Pop Culture

How to fix ‘Jon and Kate’? Lose the ‘Eight’

“Jon and Kate Plus Eight” has been hemorrhaging viewers since Jon and Kate Gosselin announced their split in the show’s record-setting season premiere.

Of course, this isn't shocking. When you change the institution on which the show was predicated, you’re going to lose some fan base.

What did come as a surprise was how Jon acted in the weeks that followed. In situations that ranged from promotional appearances to romantic interests, he did the opposite of what a father of eight, who happens to have a television show in peril, should do.

So it makes sense that TLC would rename the show “Kate Plus Eight” beginning Nov. 2. The network says that Jon will make some appearances, but the show will be mostly about Kate's new role as a single mother to eight children.

But this won’t fix the show. If TLC really wants to do that, then it needs to lose the "Plus Eight" and simply become “Kate.”

Kate Gosselin is and has always been the show’s central character. How she mothers, how she bosses her husband around, how she cuts her hair and tucks her tummy — that’s what the show is really about.

TLC is on the right track by downplaying Jon — he’s just become too difficult to watch now. But if the show takes that a step further and makes Kate the clear central character and the kids just occasional guests, and you protect the brand and most importantly, the kids.

Speaking of Jon, the same day as the show announced it would be squeezing him out, In Touch Weekly reported that Jon filed paperwork to “put the brakes” on his divorce, or at least stall dissolution of his marriage by 90 days.

In an accompanying statement, Jon said, “This will enable Kate and me to restore our relationship as cooperative parents and to open up our lines of communication. I hope that she will be as receptive and enthusiastic as I am to do what is best for our family … I asked my attorney to put the brakes on this divorce so I could try to regain control over the future of our family. So Kate and I could join on a cooperative course that would benefit our family — not destroy it.”

That’s the strongest language I’ve heard from Jon since I was lucky enough to be within earshot when he asked reporters to “please write something nice” about him. Moreover, it’s a clearly well-lawyered statement: so what’s it really mean?

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Family law attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan (who represented Kevin Federline during his divorce, and is not working with the Gosselins) gave his take on Jon’s statement.

“He’s in a custody battle, so he’s saying the right child-centered speak,” Kaplan said. “The question is, does it reflect that he’s had a child-centered epiphany? At least on issues of the divorce related to custody of the kids?”

Kaplan suggests that Jon’s statement will be viewed favorably by the courts, regardless of the motives behind the statement or the fact it was given to a magazine, and not said under oath.

“(Jon) needs to show that whatever issues (he has) with Kate, or she with him, that’s not going to be what drives the relationship with kids,” said Kaplan. “A parent who does or says the right thing before the court is looked upon more favorably by the court. A court doesn’t rule based on what makes someone say something,” said Kaplan.

And let’s not forget about how “Kate Plus Eight” might factor into the equation.

“Isn’t being a bigger part of the custody (arrangement) the best way for you to not get axed out of the show entirely? Call me cynical,” said Kaplan.

It’s probably not cynical. Just reality, so to speak.

Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on msnbc.com. Follow Scoop on Twitter @courtneyatmsnbc

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