TLC Tinkering With ‘Jon & Kate’

Execs at TCA say the show must go on, though with no couch.

“So, how long have you worked at the White House?”


That was the question TLC president and General Manager Eileen O’Neill was playfully asked at TCA Thursday, after carefully, coyly and laconically chatting with reporters about the continuing fate of her channel’s biggest and most controversial hit, “Jon & Kate Plus 8.”


“We will continue to capture this family’s journey in a respectful and thoughtful way,” said O’Neill, explaining how the show will go on now that its stars, Jon and Kate Gosselin, have filed for divorce.


Among the fundamental changes, O’Neill added, will be the removal of the couch on which the couple jointly chatted with the camera during the show’s first four-plus seasons. “It will be replaced separate interview chairs with Jon and Kate speaking separately. You’ll also see them parenting separately.”


The insight on the future of the show follows a period of radio silence from TLC, which has faced intense interests from tabloid media regarding the series.


In June, the show produced an all-time-high 10.6 million viewers for TLC, when the Gosselins announced their intention to divorce.


At that June 22 episode aired, Discovery-owned TLC announced that the show would go on hiatus, giving time to the series subjects, producers and network to, among other things, retool the family-oriented show to account for the separation, as well as calm advertisers regarding the wisdom of buying into the show going forward.


With ratings for the channel way up from a year ago, when she took over the then-struggling channel, and hits including recently launched reality show “Cake Boss” beginning to show momentum, O’Neill expressed a desire to focus on other programming besides “Jon & Kate,” despite its high ratings.


“We’ve had year-over-year growth for all demos and record ratings for women 18-34,” she said. “And I’m especially pleased that this came in July, when ‘Jon & Kate’ were on hiatus.”