SHOWS COPE WITH OFF-SCREEN DRAMA

‘19 Kids and Count­ing’ is lat­est se­ries to face scan­dal

Los Angeles Times - - COMPANY TOWN - By Saba Hamedy

The Dug­gars might be seek­ing for­give­ness. But will Madi­son Av­enue lis­ten?

Jim Bob and Michelle Dug­gar, the stars of hit TLC re­al­ity show “19 Kids and Count­ing,” will make a bid to save their TV ca­reers Wed­nes­day when they talk with Fox News an­chor Megyn Kelly. It will be the fam­ily’s first TV sit-down since Josh Dug­gar, the el­dest son in the Arkansas fam­ily, ad­mit­ted to in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­tact with sev­eral un­der­age girls when he was a teenager.

The rev­e­la­tion — which coun­ters the Dug­gars’ im­age as a deeply re­li­gious and whole­some clan — was met with out­rage and anger on so­cial me­dia, elic­it­ing such hash­tags as #CancelTheDug­gars, #DitchTheDug­gars and #Boy­cottTLC.

But the tough­est blows came from com­pa­nies such as Wal­greens, Pay­less Shoe Source, Choice Ho­tels, Pure Leaf Iced Tea and Gen­eral Mills, which all said they would no longer be run­ning ads on the show. The Dis­cov­ery Net­works-owned TLC has pulled “19 Kids and Count­ing” re- runs from its lineup and has given no in­di­ca­tion that the se­ries will go back into pro­duc­tion. Stream­ing gi­ant Hulu, which also car­ries ads, has dropped the pro­gram as well.

Even if the Dug­gars can drum up public sym­pa­thy with their sched­uled TV in­ter­view, get­ting spon­sors to sup­port the fam­ily’s TV en­deav­ors again may be an in­sur­mount­able chal­lenge. Ad­ver­tis­ers tra­di­tion­ally avoid hav­ing their prod­ucts or ser­vices as­so­ci­ated with scan­dal or con­tro­versy, and with so many TV choices to­day, there are a mul­ti­tude of other places to run their spots.

Janet Jan­ji­gian, ex­ec­u­tive man­ag­ing direc­tor of the busi­ness con­sult­ing ser­vice Car­men Group West, said TLC would be bet­ter served by stat­ing its in­ten­tions for the fu­ture of the show. The net­work has re­peat­edly de­clined to com­ment.

“There’s a great deal to be said for just cut­ting your losses as a net­work and mov­ing on,” Jan­ji­gian said.

Of course, TLC may have al­ready de­cided to do that and just hasn’t an­nounced it yet.

Here’s a look at other shows in re­cent TV his­tory that have had to cope with off-screen dra­mas:

TLC

MEM­BERS OF the Dug­gar fam­ily star in the TLC re­al­ity se­ries “19 Kids and Count­ing.” Josh Dug­gar, the el­dest son, has ad­mit­ted to in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­tact with sev­eral un­der­age girls when he was a teenager.

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