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Divorce is terrible, even if you're Jon and Kate


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POSTED: Thursday, August 06, 2009

When a series used to be cute and happy but now awkwardly navigates marital tension and divorce, who wants to watch it? I must admit that I approached the new “;we're sick of the public attention but we have to continue the 'family' show because it pays so well”; season of “;Jon and Kate Plus 8”; with some trepidation. And judgment.

Jon Gosselin, who is supposed to be our guy from Hawaii, has been behaving like he's 12. Seriously, I'm so over his new earrings, high school T-shirts and revolving door of fame-hungry girlfriends better suited to babysitting. In his show interview — they do them alone on the couch now — he explained that he's proud of himself for standing on his own two feet. His biggest disgruntlement seemed to be the constant paparazzi stalking (which does look unbearable).

I didn't expect much from entertainment that now focuses on a highly unpleasant reality for way too many families. The problem with Jon and Kate is that they fall somewhere in between helping us escape reality (how fabulous!) and making us feel good about ourselves (what a disaster!). I don't want to watch them snipe at each other. I don't even want them in the same space together. Yet they still have it far better than most divorcing couples. A kitchen remodel in a lovely home? Trotting off for a beach vacation? It is another type of reality, to be sure.

Despite all of this, Monday's episode elicited feelings of sympathy. Who wouldn't feel badly for Kate, as bossy as she can be, when she admits that she doesn't want to be alone, and doesn't want to raise eight kids by herself? I even felt sorry for Jon a couple of times. It really doesn't matter who you are, it turns out. Divorce is terrible.

The moments when they recounted their favorite memories from the past five years were probably the most heartwarming aspects of the episode. The Hawaii vacation — of which producers rolled footage — ranked among the best. It's a reminder to salvage the good stuff out of the wreckage. The good news is, there's usually quite a bit.

We'll see how the season progresses. ...

...

SPEAKING OF reality (or not), “;General Hospital”; heartthrob/Calvin Klein underwear model Antonio Sabato Jr. has a new VH1 series about his search for love. “;My Antonio”; invited 13 women — I'm guessing they weren't ugly — to Hawaii to vie for Antonio's affection.

Premiering at 7 p.m. on Aug. 16, “;My Antonio”; is billed as a “;real-life soap opera.”; This actually makes sense when you learn that one of the women is Sabato's ex-wife. His mother also tags along to help him choose the right gal. Yep, 10 episodes of ex-wife, mother and attractive women eager to plaster their dating successes and failures all over national television. But it will be nice to see the wickedly fit Sabato emerging from the ocean and participating in other sports that make his six-pack abs pop.

I enjoyed a long conversation with him last year when he first began shooting, and he does not miss a workout, that's for sure. Interestingly, he seems to be taking the show as seriously as he does his health.

“;I've been with some of the most amazing women in the world, and, at the age of 36, I'm finally ready to settle down,”; he said in a statement, echoing what he told me in our interview. “;I really hope to meet that special someone. For me, this is not a game. This is real. This is my life. ...”;

On a more serious note, catch documentary films out of Australia, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Canada at “;Big Screen Pacific: Cultural Forum Through Film.”; It starts at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow and runs through Sunday at the Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Academy of Arts. All films are free and open to the public. A post-screening discussion is included. Tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. For details, visit www.honoluluacademy.org, or call 532-8768.

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Contact Katherine Nichols at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).