Massucci's Take: Jon & Kate is about money, not love
It's curious that both items were announced on the same day: Jon gets demoted in TV-land, and he says he may want to be invited back into the house that has all those cameras rolling, in the name of love and family. The plan to turn the show into single-mom-raises-eight-kids may get kiboshed by Jon, who supposedly wants to reapply for full-time dad and high-income TV-star status.
What's love got to do, got to do with it? Nothing. It's about extending paydays for Jon -- and Kate, too. As long as they're married, Jon and Kate are still Jon & Kate. He saves face by being the dad who couldn't bear to live without his wife and kids, and he saves himself a jobhunt. Kate sells more books and makes more speeches as supermom and misunderstood (yet forgiving) wife. If she forgives and takes Jon back, she can say their kids are her top priority.
Kate's fame will continue at least in the short term, with or without Jon. She will star in a TV show co-hosted by the Food Network's Paula Deen, aimed at current and future mothers, RadarOnline.com reports. You think Jon wants a cut of that deal? If he stays married to Kate, he'll get it. Her payoff, if they stay married, is to keep her wife-and-mom image intact. Plus, it'd be less likely Jon would cash in by writing a tell-all memoir.
This flurry of Jon & Kate news came on the day TLC announced that Kate Plus 8 will debut November 2. Jon, whom TLC said will appear on the show less frequently, is booked for Thursday on Larry King Live on CNN, which has reported that the family receives as much as $75,000 per episode. Jon filed papers to stall his divorce from Kate for 90 days "to regain control over the future of our family." And the future of his, and their, payday? This 21st-century Brady Bunch won't go on much longer without mom, the kids, and dad living life under one roof.
The other night, my wife and I were flipping channels between Jon & Kate Plus 8 and ESPN's Monday Night Football. She didn't mind missing some of Jon & Kate for the game because, as she said, "It's become boring with just Kate and the kids." And therein lies the crux. Whether it was a ratings ploy or real-life drama played out in before the masses, Jon and Kate have raised the bar. The audience wants to see if the lion will eat the peasant; without that tension, the coliseum empties out, and ad dollars slip away.
In the old days, before Jon decided he wanted to party, an enticing aspect of the show was watching Kate verbally berate Jon. The perverse fun of watching how much Jon could tolerate, and the possibility that he might stand up for himself, kept us tuned in. At least with the two of them on the screen at the same time, there was tension in the air. Any good story needs such electricity. But now, with Jon playing in New York City and Kate taking the kids to the Carolinas on vacation, it's like watching rival teams playing on separate fields. Lucy needed Ricky, Sonny needed Cher, Heidi needs Spencer, and Jon and Kate need each other to keep their gravy train on track.
"I despise [her], because she's not speaking from the heart," Jon said this month on ABC's Good Morning America. "Please -- the stuff you tell me in private should be the stuff you tell me on TV." Even if he really does despise her now, what he must despise even more is the thought of life minus $75,000 an episode.
So how about owning up to what's really going on here, Jon? Speak from your heart. Tell us what you and Kate think what's best for your kids and their, and your, financial future is the income generated by the show. Tell us you want to stick around for the money. That's reality.
Anthony Massucci is a senior writer and columnist for DailyFinance. You may follow him on Twitter at hianthony.