TLC files breach-of-contract suit against Jon Gosselin
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TLC has filed a breach-of-contract suit against Jon Gosselin, the co-star of its smash reality show ‘Jon & Kate Plus 8.’
The suit, which was filed this morning in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Md., where TLC parent Discovery Communications is based, is the latest in an escalating battle between Gosselin and the cable network. Gosselin is also in the midst of a bitter split from his wife, Kate Gosselin. The suit charges that Jon Gosselin violated his contract by taking paying gigs from other television shows without permission including the CBS-syndicated shows ‘Entertainment Tonight’ and ‘The Insider’ while still under exclusive contract.
Furthermore, the suit alleges that Gosselin has made nonpaying media appearances without TLC’s approval, which would also be in violation of his contract. The suit, which was filed on behalf of TLC by the powerful Washington law firm Williams & Connolly, says he has also harmed the show with his constant criticisms and, according to the suit, misstatements about being on the show and what goes on behind the scenes and revealing confidential information such as when he talked about his salary on CNN’s ‘Larry King Live.’ The suit seeks to force Gosselin to abide by his contract and return the money he has made for appearing elsewhere.
In a statement, TLC said it has been trying ‘privately and patiently’ for months to get Gosselin to honor his contract and ‘those efforts have been unsuccessful.’ Representatives for Gosselin could not immediately be reached for comment.
‘Jon & Kate plus 8,’ which premiered in 2007, follows the lives of a western Pennsylvania couple and their eight children. It was a modest success that exploded in the ratings after Gosselin became fodder for the tabloids for being seen out with women who weren’t his wife. In June, the show in which the couple revealed that their marriage was ending drew more than 10 million viewers. Since then, the Gosselins have dueled each other in the tabloids and on television. Both often appear on ‘Larry King Live’ and Kate Gosselin has popped up on NBC’s ‘Today.’ Of the two, Kate Gosselin has tried to keep a lower or perhaps slightly more dignified profile while Jon Gosselin has moved to New York City and is often seen in the the company of various women. Jon Gosselin has also indicated that he’s tired of the show.
Late last month, TLC said it would greatly reduce Jon Gosselin’s role and renamed the show ‘Kate Plus 8’ with new episodes set to premiere in November. Gosselin subsequently threatened to file a cease-and-desist order, which stopped production of the show, at least as far as filming the children was concerned. The suit says that Gosselin made this threat an hour after being informed that his role on the show was being reduced.
Regardless of how all this plays out, it appears that the show is definitely heading for the finish line. Kate Gosselin has been busy planning her TV future. She has been working on a pilot for a daytime talk show that would be produced and distributed by Warner Bros. TLC is also working on a project with her, and the cable network granted permission to Kate to pursue other ventures and her talk show and print interviews were also pre-approved.
For TLC, the Gosselins have been a double-edged sword. Although the show became a huge hit, it also has become a lightning rod for critics and a magnet for controversy and led some to criticize TLC. There is also concern from some advertisers and Discovery executives that the turn in tone of the program is at odds with TLC’s attempt to promote a wholesome brand. In a July interview with the Los Angeles Times, TLC President Eileen O'Neill said her first year as head of the network was ‘heaven and hell’ in no small part because of the headaches surrounding the show.
-- Joe Flint