On the one hand, you have a Maryland-based cable company with a dying show that it can’t even keep in production. On the other, you have a faltering network with sinking revenues looking for any way it can to make a buck off its celebrated brand. Sounds like a perfect TV marriage, no?
Those are the story lines behind TLC’s weird Monday-night production, “Kate: Her Story,” which the cable channel in grand-hype mode promises will be Gosselin’s “most intimate interview” ever. Sure.
But the surprising thing to me is the way in which NBC News is risking its reputation on such a dicey character as Kate Gosselin. Natalie Morales, NBC News correspondent, will conduct the interview with the mother of eight.
The one-hour program scheduled to air Monday at 9 p.m. is officially an NBC production, reviewed and approved by NBC News, according to Lauren Kapp, vice president of communications for the network news division.
“NBC news has final approval,” Kapp said in e-mail statement Friday to the “Sun” on Friday. “All shows produced by Peacock Productions are reviewed by NBC News management.” (AP Photo/Katy Winn)
In answer to a question asked over the telephone, Kapp said that while TLC hired NBC to produce Monday’s show, there was no deal between the cable company and the network to make Kate Gosselin available to NBC’s “Today” show for recent morning show interviews.
So, let me translate what this means, because there are larger stories here both in terms of where TLC stands with this beleaguered show and what’s happening at NBC, the last place major network.
“Jon & Kate” is dead as a doornail. They can’t use the kids as long as Jon stays with his court action to keep them off the air, and TLC is already about two beats past what it can do with only Kate. It had her read sanitized letters last week, and the audience edged up from 1.9 million the week before to 3 million. Two week ago, the audience was 2.5 million.
Even if the audience holds at 3 million, the show will still have lost more than 70 percent of its audience the last four months. I cannot think of any other prime-time series to which that has ever happened in the three decades I have been writing about TV. That is a massive tune-out.
So, now comes this interview Monday. TLC’s action doesn’t surprise me in the least. It can’t put a “Jon & Kate” epsiode on the air. So, it pays NBC to do a show in which one of the network’s newswomen interviews Kate, and the NBC Peacock Productions logo goes on the product.
TLC is trying to buy some of the credibility that the NBC News brand has built up over an impressive six decades of journalism. If Monday’s interview is a shameless softball session with Kate spinning her brains out and talking in code, while Morales nods approvingly and seems to sanction Kate’s words, the network shames all the people who once made NBC News great.
But, in fairness, let’s not pre-judge the interview. And let’s also admit in these revolutionary media days and hard economic times, that all sorts of journalistic institutions are getting involved in partnerships they would not have touched with a 10 foot pole just a few years ago. And the kinds of things Kate Gosselin says in interviews is definitely the stuff for which 10-foot poles were made when it comes to a news division’s credibility.
Remember how she told Meredith Vieira on “Today” that she had a purse full of bills she couldn’t pay because Jon stole all their money and she and the kids had only $1,000 left. Sure.