Jon Gosselin: New 'Jon & Kate Plus 8' halt demand due to "epiphany"
By Christopher Rocchio, 10/02/2009
Jon Gosselin claims his decision to demand a halt to the filming of TLC's Jon & Kate Plus 8 reality series was the result of a recent epiphany.
"I had an epiphany one day. I just looked in the mirror and I said I don't want to be this person anymore. I made mistakes. I know I messed up. I do regret a lot of things. But I have to learn from those mistakes and move forward," said Gosselin during a Thursday appearance on CNN's Larry King Live.
"I don't want to film. If I wanted to film, I wouldn't be here right now. I would just be, like, 'OK, we're going to film, we're going to take the money and that's what we're going to do.' It's not healthy for my kids to be going through this."
The Jon & Kate Plus 8 star had his lawyers demand TLC "cease and desist" any television production on his family's Wernersville, PA property or face potential criminal charges on Tuesday -- the same day the network announced plans to re-launchJon & Kate Plus 8 as a Kate-focused series that would be retitled Kate Plus 8 and feature Jon on a "less regular basis."
Mark Jay Heller -- Jon's lawyer, who also appeared on Larry King Live with him -- alleges that the only reason TLC made the Tuesday announcement was because they learned Jon was going to appear on King's show to announce he wanted to pull the plug on Jon & Kate Plus 8.
"The truth of the matter is, Larry, we had asked weeks ago for this production to stop," explained Heller.
"And the minute TLC learned we were coming on Larry King's show and we were going to announce on the show that we were putting the brakes on the divorce and putting the brakes on the show and disclose the reasons why, which would have been very embarrassing to them, as you'll learn later on in this program, they decided to save their face and preempt this individual by coming out and firing him before it became public that he fired the show."
Jon added he was blindsided by TLC's Tuesday announcement.
"I had no idea. I found out just like everyone else, on an [The Associated Press] newswire," he said, adding he learned the news while using a laptop in the office of his manager Mike Heller, the son of his lawyer Mark.
"I was totally shocked. It was totally out of blue. I had no warning at all."
Jon's lawyer claims he received a letter from TLC's legal team last Friday that advised him that Jon should not appear on Larry King Live.
"When we told them we were going to still appear and we were going to, in essence, terminate the show, they then said yesterday we'd better do something first," Heller alleged, referring to TLC's re-launch announcement.
In a statement read by King during last night's broadcast, TLC rebuked the claim.
"Jon did not request that TLC pull the plug on the program until after the network announced that it was changing the title to Kate Plus 8," the network said in a statement provided to King.
"Until the network announced that the show would be retitled, Kate Plus 8, Jon's request to the network related solely to his demands for money and the network releasing him from his exclusivity obligations and to be provided with a motorcycle that had been paid for by TLC and used in an episode of the program."
However Gosselin said he has "documented proof" that he wanted to pull the plug on the show -- which he subsequently failed to elaborate on -- and told King the only part of the TLC statement that was true pertained to the motorcycle.
"The only part is the motorcycle. It was promised to me and they didn't give it to me," he said. "They said based on my good behavior -- based on my good behavior, I might get the motorcycle by the end of Season 5. I don't even care about the motorcycle. Keep it. Keep it, sell it, donate it to charity, whatever you want to do. But guess what? I want my kids off the show."
Kate's divorce attorney Mark Momjian -- who also appeared on the King broadcast -- said he doesn't buy Jon and Heller's claims and stated that regardless of his current feelings, Jon is still bound by a previously-signed shared custody agreement in which he and Kate had agreed whichever parent had physical custody of the children would get to decide whether they could participate in Jon & Kate Plus 8 during that time.
"In this case, it's clear that his timing is connected to his diminished role on the show. Just last [Friday], he was taping with the children. All of a sudden, he has an epiphany. Maybe he'll have another or new epiphany tomorrow. Or maybe he will have another epiphany the following week," Momjian told King.
"The parties in this case agreed, with lawyers representing them, that the party that had physical custody of the children would make the decisions regarding the taping of the children. He signed an agreement to that affect. If he wants to change the terms of that agreement, he has to go to court."
Jon reiterated that his reason for pulling the plug on Jon & Kate Plus 8 is because he thinks it has become "detrimental" to his children's health.
"I'm asking not to be on the show and I'm asking my children not to be on the show. I mean, I don't want them to film anymore. I don't think it's healthy for them," he explained. "The reason I don't think it's healthy for them is that we're going through a divorce right now. And I don't think it should be televised. And I think my kids should be taken off the show."
"I don't think it's healthy for them. And, you know, now I have a sense of empowerment. Before, I didn't have any representation. You know, I -- I -- I take blame for not being an initiator. I was an avoider. I was passive."
"Until we resolve the issue, I don't want any filming, you know, at my house. I mean I -- I have the joint shared custody of my kids and I have every right and it's my voice, as well."
Since his twins are now 8-years-old and his sextuplets are 5-years-old, Jon said he decided it's time to "let them experience a normal childhood."
"I can assure your viewers and you that this show will definitely not go forward with the eight children under any circumstance, because I have confidence in the courts," said Heller. "Every child is a ward of the court. And they will never subject the children to this show if the father believes it's detrimental."
Jon claimed Kate wants to continue filming "to financially benefit maybe herself and the kids," and Heller reiterated his belief that a judge will not allow Kate to continue with the show -- in any form -- without Jon's consent.
"I've been out there for 40 years and I don't know any judge in any jurisdiction that's going to say to a father, who doesn't believe that his children are being handled properly in this sort of production, let the kids keep reduce producing because TLC is making $186 million," said Heller.
"The contract, such as it may exist, was a specific designation of a program involving the whole Gosselin family. The minute they terminated that production and that title, they had to get a new contract which they haven't done."
After King read a statement from TLC in which they expressed "contractual right to retitle the show," he asked Heller where he got the $186 million figure from.
"This was reported in a lot of journals. It was a compilation that was done by people that track revenues. And I read it, frankly, in The New York Post. And the story said that the majority of that revenue was attributed to the Jon & Kate Plus 8 program," Heller said in an apparent reference to an August 5 report about the second quarter 2009 profit of TLC's Discovery Communications parent company.
However assuming the August 6 report is the "story" Heller was referencing, there appear to be multiple inaccuracies in his $186 million claim -- which he continued to repeat heavily during the interview -- beginning with the fact ThePost report did not claim "the majority of that revenue was attributed to the Jon & Kate Plus 8 program."
Instead, the report only stated that Discovery -- a global media company that also operates Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and more than 100 networks that are broadcast in more than 170 countries, as well as producing consumer and educational products -- had its earnings "driven in part by higher ratings for shows like Deadliest Catch, River Monsters, and Jon & Kate Plus 8" before also noting that Jon & Kate's ratings had "soared recently."
In addition, ThePost had also reported a $183 million figure -- not $186 million -- and noted that $46 million of the amount was due to a one-time tax gain resulting from a new venture in which it will relaunch Discovery Kids as a Hasbro-branded network.
During the interview, Jon also claimed his relationship with TLC began to go sour in January -- which was shortly before the first reports and photographs of him participating in late-night partying with women who weren't his wife began surfacing.
"I don't get along to the people at TLC," he said. "Since January, I started getting calls from the executives, which is so rare. You really don't really hear from them."
"And what were they saying?" asked King.
"Basically, that I'm in breach of contract and, you know, I can't go out. They put me on house arrest. They gave me a bodyguard for three weeks," said Jon.
"House arrest?" asked a puzzled King.
"Yes. It's house arrest," said Jon. "I had 24-7 bodyguards."
In addition to feeling like he was on "house arrest," Jon said his family's "exploited" situation was subsequently brought to his attention by Heller -- who became Jon's divorce attorney of record in September but failed to state when he actually began working for Jon.
"From the very first week that I became Jon's attorney, I had an explosive discussion with them as soon as I learned about how they had exploited Jon and his wife when they executed this contract," said Heller.
"And I told [TLC] that this had to be addressed immediately and they stopped communicating with me. I've been talking about pulling the plug on this show ever since I became counsel. And Jon made a decision and I followed it."
Jon's claim that the TLC show is "detrimental" directly contradicts his own repeated public statements about allegations that Jon & Kate Plus 8 was exploiting the children -- including when he called the characterization "ridiculous" in a June interview with People after Kate's estranged brother Kevin Kreider and his wife Jodi had publicly alleged the children were being exploited during a television interview with CBS.
Jon expressed remorse when asked by King about labeling claims that his kids were being exploited as "ridiculous."
"I do regret it. But I talked to Jodi today," Jon told King. "If I would have said opposite of that, if I would have said TLC is exploiting the kids or we are, I'm in breach of contract. So either way..."
"But you weren't lying," King followed up. "I mean you meant it?"
"I meant it and I felt that way," responded Jon.
"And now, looking back, and -- and what has recently happened, after filing for divorce, I mean this has been a media explosion. This is ridiculous. I've been on the cover of magazines since January, you know. And it's just -- it's just crazy. I want -- I want the fodder to stop and I want Kate and I to mediate. I want us to become friends. I want us to figure out our marriage and I don't want it to be filmed anymore. And I don't want the kids involved."
During the interview, Jon and Kate's lawyers also discussed Jon's Tuesday filing of a document with a Pennsylvania court-approved arbitrator that -- if approved -- would have suspended his pending divorce from Kate for 90 days. The couple's divorce filing was originally slated to be finalized this fall.
"They tried to delay the arbitration. And the arbitrator denied their request," said Momjian. "I don't know why they don't bring that to the attention of the public. They seem to bring every other fact to the attention of the public. They tried to delay because Jon wants to delay the entire case. And the arbitrator said no, and the case is going to go forward."
Heller responded that "this is the first that I'm learning that there's been any denial of our request to put the brakes on this proceedings."
"Although counsel believes that timing is important, I think family values, as does my client, is important," said Heller. "And there's no rush. They've been married for 10 years," he added.
While there may be no rush, Momjian contended there's also "no reason to delay" the divorce proceedings.
"There is no prospect of reconciliation in this case. He doesn't want to go to marriage counseling. He doesn't want to say that the marriage is irretrievably, you know, alive and not broken," he said.
"In this instance, we have a case where the parties agreed to arbitrate their matter. They agreed to share legal custody. It means that he has an obligation to consult with Kate on important decisions. Why is he not talking to his own wife about these important decisions?"
Jon responded by claiming he hasn't seen Kate in three-and-a-half weeks and but added it is not his fault.
"I have tried to call her. I text her," said Jon. "She doesn't want to talk."
Momjian countered by claiming that "Jon and Kate agreed with each other that the children would continue their participation in the show. If Kate thought for one second that this was detrimental to the children's best interests, she would take the children off the show."
"Jon has always encouraged and supported the children's active participation in the show. He has admitted it tonight, and maybe he will admit it tomorrow after he has another epiphany on this case," continued Momjian.
"The reality is that if Jon wants to do something to end the children's participation in the show, there's a process. Why isn't he following that process? Why isn't he calling Kate and trying to work it out?"
Heller adamantly stated he and Jon are "going to court" -- both legal court and "the court of public opinion," the later of which he seemed to deem the more important one and repeated several times throughout the interview.
"Larry, not only will we be going to the state court, but being on this program before you and your viewers, we're in court," Heller told King. "We're in the court of public opinion. And I defy TLC to satisfy you and your viewers that they are right and Jon is wrong. This contract is void and this contract is detrimental to this man's family."
Jon stated that TLC has previously acknowledged in a written statement that "if either Kate or Jon feel it's detrimental to their kids, not Kate and Jon -- Kate or Jon -- we'll stop the show."
"Fine. It's detrimental to my kids. It is definitely detrimental. It is not healthy," said Jon.
In addition, Jon stated that they started Jon & Kate Plus 8 four years ago for financial gain but he's now unsure if it was the right decision.
"In the beginning, we -- it was for financial purposes, yes. But I can't tell you if I would have a better life then or now," he said. "I mean it's like, you know, would I have been better off? I don't know. I could have been living in a hole somewhere or, you know, you don't know. It's -- that's hard... I definitely have regrets."
Heller argued that the original agreement between TLC and the Gosselin family is "null and void" and unenforceable because Jon and Kate didn't retain any legal representation when they signed their TLC contract (as Jon had previously stated in his initial interview comments) and the network never secured Pennsylvania Child Labor Law permits as a prerequisite for the Gosselin children's involvement in Jon & Kate Plus 8.
"This is a null contract for the following reason. As mentioned earlier, at the time that these two struggling people were desperate for money, TLC came with a cadre of lawyers, the most sophisticated contract you've ever seen and said 'sign.' They had no manager. He had no lawyer. He had no idea of what he was signing," contended Heller.
"What's more upsetting is the contract provided that there was no compensation specifically for the kids. These kids have been working for the past four years without any specified contract being attributed them."
Heller noted that an investigation has been undertaken by the state's Labor Department, which he alleged "may expose the respective parties to almost $2 million of fines because they require a permit."
"TLC, contrary to what was represented to Jon, never got a permit for the kids to act; never got pay permit for the location and these provisions render it as against public policy," stated Heller. "I was not his attorney and that's why this has all come about in the last few weeks."
Jon said he was "unaware of even a requirement for a permit" when the show's filming began because he had "no representation" at the time.
"I thought that was up to the production company," he said. "The only time ever I realized it was when the Labor Department contacted our attorney and said hey, you don't have, you know, a permit to film."
King then read a statement from TLC denying that its original agreement with the Gosselins is "null and void."
"There is no legal or factual justification for asserting that the agreement with TLC may be null and void. TLC has no doubt that its agreement with the Gosselin family is legally enforceable,'" the network said in the statement.
In addition, TLC released a statement to King that read, "location permits are not required for documentary filmmaking" -- however Heller contends Jon & Kate Plus 8 is not "documentary filmmaking."
"This is a staged proceedings," said Heller. "They're under direction and this is their argument. But, clearly, this is production. Remember, TLC made $186 million, rumor has it, for the quarter, as attributable to the Jon & Kate show. And they've really become a monster in Jon's mind. And Jon's not going to let this monster swallow up his family."
When asked by King if he also "made a lot of money" from Jon & Kate Plus 8, Jon bluntly responded, "No."
"Well, what did you make -- last year?" asked King.
"What did I make total, including the show?" questioned Jon.
"No, just the show," asked King.
"Just the show? Maybe a million dollars," he replied. "After taxes it's $500,000 divided by 10."
"Kate also made a million?" asked King, to which Jon responded, "No."
"The agreement is the Gosselin family. We're not -- it's not broken out. That's what we made -- $22,500 per episode," clarified Jon.
Jon did not provide any details on the family's income from numerous additional ventures, which have included books, speaking engagements, public appearance deals, and endorsement contracts that have resulted from the family's Jon & Kate Plus 8 participation, as well as the countless free merchandise, services and trips they have received as part of the show's product placement deals.
"And you're saying not fair in relation to the profits," asked King and Heller offered a response.
"They made $186 million and that money isn't allocated," he said, seemingly fixated on the figure.
"The Labor Department may come along and say, you know what, you never paid the kids anything. It's Jon, one sit -- one unit, Kate and then they take a third, a third and a third. And we may say, you know what, they're going to split that million dollars and you give another half a million dollars to the kids."
Although Jon & Kate Plus 8 is in its fifth season, Heller suggested the children's own assigned monetary compensation is also an issue Jon is now concerned about -- to which TLC responded via statement.
"Here's what TLC says," read King.
"'Contractually, the matter of designating specific compensation for children is the responsibility of Jon and Kate. However, TLC has actively and regularly encouraged the parents to establish compensation, trust arrangements for the children. Our understanding is that Kate has set up a trust for the benefit of the children with a substantial portion of the income from the show.'"
"Did TLC ask you to set up a trust for the children?" asked King.
"No," responded Jon.
While he's not a labor lawyer, Momjian said it is his belief that permits were not required and reiterated his contention that Jon is deliberately attempting to play out the family's issues in the media instead of court.
"I welcome the opportunity to prove it to a judge, and not to do it on television, but to prove it in court. And I think that's what's going to happen. But right now it hasn't happened, and I think the reasons are obvious. Jon wants to try this in the media. He doesn't want to go to a judge. He doesn't want to deal with the question of the best interests of the children. That's Kate's sole concern," said Momjian.
"I think that the parents get to make that decision, and one parent can't unilaterally make the decision not to have the children go forward. These children were participating as recently as Friday. I mean, and that's by agreement of both parties. What has happened since Friday, Larry? What's happened that gives Jon the right to unilaterally make any decision in connection with the taping of the show?"
King also read Kate's Thursday statement in which she said she was "saddened and confused" by the Jon's claims and noted that he was fine with filming "until as recently as the day the network announced the name change of the show and indicated that Jon would have a lesser role in the show."
"My interests are getting my kids off TV. That sounds like a typical TLC response," said Jon after King read Kate's statement.
"That's her response," pointed out King.
"Yes, OK. You know, being in it, I kind of understand," said Jon.
"You know, I'm here to apologize to Kate. I'm here to apologize to a lot of people. I have made mistakes."
While he failed to detail many of his "mistakes" he frequently alluded to during the interview, Jon did say that his September television interview in which he said he "despises" Kate was one of them.
"I really didn't mean despise. I regret saying that word. I despise the fact -- you know, I was very emotional," said Jon. "And sometimes in a divorce, you just say things that, you know, you don't really mean."
Additional "mistakes" Jon owned up to was being romantically linked to schoolteacher Deanna Hummell, former Star magazine reporter Kate Major, and former Gosselin family babysitter Stephanie Santoro -- although he reiterated his previous denies of relationships with all three women.
The one relationship Jon did say is very much real is the one with Hailey Glassman -- whom he has been dating since the summer.
"She stands behind me no matter what. Whether we're together or not, she said she stands behind me. She's a rock. She's always been there for me. Her family has always been there for me," said Jon, before adding, "The Hellers have always been there for me, since I've met them."
King asked Jon if he has any plans to marry Glassman.
"I don't know yet. I'm not even divorced yet. We take things day by day. You know, she supports me. She has never wanted anything from me, never taken anything from me," answered Jon before King asked if she knows his kids.
"No, she doesn't," replied Jon. "She knows of them. She met them a long time ago, four years ago. But it was just like for five minutes and then, you know, she was gone. She has seen Maddy and Kara before. She has never came to my house. We're not there yet."