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Entries in small town gosselins (4)

Sunday
Mar252012

Gosselins Included in "Biggest Scandals Ever" Show on E!

The E! Channel has been airing an episode of E! True Hollywood Stories entitled "Biggest Scandals Ever" over the past week. The Gosselins were included, placing them right up there alongside Charlie Sheen, Tiger Woods, Mel Gibson and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  It's less than a year after Kate Plus 8 was cancelled and already the Gosselin shows have been reduced to a gossipy "where are they now" kind of show. 

My readers may recall that I was a guest on the the E! True Hollywood Story "Kate Gosselin" which aired early in 2011, along with fellow author and Berks County local Al Walentis.  E! used some of their footage of Al in this week's "Scandals" show but I didn't make the cut which is just fine with me.  (Who likes seeing themselves on TV?  Oh yeah...never mind.) 

Funny how the Gosselins are referred to in the show as "America's favorite family."  I never even heard of them until they moved to my small PA town in late 2008 and they'd already been on TV for a few years before then.  In fact they didn't become a household word until the scandals began in the spring of 2009 and if it weren't for all the mud slinging and tabloid headlines their show would have probably been cancelled and they would have faded into obscurity wihout most Americans even being aware of their existance.  Kate may have complained about the tabs and the paps but financially they were the best thing that ever happened to her.  For a while, at least...

Here's a transcript of this week's show kindly provided by blog reader L.

    Reality TV loves a train wreck, but the Gosselin family seemed to be an exception to that rule.  Until off camera scandals made headlines.  In April 2004, big news came out of the small town of Hershey Pennsylvania. A local nurse, 29 year old Kate Gosselin, was pregnant with sextuplets. 

Kate: I cried. Not tears of happiness, no. Tears of fear. It was scary. They kept counting and counting and counting and counting and I thought they would never stop.

Jon: The fear at the beginning, yeah, how are you going to do this? How are you going to support them?

     The Gosselins were already proud parents of twins. Then, on May 10, 2004, Kate gave birth to three boys and three girls via Caesarean section.

Kate: A very great experience. Wonderful friends made. Awesome nurses, awesome doctors and I am just very thankful for this day. They're healthy babies.

TV Host commentator Michael Kosta: They had to deal with eight kids at once, so there was just naturally a sense of, “We're rooting for you."

     But Jon and Kate needed more than good wishes.

Kate (looks like she's on the GMA set): We were in a position after our sextuplets were born that we could not pay our bills.

Ken Baker (E! News Chief Correspondent): Producers at the Discovery Health Channel did a couple documentaries about their life. and they were such a big hit, that they decided to do an entire TV series on the family.

     Becoming reality TV stars paid off in perks.

Al Walentis: Clothing, Cribs, strollers, car seats, different amusement parks. Just about everything in Gosselin world was being paid for by someone else.

Alison Rosen: People began to feel like maybe the fame is going to Kate's head.

Ken Baker: Kate got a tummy tuck, she also got her teeth whitened, and mind you most of this was documented on the TV show.

      By 2008, the demands of shooting the series took a toll on the young couple.

Stephanie Santoro, former Gosselin nanny: Kate always wanted things her way or no way at all. She always wanted Jon to do things for her. If he didn't do it right she would flip out on him.

Kate: Anyone who has to watch themselves on TV, and how they talk, um, you think, oh, that came out a lot harsher than I meant it too. Or louder or meaner.

Ken Baker: Fame really changed their lives. She was spending most weekends away traveling, doing speaking engagements. She really enjoyed the attention.

      Although the Gosselins kept a lid on their marital problems. Rumors began to spread about tension between Jon and Kate. Then in January 2009, photos surfaced of Jon partying with various women at singles bars.

Ken Baker: He would hit all the local clubs. People were telling me that he'd go out dancing, having fun.

      At the same time, Jon and Kate remained under contract to film their show.

Ken Baker: They were really living totally separate lives, barely communicating. And when the cameras would come they would turn it on and pretend they were together.

Jon (Chris Cuomo interview?): I mean, I am sleeping in an apartment above my garage. I am paying a mortgage on a house I don't even sleep in anymore. 

       Finally, on June 22, 2009, in a move that stunned fans, the Gosselins decided to end their marriage on national television.

Howard Bragman (Vice Chairman, Reputation.com): Jon and Kate probably would have split up eventually. It just happens a lot quicker in a reality TV world.

Al Walentis: The divorce papers were filed the day that the episode ran.

Ken Baker: At the peak of all the drama they got over 10 million viewers. They were more than doubling their viewership by finally exposing the true reality of their lives.

     Kate wanted to continue filming the show, but Jon was ready to quit.

Al Walentis: He had a sign made up that said TLC is not allowed here under penalty of law, signed 'Jonathan Gosselin.'

Kate Gosselin: TLC has always said if one of us didn't want it to happen it anymore... and obviously they're not going to stand in the way... Jon is a parent. But, I wish he would think harder about it because it has ended our income, and our paychecks, and our opportunities. It is a terribly hard situation to be in.

     America's favorite family was in turmoil. Scandalous stories about the Gosselin's divorce dominated the media, fueled by the couple's custody battle.

Kate Gosselin: It is very clear that we are two different people at this point, with two different sets of goals.

Ken Baker: After a lot of back and forth, a lot of posturing in the media.  Kate won primary custody of all the kids. As a result, she continued to shoot the series which was retitled Kate Plus 8.

Kate Gosselin: I don't feel like it is time to end it if we are all enjoying it. I just feel the nine of us who want to do it should be able to do it.

     But Kate was having problems coping. During one episode of the show, she lost her temper when the babysitter and the kids took a piece of pizza that Gosselin said was for her bodyguard. “I am so tired of your dramatics,” the nanny told Kate on camera, and then quit.  Due to negative publicity and low ratings Kate Plus 8 was canceled in August 2011.

Howard Bragman: Kate Gosselin needs to focus on being a good mother and making a living and supporting her family.

Alison Rosen (entertainment journalist): Those eight kids are better off without the show. Having a reality show means your life is different and is interrupted. It was a like a tiny child star factory.

     Where the Gosselins go from here is anybody's guess.

Alison Rosen: Kate got a new haircut and now she's involved in extreme couponing, but no one cares.

Dr. Charles Sophy (psychologist): When you are a reality person who was Average Joe, and now you're going back to that person, it's a very tough road.

Alison Rosen: Perhaps Jon and Kate can have success in the public eye again. But, I don't think there are that many people who are clamoring for more Gosselin anything. Except for news of how they are having a tough time and they are in trouble.

Kate Gosselin: In everybody's life you make sacrifices. Everybody has to work, everybody has a job. Ours is a very unique job. It has taught us many things. It's given our kids many opportunities they would not have otherwise had.

(end)

Thanks to L. for providing this transcript. :)



Wednesday
Jul062011

Invitation to a Local Book Signing ~ Come Say Hi! 

You are cordially invited to join me at a local authors event at Berks County's Womelsdorf Community Library on Sunday July 10th from 2 - 5 PM.   As the author of Jon & Kate Plus Eight: “Reality” TV & the Selling of the Gosselins I'll be participating in the event along with sixteen other Berks County authors.

The event is commemorating the grand re-opening of the library after renovations.  The events will include a ceremony at 2 PM with speakers including local politicians and library staff followed by refreshments, music provided by a local harpist, a raffle, and the book event.  Each of the authors will have our own table in the section of the library where our books are available to local readers.  You'll be able to find me in non-fiction.

I'm looking forward to this fun opportunity to meet some of my local blog and book readers as well as new readers who are interested in learning about reality TV, Gosselin history, and the effects of reality TV on the Gosselins.  If you already have a copy of my book you're welcome to bring it for an autograph, and copies will be available for purchase at the event.

Womelsdorf is located on Route 422 approximately 25 minutes west of Reading.  It is a lovely small town, similar in size and flavor to Wernersville and several of the other small towns located along 422 between Reading and Hershey.  I hope to see you there!

Saturday
Jan222011

Jon & Kate Plus Eight: "Reality" TV & the Selling of the Gosselins

The electronic version of the book will be available within a couple of days and the paperback will be available in about two weeks.  The offical title is:

Jon & Kate Plus Eight:  "Reality" TV & the Selling of the Gosselins


and here's the blurb:

 

Polly Kahl started blogging as Werny Gal after the Gosselins moved to her small town of Wernersville, Pennsylvania.   In the next year and a half she experienced a whirlwind of life lessons about reality TV, the business of entertainment and the blogosphere as the Gosselin family splintered and eventually broke apart.  Jon & Kate Plus Eight:  "Reality" TV & the Selling of the Gosselins is full of insightful interviews, discussions and essays from experts and others who've watched the Gosselin saga since the beginning as well as authorities on the entertainment industry, television production, and reality TV.  Author, neighbor and professional counselor Polly Kahl adds her unique voice to the discussion with commentaries on the psychological aspects of reality TV and the Gosselin phenomenon. Join Werny Gal as she dishes the dirt and exposes the reality of “reality” TV and its impact on a fractured family TLC once called “Jon & Kate Plus Eight.”

 

Thanks to my dear readers for providing an interesting and illuminating one and one-half years here on Small Town Gosselins.  I've learned so much from you and I look forward to our continuing journey in the Gosselins blogosphere!

Friday
Dec102010

Interview with a TV Producer

This is the first 18 minutes of the 2.25 hour interview.  The television producer is TVP below, and I am WG.  We can refer to the TVP as male for the purposes of this discussion.  He does not work for TLC but he has worked on reality shows on another network, which you would recognize the name of.  

 

For those of you who are not cuckoo for reality show cocoapuffs the way I am, Spencer Pratt was Heidi Montag's boyfriend on The Hills (they're married now and Heidi has had dramatic physical changes due to multiple plastic surgeries) and Scott Disick is the "bad boy" boyfriend of one of the Kardashian sisters.  Kris Jenner is the Kardashians' mom, married to Bruce Jenner.

 

Believe it or not, this segment only covers the first question.  I hope you enjoy it and as usual, I look forward to your comments.

Werny Gal

*          *          *          *          *          *

TVP: So I guess the first question here is from GKWay. “How 'real' are reality shows and how much of it is actually 'scripted' with a story line?” The big thing to understand is that reality shows really are hyperbolized. A reality show really is a heightened sense of who somebody is and their dynamics with somebody, and when you have it edited together, you can consider it the highlight reel of this conversation for the day, put into an interesting way, coupled with music and narration into a seemingly plausible plot. The way that it usually goes is you sit down with your talent, who are involved in the show, ask them what are we doing here, what are we doing there, and as producers you get ideas on how you're going to sculpt them.

 

WG: You're saying that happens when you're actually taping, like the day of the taping?

 

TVP: Generally there's a meeting beforehand and there are decisions made before you do it. A lot of it is heavily produced. To call it scripted is kind of a misnomer, because you're not really writing down dialogue. What you're doing is you're setting up a situation, knowing who your characters are, knowing their dynamics, knowing how they'll interact with each other, and just letting it play out.

 

WG: For example, you might take one Housewife of New Jersey, who dislikes another Housewife of New Jersey, and get them together at the same restaurant at the same time.

 

TVP: Yes, setting them up there and knowing one of them is not going to be happy about something.

 

WG: And might you incite discord between them by egging them on privately beforehand?

 

TVP: Well, that's more of a Jerry Springer type of approach to it, and some people have gone that way and some people have not. If you take reality TV as a genre, [the approaches are] very widespread. Not every rule applies to every production. It really depends on what your goals are going to be with your viewers. Do you want them to laugh, do you want them to cry, do you want them to feel whatever it may be, that's how you're going to go about it. You always have a goal in mind.

 

WG: So that's primary: Having an emotional goal in mind.

 

TVP: Correct. Because even when writing a script for TV or a script for screen, you have a character arc. You have to have something that you love and something that you hate. Look at a show like the Kardashians, one of the biggest reality shows right now. Scott Disick, for example. Everybody hates him. He is really an exaggeration of the actual person, simply because you need a villain. Same thing with Spencer Pratt. They play a role. They create a character for themselves they portray for that. Knowing that in advance, the producers then can put things together and massage a story out of it. But again, we're talking about the entire genre. Reality TV encompasses the talent shows, it encompasses the family drama type of things, the game show types of things, so we have this wide dichotomy of what is and isn't reality.

 

WG: We're talking here, for our purposes, about "Jon and Kate Plus Eight,' all the Housewives shows on Bravo, "The Kardashians," now there's David Hasslehoff, "Little People, Big World," all those kinds of things. They actually show people, and it appears to the viewers that this is how those people really are.

 

TVP: No. Not even close. You have two different worlds here. When you're talking about the Kardashians and the Hasslehoffs, there's creative control because that celebrity's involved as a producer. When you look at the credits for the Kardashians, you'll notice that Kris Jenner is one of the executive producers of the show, so she makes executive decisions about what goes into the show, while they're shooting, while they're putting stuff together, and also in post and the editing. Something like "Little People, Big World" or "J&K+8" or now "kate Plus Eight," [the people in it don't] have that type of creative control. Shows like the Kardashians, the Hasslehoffs, "The TO Show," whatever it may be, they have an idea, and they pitch it to a network, and they get included as a producer as part of the creative process.

 

WG: So if Kate Gosselin was a producer, would she have more control?

 

TVP: Absolutely. As a producer, she could have final say here and there or have some word as to what they will or won't do. A lot of times what changes one show from another is the contract you sign with the network. How much control you have, what you are willing to do and not to do, and so forth. If you sign a contract saying you're going to adhere to whatever the standards are right there, then you're going to do that. But if you say “I have to have input on where we shoot,when we shoot, how long we shoot, and [things like that] then obviously you're going to take it into your own hands and make it a different experience.

 

     There's a lot of talk out there about who really called the shots in the Gosselin household. Was it Kate? Was it Jon? Is it TLC? And I think when you look at the term exploitation, which is thrown out there a lot, who's doing it, who isn't doing it, it's relative, and I think, in my personal opinion, not as a producer, not as a member of their staff, not as any of that, it's just my personal opinion as a viewer, is that there's multiple responsibility here. TLC sees something that's great for ratings, something that appeals to people. Kate had this appeal to people with a moral center, back when things started going. She was very pro-life, and that was attractive to the religious community. You supported her, you wanted to be there for her, because now she had this incredible plight on her hands. And what is she going to do? Nowadays that's changed a lot. So the show was more, in the beginning, about looking at cute kids and watching home movies, because everybody likes home movies. Now, they're getting older and it's not the same type of thing, so you have to amp up the drama. You have to put something else in there that will attract the viewers, and if it's not the show-and-tell of cuteness, there's got to be something else out there. When you have competition out there, like "Jersey Shore" or "The Bad Girls Club," people want that, they want the drama. I mean, look at Kate's latest on the Sarah Palin show. There's a reason why TLC put her crying in their promos. Because people like drama. As long as there's drama, there will be viewers.

 

     So, I kind of deviated from the question here, how much of it is actually scripted? Scripted isn't the term I'd use. “Heavily produced.” There are procedural ways of doing things. If you're writing a screenplay or writing a script for TV, you have characters, you have personalities, all you have to do now is put them in situations and create conflict or a catalyst. So, if you know Kate's going to be a hothead and you know Jon's going to be kind of frumpy, and you have him do something that's going to piss her off, well, there you go. Instant drama. It's a recipe.

 

WG: What I'm getting out of this is that there's no reality TV that's actually real. So don't you feel that's manipulative to viewers? And how can viewers discern what to actually believe and what not to believe?

 

TVP: I don't think that's completely true. Every reality show has a portion of it that's real. But look at your normal life. If you watch something like Kate Gosselin 24 hours a day, you're going to be bored. She's going to be sitting for eight hours, she's going to be cooking. There has to be something real there. These are real people, they have real lives, they have real emotions, and there are real circumstances. What isn't real necessarily is these extraneous circumstances you put them in.

 

WG: Yes, like taking the kids to the corn maze. If you look at the film, it looks like they had this wonderful day of going on the hayride, and going to the corn maze, and getting costumes at the store, and picking out pumpkins, when actually, it was several days, it actually took place over a couple of weeks, and they were only at the corn maze for 20 minutes, and they weren't really playing, they were working. But what you see is this happy production of loving family time, and that's not what really happened.

 

TVP: And maybe to a certain extent, when you look at everything [the eight kids] go through, for them that might be happy family time.

     I think the big thing to keep in mind here is that you have to fill 22 minutes with content that's interesting and thought-provoking and makes you feel something. And if you had a true reality show with a camera on somebody 24 hours a day, it'd be boring. You only put in the highlights, so these little trip out there to the corn maze, or to the zoo, or to Alaska, they become the basis for an entire episode because it's interesting. You're not going to put the stuff that's boring on there. So reality, yes. It is real, what they do is real, but the circumstances are provoked or they're helped or they're produced.

 

WG: Contrived.

 

TVP: I wouldn't go so far as to say they're contrived, because again, when you have people involved in the creative process, it doesn't have to be. I think with Jon and Kate it's a very different type of show. There aren't very many things out there where children are the focus and the basis for it.

 

     Now as far as the adults involved in these things, you're playing off of the highlights. Really, a reality show is a highlight reel of somebody during a certain amount of time that involves provoked experiences. If you know Kate’s going to be the villain of the show, you're going to patch together a series of events that make her look bad. With anyone you could easily do the same thing. One of your readers asked how much footage it takes to do a 30 minute show. It's relative. It's depends on what you're trying to get across what happened there, and if you can complete a story. So a 30 minute show could be shot in one day or it could be shot over a year, it just depends on what point you're trying to make. You always overshoot. You always have several angles. You always have the cutaway, that reaction shot. It's interesting to see what other people think, and the angle of the shot can bring you into the experience.

 

WG: So since you said something about the kids, as a producer vs. as a person, what do you think about having kids on TV in these so-called reality shows who aren't capable of consent due to their young age or immaturity or lack of education or experience?

 

TVP: I think it depends on the situation. When you have a reality show when the family is the center, and the family is in it together, an they all agree, “this is what we want to do,” and there's an open dialogue, with ways out of a contract, and ways to walk away and have that privacy, then you have the opportunity to have that exposure, and your privacy, and still have your boundaries set. When the show The Osbournes was on, a lot of people don't know this, but Ozzy has an older daughter who lived in the house who said “I don't want to be a part of this,” and that was respected. It didn't hurt her, it didn't hurt her reputation, it didn't hurt the family, and it definitely didn't hurt the show.

 

WG: I've always had the impression that with the Roloffs of "Little People, Big World" that this was very much something they wanted to do together as a family.  {TVP nods in agreement.]   So what do you think about the Gosselins in relation to that? Those kids have literally grown up on camera. And they've said several times they don’t want to film.

 

TVP: I think it's hard to trust the words that are out there unless they're spoken directly from the mouths of the people, and I think the Gosselins are a very specific, unique situation. You're talking about kids who don't know anything in their comprehensive lives outside of camera exposure. So you're really establishing a new precedent for other shows. Child actors have the opportunity to go on set for how many hours, and then go home, and get that break. There aren’t cameras set up in their bedrooms, in their bathrooms, in their living rooms, following them around constantly [like the G kids have been subjected to.]  They have that ability to still be a child, and are free to make mistakes, are free to strip, are free to have tantrums, without having the world document this. That's what's so different about the Gosselins, and I think that's why there are people on both sides of the spectrum.

 

      For me personally, I would not subject my children to that type of exposure. They're now old enough where they can't make adult decisions for themselves, but if they're telling you they don't want to be a part of something, as a person with a bleeding heart, I would say, “Okay, I'm going to take your thoughts into consideration and you don't have to do this.” I understand that you need to provide for your family, which is one thing Kate says time and time again. But just recently she was marked as the number five grossing reality star. I mean, she made 3.5 million dollars this year [according to an official trade report.] I mean, you can say, “That's enough.” A lot of people don't make that much money their entire lives.

 

WG: You know, a lot of people thought she made like $70-80K an episode, until TV Guide published that said she makes $250K.

 

TVP: Which sounds like a lot, because it is, but from what I'm reading that $250,000 is for the entire family, which is split eight ways.

 

WG: No, it's not.

 

TVP: No?

 

WG: The children split 15% eight ways, which means they each get 1.87%. She gets 85%.

 

TVP: What I'm saying though, is that $250K is for them, but because they're minors, they're only entitled to 15% set aside into their Coogan account.

 

PK: Except the Coogan Law doesn't apply in Pennsylvanian.  That's a California law.

 

TVP: Oh, really?

 

WG: Yeah. That's one of the reasons that we're looking at laws here in PA, because we don't have those laws to protect kids in entertainment here.

 

TVP: That's pretty shady.

 

WG: Yes, and according to Paul Petersen, the eight kids do split 15%, which is the minimum required that the kids get, so they actually are splitting the minimum.

 

TVP: And that reflects a lot on TLC's practices.

 

WG: Does it? Or does it reflect on the parents?

 

TVP: The parent is the one who has to sign on behalf of the children, but the fact that the network is putting that out there in that term, instead of dividing it by each person? If they set it up that way, then I don't want to say they're enabling the parent to exploit them, but they're not helping it either. And that's something that, you know, we're in the business of making money, and you're going to do whatever's most profitable for you, and I'm sure the amount of money they make on the show vs. what they make between DVD sales, appearances, ratings overall, is all a lot more lucrative for them than their investment right now.

 

     I think the big question is going to be, what's going to happen when the show gets canceled?

 

WG: She has a contract until I think the end of February 2012 so although the ratings have steeply declined, does that mean that TLC will continue to try to find something for her to do, to utilize her because she has this contract?

 

TVP: It depends on what's in the contract, and a contract can be defined in so many different ways. There's speculation that when the show ends you're out of your contract, and if that's in the contract, it is. But if that's not in the contract, then for this many years? Then it doesn't matter. The only ones who know the right answer to that would be the lawyers at TLC, and Kate’s attorneys and herself, and they're not talking.

                                                                            ~END~