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TLC's 'Sister Wives' reality show will document a polygamist family

The program about a man, his three wives and their 13 children will premiere in September.

August 06, 2010|By Joe Flint, Los Angeles Times

Get ready for a reality show version of "Big Love."

TLC, the cable network behind hits "Jon & Kate Plus 8" and "19 Kids and Counting," is hoping to strike ratings gold again with "Sister Wives," a series about a polygamist family in Utah that will premiere in September.

Much like the HBO drama "Big Love," which follows a polygamist and his three wives, "Sister Wives" is about Kody and his wives Meri, Janelle and Christine and their 13 kids. Unlike "Big Love's" Bill Henrickson, though, Kody is looking to add to his family by taking on a fourth wife, Robyn, who has three children of her own.

For TLC, "Sister Wives" will likely generate a little controversy, but the network is no stranger to that. Besides its shows about the now-divorced Jon and Kate Gosselin, TLC has been getting some heat for "Sarah Palin's Alaska," a documentary series featuring the 2008 vice presidential nominee, which is expected to premiere this year.

"We've never shrunk from a unique opportunity," said TLC President Eileen O'Neill. TLC has ordered seven episodes of the series and has an option to produce more if the ratings merit it.

Although the show features several young children, O'Neill said the kids were brought into discussions with Kody and his wives and that going forward with a show was a "thoughtful decision considered over time."

As for the motivations of the family in "Sister Wives," O'Neill said they are seeking to change the secrecy of their situation and are "looking for understanding."

The show is being produced by Figure 8 Films, the same company behind "Jon & Kate Plus 8." O'Neill said the network had not necessarily been in the market for a show about polygamy but that once they saw footage of Kody and his clan, the network jumped.

Although its shows about unusual families generate the most media attention, TLC has also developed a strong roster of programs about cooking, including "Cake Boss" and the brand new "DC Cupcakes." The fading interest in Kate Gosselin and her kids has not hurt TLC yet, because its overall ratings this year are up in viewers and among women, its primary demographic.

joe.flint@latimes.com

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