In a new piece for VanityFair.com, Nancy Jo Sales asks the question, "How did two average parents from rural Pennsylvania with an outsize brood rise to such dizzying heights of stardom and tabloid infamy?" She interviewed Kate to find out.
The piece—"The Unreal Rise of Jon and Kate Gosselin"—paints a portrait of Kate as a woman trapped in the gilded cage of fame. And she's loving it. She enjoys that her hairdo is iconic, she's chatting on her cellphone with Kelly Ripa, and she's finally begun to win the media war against Jon, who keeps trying to rain on her parade and destroy her brand. "I'm running a business - hello?" she says.
Sales points out that since March 2009, the Gosselins have been on the cover of the celeb weeklies over 50 times, beating out other celebrities, including Brad and Angelina. She—like most of us—wants to know what "perfect storm made Jon and Kate this year's tabloid obsession." Although Sales met with Kate twice (once in August and again in September), Ginia Bellafante, TV critic at The New York Times, seemed to have a lot more insight into how a tabloid star is born:
It became a show that was completely suited to a multi-platform world. You can't just watch Jon & Kate on television and understand it anymore. You have to participate in it on all these different levels-tabloids, news shows, talk shows, the blogosphere. Jon & Kate became unintentionally brilliant because it demanded so much other consumption to find out what was ‘real.'
Sales' piece is a testament to that. Despite the fact that this story has been in the works for nearly three months, it doesn't appear in the current print issue; it's a web exclusive, which makes sense, seeing that mainly the Gosselin story seems to have a new and dramatic development, each day.
Part of what's propelling this story, as Richard Spencer of In Touch tells Ms. Sales, are Jon and Kate themselves. "Brad and Angelina try to be discreet, whereas Jon and Kate, they serve it daily to you on a platter." Sales also notes that, in this climate of cost-cutting, the Jon-and-Kate story is "cheap to produce; the price of paparazzi shots of the family runs significantly lower than pictures of the latest Kardashian wedding." And you can't argue with numbers. In Touch and Us Weekly almost doubled their sales with each Jon-and-Kate cover story.
With each tabloid story, it seems more and more likely that Kate's children are being exploited. And she tends to agree, but insists that this is the media's fault:
'The ones claiming we are exploiting our children,' Kate says—here referring to the tabloids and other media that have criticized her for putting her kids on television—'are the ones exploiting our children!'
Like many celebs, Kate also seems to have a love/hate relationship with the paparazzi. "They're all sort of bald and fattish, aren't they? They have a look," she says. Yet, while in a car going on a publicist-approved shopping trip to F.A.O Schwartz (because it would make Kate "look good"), "she leans out the window and yells to one of the bike riders, 'Hurry up!' She laughs her whooping laugh."
But perhaps this anecdote is the most revealing about Kate's view of herself, and her future:
A young British paparazzo is clandestinely snapping the transaction, his camera hidden under a stuffed animal. I ask him what he sees in Kate. 'She's a massive story at the moment,' he whispers. When I relay this comment to Kate, she scoffs, 'At the moment?'
Tabloid compilation via Vanity Fair.
The Unreal Rise of Jon and Kate Gosselin [Vanity Fair]