The Gosselins make up to $75,000 per episode on their TLC hit, Jon & Kate Plus 8, for a 20-episode season -- and that's not even counting all their freebies! As the Los Angeles Times reports that TLC is scrambling to find a way to revise the May 25 season premiere given the latest news on the couple, the delicate balancing act of how to incorporate reality into a heavily produced "reality" show is in the balance. For the Gosselin clan, it's not just their show -- but their lifestyle -- that hang in the balance.
Kate, who grew up in a trailer park and didn't go on her first airplane ride until her honeymoon to Disney World, now flies only first class for speaking engagements (mostly paid for by churches), sells signed photos of her kids for $20 a pop at appearances, and received a free tummy tuck after giving birth (Jon received a free hair transplant). A family source says while pregnant with the sextuplets, she grew "obsessed" with how many goodies the famed McCaughey septuplets received in 1997.
Jon, now a stay-at-home dad, was fired from his job at Style Craft Corp in 2004 after "spending much more time" on a "quest" for freebies than working, the company's owner, David Rothermel, tells Us. (Rothermel finally has spoken out after growing furious at the couple's well-worn claim that he was fired because the company didn't want to insure his family.)
"Instead of keeping the attention on their kids, they've let the attention turn to money and fame," says a family source of Jon and Kate, who, according to Nielson Media Research, are ranked No. 8 on the list of cable shows with the most product placement. Marc Berman, senior television editor at Mediaweek, says producers cannot continue to portray the Gosselins as an everyday family trying to raise eight kids. "Their lives have changed - they're not struggling anymore," Berman tells Usmagazine.com. "They're eating at fancy restaurants now. Yeah, they still have eight children, but things are different. Below, a sample of just some of the swag they've scored: - Free beds - Front-loader washing machines - New furniture - Free solar panels for "Going Green" episode - Clothes from Gymboree and Gap - Mady & Cara birthday at American Girl Place (2 dolls and birthday package for 2 adults & 2 kids): $710 - Trip to Florida Key's for Jon's 30th birthday -Tickets to Dutch Wonderland amusement park: $309.50 -1/2 an organic cow from Natural Acres Farm: $1,395.00 -Tickets to Philadelphia Zoo: $104.00 -Tickets to Walt Disney World: $654.00 per day - Utah house rental (estimate: $5,000), ski lift tickets $72 for six days), ski school lessons ($140 per child) - Upright piano, which they got rid of when they moved into their new $1.1 million home : $5,550-$6,350 - Violin: $100-$300 - Old house re-carperted -Crayola Factory Tour: $90.00 -Teeth Whitening (for Jon & Kate): $1,310 (average price for 2 adults) -Hair plugs (Jon): $5,200 (average cost) -Sesame Street Place tickets: $509.50 -Day with Thomas the Tank Engine: $180.00 -Beach trip to North Carolina, house rental, Jeep tour -Sight & Sound Christian theatre tickets: $236.00 -SkyBox at Phillies game -LegoLand tickets: $550.00 -San Diego Zoo tickets: $278.00 -Grand Wailea Resort (Hawaii) for 2008 vow renewal: Suites range from $725-$1,080 per night. -2 purebred German Shepherd puppies: $1,000-$3,000 per dog - Please Touch Museum tickets: $150.00 - Giants grocery store: $5,000 in gift cards and a year's supply of diapers In order for the show to survive, Mediaweek's Berman says the Gosselins need to be upfront with the audience. "They're now a celebrity couple," says Berman. "The emphasis of the show has changed, and they need to address how they've evolved." "If they don't evolve the show, I think the audience is going to be upset," he tells Us. "You can't fool an audience."