Entertainment Briefs for April 16, 2010
No legal action in 'Jon & Kate' labor probe
HORSHAM, Pa. - Child-labor permits should have been obtained for children appearing on the TLC television show "Jon & Kate Plus 8," but the state will not take legal action against the producers, Pennsylvania regulators have concluded.
No action will be taken if a portion of proceeds from the now-canceled reality program are put into a trust fund for Jon and Kate Gosselin's children and child-labor permits are obtained for future filming, the state Department of Labor & Industry said in a ruling made public Wednesday.
The new stipulations must be met or labor regulators may prosecute in the future, officials said.
Laurie Goldberg, a spokeswoman for Discovery Talent Services and TLC, said the companies have complied with state labor regulations and continue to do so. They agreed to get permits even though they maintain they are not required under Pennsylvania law, she said.
The state agency launched an investigation after receiving several complaints from the public beginning in late 2008, labor officials said Wednesday at a related legislative hearing.
Their probe concluded that during the filming of "Jon & Kate Plus 8," which followed the lives of the couple and their eight children, the kids were employed under Pennsylvania's Child Labor Law because of the direction they sometimes received, because of their continued participation in the series and because the Gosselins and others were paid for the show.
The Gosselins' twins were 9 and their sextuplets 5 during the show's final season, which ended last fall.
"It's important to note that we did an investigation, and we made sure the children were not in any danger or endangered as a result of the work they were doing," said Labor & Industry press secretary Troy Thompson.
But civil rights attorney Gloria Allred found it "rather shocking" that no penalties were assessed and that Pennsylvania labor officials - by their own admission - completed their investigation without visiting the Gosselins' house in Wernersville.
"That's where the workplace was," she said Wednesday at the hearing on reforming Pennsylvania's Child Labor Law.
Figure 8 Films, Discovery Talent Services, the Gosselins, TLC and other parties affiliated with "Jon & Kate Plus 8" all deny there were violations of the child-labor law or that permits were required.
Alisha Agemy with Figure 8 Films declined to comment.
Labor officials also ruled that at least 15 percent of the show's gross proceeds, due to the children, must be placed in irrevocable trust funds until they reach the age of 18 or unless needed for their safety, education, welfare or health.
The trust was established in November with more than the required 15 percent, Goldberg said.
Also Wednesday, Gosselin's brother Kevin Kreider testified at the hearing in Horsham that the state's child-labor laws need to catch up with the realities of today's media world.
Children in scripted TV shows are legally protected in ways that children on reality TV shows are not, he said, leaving the latter vulnerable to invasions of privacy, personal security risks, financial hardship and potential psychological damage.
Kreider lamented the potty training of his nieces and nephews is now available for anyone to see on DVD or the Internet, a statement that raised the eyebrows of several lawmakers concerned with child nudity.
Kreider participated in early episodes of the show but is now estranged from his sister. He said the kids were once falsely told it was Christmas in order to get "genuine" reactions.
"Can you imagine how confused eight little kids were that morning?" he said.
Goldberg responded in a statement by saying "the welfare of and respect for anyone on our network is always paramount, and these allegations are either completely inaccurate or a distorted representation for maximum attention."
Allred urged lawmakers to look at California's much stricter child-labor law, noting officials in that state issued citations to the Web site RadarOnline for its overly extensive filming of two of Nadya Suleman's octuplets being brought home from the hospital.
Rep. John Evans, a Republican from the Erie area, questioned whether the Gosselin case received special treatment by state labor investigators because of its connection to the entertainment industry.
Robert O'Brien, executive deputy secretary for the state's Labor & Industry Department, denied that. He said the state did all it could under the current law.
O'Brien and Rep. Thomas Murt said separately that they have been working to revise child-labor regulations to address issues raised by TV and Internet entertainment production.
TLC is planning to film some "Kate Plus 8" specials this summer now that the Gosselins have divorced. Kate Gosselin has custody of the children.
Larry King files for divorce in Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES - Court filings show Larry King has filed for divorce from his seventh wife.
The host of CNN's "Larry King Live" filed Wednesday in Los Angeles to end the couple's nearly 13-year marriage, citing "irreconcilable differences." He married Shawn Southwick in a hospital room in 1997 shortly before surgery to clear a clogged blood vessel.
He is seeking joint custody of the couple's two sons, ages 11 and 9. Howard Rubenstein is a spokesman for King. He says King's "major concern is the welfare of his children."
Rubenstein said King would not comment further on the divorce.
The filing was first reported by celebrity Web site TMZ.com.