Report: Other shows behind Jon Gosselin's 'Jon & Kate' halt demand
By Christopher Rocchio, 10/01/2009
Jon Gosselin's demands that TLC stop production on Jon & Kate Plus 8 were reportedly motivated by the network's refusal to allow him to star in other reality shows without its approval.
Gosselin has been attempting to quit Jon & Kate Plus 8 for several months and while TLC was willing to continue paying him for the reality series without actually having him have to appear on it, the network was unwilling to release him from his exclusive contract so he could appear on another shows, sources told TMZ in a Thursday report.
Production sources told TMZ that Gosselin's lawyers had threatened to stop Jon & Kate Plus 8's production by claiming it was bad for the eight Gosselin children if TLC wouldn't agree to let him appear on on "any show he wanted" -- and that's exactly what has unfolded, as his lawyer demanded TLC "cease and desist" any television production on his family's Wernersville, PA property or face potential criminal charges in a Tuesday letter to the network.
However additional sources close to Gosselin told TMZ the Jon & Kate patriarch had been complaining about the children's participation "for months" and the children have also complained.
Mike Heller, Gosselin's manager, also alleged the children have complained about the show's filming during a Thursday interview with People.
"Basically we've put a halt on the show," Heller toldPeople. "Jon has been talking to TLC for a long time to cut back on the production and still honor his contract -- because it's been getting in the way of his family, his children are complaining."
While the Tuesday letter is dated the same day that TLC announced plans to re-launchJon & Kate Plus 8 as a Kate Gosselin-focused series that will be retitled Kate Plus 8 and feature Jon on a "less regular basis," Jon's recently-hired new lawyer -- Mark Jay Heller, Mike Heller's father -- told The Insider that he and Jon have been in discussions to pull the plug on the progam and end the children's filming for weeks before the announcement.
However sources told TMZ that Jon was "blindsided" by TLC's Tuesday announcement and feared it would result in his eight children having larger roles on the show.
Production sources denied the concerns, telling TMZ the kids would not be on camera more just because the show would feature less of Jon.
According to the letter from Jon's lawyers to TLC's legal team, he "unequivocally believes that his children's continued participation in your client's television production is 'detrimental' to his children."
The new "detrimental" claim directly contradicts Gosselin's own repeated public statements about allegations Jon & Kate Plus 8 was exploiting the children.
"Exploited? I don't even want to use that word, because I think it's ridiculous," he told People in a June interview after Kate's brother Kevin Kreider and his wife Jodi alleged the children were being exploited and Pennsylvania's Labor Department launched an investigation into whether the show was complying with child labor laws.
"Maybe people should look that word up in the dictionary and learn what it means before they use it in headlines. We're a family that happens to be on TV, not a TV family. We have healthy, happy, well-adjusted, educated kids. They're bouncing around and having a good time. Kate and I have worked our hardest to raise them that way."
Jon had also reiterated his support for the show in a September interview with ABC's Primetime program.
"I would stop it. I am not going to make them film. They're not being forced to film," he said.
TLC denied Jon's allegations in a brief statement issued after reports of his demands first surfaced Thursday morning. Similar to Tuesday's Kate Plus 8 press release which noted TLC would "continue its exclusive relationship with Jon" despite his reduced role, Thursday's statement appeared to intentionally note the network's "exclusive contract" with Jon.
"We are aware of Jon Gosselin's recent statements, and remain deeply disappointed at his continued erratic behavior. He and the family were shooting as recently as last Friday, without incident, and his latest comments are grossly inaccurate, without merit and are clearly opportunistic," TLC said.
"Despite Jon Gosselin's repeated self destructive and unprofessional actions, he remains under an exclusive contract with TLC. Direct filming of the children has been currently suspended, pending further conversations between both parents."
While he had publicly denied stating he wanted to leave the show as recently as late August, Jon has made numerous statements indicating his Jon & Kate Plus unhappiness since his initial public appearances with other women launched the couple into the center of the media spotlight earlier this year.
"I wish I had a 9 to 5 job instead of the nightmare I'm living. This is 24/7," Jon allegedly toldUs Weekly in late August. "I don't even want to do taping for the show anymore... I have two houses and eight children to take care of and I need to work."
"I never said that," he told People at the time. "A fan asked me, 'Don't you sometimes wish you could go back to a 9-to-5 job?' [And my reply was,] 'Yeah, because this is 24/7 and 9-to-5ers punch in and punch out and you have no responsibilities.'"
The August incident wasn't the first time Jon had made headlines by suggesting a desire to leave the show. Even before the couple filed for a no-fault divorce in June, Jon had expressed uncertainty about continuing to appear in the TLC reality series that made him a household name.
During Jon & Kate Plus 8's fourth-season finale which aired in March, he had openly speculated whether the show would continue with future seasons.
"Maybe we'll be back, maybe we won't," he said during the finale.
"It's hard being on this side of the camera... and trying to live your life, and people see your life as episodes, and you see it as a date on the calendar. It's tough. I can't be 'Jon.' I have to be 'Jon & Kate Plus 8,' which is a real hard thing for me and I still haven't come to grips with it."
However Jon & Kate Plus 8's renewal was announced the following month -- leading to Jon calling the show a "business" during May's fifth season premiere.
"This is a different kind of career because this is your life and your career. In no other place does that exist," he said during the premiere. "We originally did the show to document our kids lives and I mean it's become a business just like anything else."
Jon's uncertainty about his long-term future with the show had also been discussed in Jon & Kate Plus 8's June 22 fifth-season broadcast, which featured the couple's formal separation announcement and aired on the same day as their divorce filing.
"It's day-by-day for me, I don't know what's going to happen," Jon said about his commitment to the show and the shared custody and separate filming schedules the couple was developing at the time. "I mean I could get offered a job... and that'd change the whole schedule. I don't know."
Jon later stated he didn't feel any particular loyalty to Jon & Kate Plus 8 and was only doing the show until "something better" came along in an August interview with In Touch Weekly.
"I'll do the show until something better comes up," he said. "But I don't want it to end because that is my job. That's my financial means -- we have a lot of stuff to pay for, like education. I'm sure there are things that are more financially beneficial. If I leave the show, then I leave the show -- that's how it is."
Jon's "something better" list had reportedly included Divorced Dad's Club, a tentatively-titled new reality series that would have also starred Michael Lohan and Kevin Federline, however his exclusive TLC contract prevented his participation in the project.
"There's contracts and all this stuff. That's why I have a legal team, that's why I have management. They'll have to work it out," he told ABC's Primetime program in an interview broadcast earlier this month. "I might not be able to do it."