retracted it for unspecified reasons.

 

Shaun pointed out, "While there is a history of defamation lawsuits involving reality TV shows, oftentimes they get dismissed because cast members usually waive their right to sue within the contract."  Russell's attorney said, "The contract does not void a defamation lawsuit against the women in the show...I don't think he could sue Bravo for publishing defamatory statements...as he has done in the past to anybody who has defamed him."

 

Shaun asked, "Failed background checks and violent past histories, is reality TV a ticking time bomb?  Access investigates the dark secrets from past shows.  The turmoil should remind everyone that there is a down side to reality show exposure and today we look at how producers take every precaution to protect themselves from worse case scenarios.  A reality TV show contract carte blanche?  When a castmate signs on to get a shot at their 15 minutes of fame it could come at a huge risk.  In some cases reality show contracts give producers power to manipulate footage as they see fit.  The Village Voice obtained a copy of the contract for MTV's Real World which read (in part):

 

* You may die, lose limbs, and suffer nervous breakdowns

* You may be humiliated and explicitly portrayed in a false light

* Producers are under no obligation to conduct background checks on your fellow cast members

 

It was a failed background check that led to Rick Rockwell proposing to Darma on Who Wants To Marry a Millionairre.  Six days later Rockwell's alleged violent past was unearthed and Fox canceled the scheduled weekly airing of the show and future installments.

 

Ryan Jenkins committed suicide after murdering his girlfriend Jasmine.  At that time he had completed filming Megan Wants a Millionnaire but after the tragedies that entire season was shelved due to this tragic scandal.  It is believed that the background check company hired failed to discover that in Jan 2007 he was sentenced to 15 months for assaulting another girlfriend.  Producers of Megan Wants a Millionairre told AH, "obviously if the company had been given a full picture of his background, he would never have been allowed on the show."