The Price Of Fame

I have to admit, I've watched not a single moment ever of "Jon & Kate Plus 8." (TLC, 9 p.m.) I frankly don't understand the appeal of watching a family's supposed "normal" life, especially when it's anything but.

However, I've read so much about the Gosselin family, I feel like I'm all caught up with all their issues.

Last Monday, the new season premiered to a whopping 9-plus million viewers, double the usual audience and a huge number for any cable offering, thanks mostly to the reports of Jon's infidelity and Kate's shrewish behavior.

With twins plus sextuplets to raise, I'm sure the money the Gosselins are raking in from their fame is probably necessary, but I wonder how much good it will do if the family tears itself apart, which seems to be the case.

More to the point, I wonder why people are so interested in people who are famous for being famous.

Across the pond, Susan Boyle found out the downside of fame for the past week, as she was heckled by some tabloid reporters. When the 48-year-old Scotswoman finally lost her cool, it gave the tabloids great fodder.

It probably also cost Boyle the title for "Britain's Got Talent." She finished runner-up to a youth dance troupe called Diversity. (Not to take anything away from the kids -- they did have some moves).

But Boyle became so popular around the world that it seemed like people were waiting for her to fail. Since "BGT" picks the winner from fan votes, like "American Idol," it could be that a lot of people were turned off to Boyle thanks to the negative press, given that she was such a heavy favorite going in. When she performed "I Dreamed A Dream" once again in front of the judges, all three of them gave her high praise, and she was clearly their favorite.

I don't know what it is about us as a society where we want to see people who get some sort of fame immediately fall flat on their face. For the Gosselins, neither of whom seem particularly nice and whose fame seems to come at the expense of their young kids, it's perhaps easier to understand the schadenfreude at their current woes.

For Boyle, the feel-good story of the year, it's less understandable, unless it comes down to jealousy, seeing someone succeed through talent that few people have. Boyle, at least, will come out of this fine. She will almost assuredly be signing her own record deal now that the show is over and has enough renown that she should be a regular performer, both in Britain and beyond.

After all, people like Clay Aiken and Jennifer Hudson didn't win "American Idol," yet they seem to be doing pretty well for themselves.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: Speaking of faux celebrities, NBC begins the so-called reality series "I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" at 8 p.m., based on the British show. Among the contestants is the wife of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. 'Nuff said.

ABC counters with "The Bachelorette" at 8 p.m. I don't watch the show, but the reviews the next day at are hilarious. It's followed by a new "Here Come The Newlyweds" at 10 p.m.

NBC has a new "Medium" at 10 p.m. Why in the world did CBS pick this up, yet drop the much-better rated (if more expensive) "Without A Trace?"

Later in the evening, Conan O'Brien makes his debut as the fifth-ever permanent host of "The Tonight Show" (NBC, 11:30 p.m.) The guests are Will Ferrell and Pearl Jam.

On cable, "Greek" (ABC Family, 8 p.m.) is new. And The History Channel airs the new eight-part documentary, "Expedition Africa," in which modern explorers follow the trail of Henry Stanley.