- The Washington Times - Monday, November 23, 2009

No more Gosselins

You might say our national nightmare is over … at last.

TLC’s reality show “Jon & Kate Plus 8” ends its spectacular but stormy run Monday at 9 p.m., Associated Press reports.

During this final hour, Jon and Kate Gosselin, the estranged parents of young twins and sextuplets, will venture on separate outings with the children. (Mr. Gosselin will take them to a fire station near the family home in Wernersville, Pa. With Mrs. Gosselin, they visit a local dairy farm.) Each newly single parent will reflect on what the past has meant and what the future might hold.

And that will be it, says TLC.

It would seem the series is going out with a grateful sigh of relief, if not a whimper, after months of noise and upheaval. The feuding couple’s split came to dominate the series, as well as helping fuel a firestorm of tabloid coverage.

It was all good for ratings, of course. When the pair made their separation official on a “Jon & Kate” episode that aired in June, it was seen by a remarkable 10.6 million viewers. After that, production and airing of the series lurched in fits and starts to accommodate the Gosselins’ unraveling home life.

Outside the show, they made dueling he-said-she-said appearances on the talk-show circuit.

It was quite a change from 2007, when the series first clicked with viewers for its heartwarming look at a devoted couple and the challenges they faced rearing eight young children.

Then, in September, a revamped series was announced. “Jon & Kate Plus 8” was meant to segue smoothly into “Kate Plus Eight” this month, concentrating on the children and their mom. TLC’s president and general manager, Eileen O’Neill, described the new concept as “not a huge shift” and said Mr. Gosselin would still be involved, although in a reduced role.

That plan was apparently torpedoed by his objections to having the children displayed any longer on TV. Filming of the youngsters has been halted for weeks. “‘Kate Plus Eight’ is not in production,” TLC spokeswoman Laurie Goldberg said Thursday. “We are focusing on the launch of Kate’s new series in early spring.”

She said no details were available on what kind of show it might be.

For now, though, a case of viewer fatigue with the Gosselins and their domestic drama might be understandable. According to AP, a pair of episodes premiering last week averaged 2.1 million viewers.

New Sorkin show

“The West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin says he’s kicking around the idea of a new TV show — and like two of his three previous series, it will be set behind the scenes of a TV show, according Zap2it.com.

“It’s going to be what turns out to be the third in the trilogy of TV shows that take place behind the scenes of a TV show, but this will be a different kind of TV show,” Mr. Sorkin tells TV Guide magazine. “That’s all I can let out of the bag right now.” (There have been rumors he wants to do a show about cable news, Zap2it.com notes.)

Mr. Sorkin, who’s working on the screenplay for “The Social Network” — a movie about the founding of Facebook — has gone to the show-within-the-show well twice before. ABC’s “Sports Night” (1998-2000) was liked by critics but lightly watched. NBC’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” (2006-2007) didn’t do especially well on either front. Their combined runs (three seasons) don’t add up to the longevity of “The West Wing” (seven seasons, including four with Mr. Sorkin at the helm).

‘Scream’ continues

VH1 is renewing its horror-themed reality series “Scream Queens” for a second season, with the winner landing a role in the next “Saw” film, the Hollywood Reporter says.

“Scream Queens 2” has 10 aspiring actresses competing to win a role in “Saw 3-D,” the next movie in Lionsgate’s horror franchise.

Season one’s winner was featured in “Saw VI.” The reality sequel is slated to return next year with actress Jamie King serving as host and judge along with director Tim Sullivan and acting coach John Homa.

New premiere dates

ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and “Make It or Break It” will premiere Jan. 4.

The two shows’ season premieres were originally slated for a week later, on Jan. 11, the Hollywood Reporter says.

“Teenager,” which has a 12-episode order, and “Make It,” which has 10 new episodes, will be joined by fresh episodes of “Greek” on Jan. 25.

‘Simpsons’ adds Bomba

Ladies’ man Ricardo Bomba is bringing his charms to “The Simpsons,” and it’s all the doing of a hospital operations manager with a vivid imagination.

Peggy Black, 52, of Orange, Conn., won a contest to create a character for Fox’s long-running animated series, with her entry triumphing among the more than 25,000 received, Associated Press reported Thursday.

Bomba will be introduced in the Jan. 31 episode featuring guest star Chris Martin of Coldplay. The episode had been mostly completed, with a spot reserved for the contest character, AP said.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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