'Jon & Kate Unleashed'

| Friday, May 29, 2009

WERNERSVILLE -- After their father's rumored infidelity sent the show's ratings soaring, the youngsters who helped make "Jon & Kate Plus 8" a success are being de-emphasized.

The children will be sent away to boarding school to allow The Learning Channel show to explore more mature themes. The program's producers also announced today that the reality program will be rechristened "Jon & Kate Unleashed."

"The kids will still make occasional guest appearances, primarily around the holidays," executive producer Benny Temberton said at a news conference outside Jon and Kate Gosselin's home. "But we're definitely retooling the show into something sleek, something sexy -- and perhaps even a little sinister."

Since its inception, the show has centered on the logistical challenges the Gosselins face in raising their now 8-year-old twin girls and 5-year-old sextuplets.

The nearly 10 million viewers who watched the show's fifth-season premiere Monday were more than double the program's previous largest audience. The boost has been attributed to numerous tabloid reports that Jon has been unfaithful to Kate.

Temberton would not confirm or deny those stories but called them a "fantastic opportunity" to break free from a format that was growing stale.

"What we've been dealing with since the show debuted is this: Jon and Kate have eight kids. That sure makes for a lot of dirty clothes piling up in the laundry room," Temberton said. "By now, the audience gets that."

Once the children are dispatched to a far-off locale -- Temberton mentioned Switzerland as a possibility -- the show will revolve around the Gosselins' troubled marriage.

"To fill the vacuum left by the children, we'll have a mysterious stranger with some skeletons in his closet move next door to the Gosselins," Temberton said. "Will Kate be tempted to become romantically involved with him if she and Jon separate• You'll have to tune in to find out."

Temberton dismissed the idea that such a manipulation of events might taint the program's reputation as reality based.

"Oh, come on. These people put makeup on every morning before breakfast so they can be videotaped eating their Shredded Wheat," he said. "You call that reality?"

He also scoffed at the notion the Gosselins would be lonely without their children.

"They'll still have family around," he said. "The production crew isn't going anywhere."

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