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The TV Column by Lisa de Moraes

Jon and Kate Gosselin announced they were separating -- and a record audience watched.
Jon and Kate Gosselin announced they were separating -- and a record audience watched. (Mark Arbeit -- Associated Press)
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By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, June 24, 2009

When "Jon & Kate Plus 8" announced Monday that Jon & Kate were splitting, it became cable's No. 1 unscripted series telecast. Ever.

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Here's a look at that historic development and last week's ratings ups and downs:

WINNERS

"Jon & Kate Plus 8." About 10.6 million of you tuned in to TLC on Monday night to watch Jon and Kate Gosselin announce they are splitting. Besides its No. 1 status among unscripted telecasts, it's also the second most watched cable series episode of any kind, ever -- behind only a "Hannah Montana" episode that immediately followed the premiere of "High School Musical 2" back in '07. I think it's safe to say those eight adorable children are going to continue leading their lives under the constant watch of TV cameras and paparazzi into their teens.

"Real Housewives of New Jersey." Restaurant-brawl finale of Bravo network series drew 3.5 million viewers -- the biggest crowd for any "Real Housewives" episode anywhere.

CBS. Nine of last week's 10 most watched programs on all of TV were on CBS -- including reruns of "NCIS," "Two and a Half Men," two episodes of "The Mentalist," "CSI," "CSI: Miami," "Big Bang Theory," "Criminal Minds" and "60 Minutes."

LOSERS

"CBS Evening News." Logging only 4.9 million viewers, the "CBS Evening News" slipped below 5 million viewers for the first time ever, even though Katie Couric took the week off. Sorry, that was too easy. Anyway, ABC's Charlie Gibson-less evening newscast was also down -- half a million viewers from one week earlier -- as was NBC's evening newscast, though Brian Williams reported for duty.

"Saving Grace." Tuesday's third-season kickoff of TNT's Holly Hunter cop drama logged 3.5 million viewers. Last summer's second-season opener copped more than 5 million.

* * *

Getting back to Jon & Kate, The Reporters Who Cover Television had their knickers in a bunch yesterday over an Associated Press report that the parents of eight and their show's producers had been deceiving the public for ages because they've actually been living apart for two years.

"Kate Gosselin says in divorce papers that she and her husband Jon have lived 'separate and apart' for at least two years," the AP shrieked.

"The Gosselins had portrayed themselves as happy until the past few months, even renewing their wedding vows in Hawaii last year," the AP continued to vent. Its hopped-uppedness was based on Kate's divorce filing, a copy of which the AP had obtained Tuesday.

Not so fast, said TMZ, explaining there are two grounds for a no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania: file papers claiming irreconcilable differences and wait 90 days; or live separate and apart for two years. Kate, it turns out, checked the boxes for both grounds -- clever girl! -- in case John disagrees with the whole "irretrievably broken" thing. But that doesn't mean Jon & Kate have been separated that long. Kate just checked the box "to get the clock ticking," TMZ said.

Is it the first sign of the apocalypse that TMZ appears to be the voice of reason and the Associated Press the hysteric? AP later corrected its story.


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