CARYVILLE — Even having their own reality series won't lure the Bates family into buying a TV for their home.
"TV can be a big time-waster," says patriarch Gil Bates of the medium in general. "We're not about to get a TV."
When their reality special "The Bates Family: Baby Makes 19" airs (10 p.m. Tuesday, TLC), the whole lot of them will go to a local Holiday Inn to tune in.
But if reality TV gives them a higher profile, the Bateses may not be able to take such getaways. For TLC, the Lake City family — consisting of Gil, his wife Kelly and their 19 children, ranging in ages from 1 month to 23 years old — is a natural focus. TLC has had great success with the Duggars of Arkansas and their series "19 Kids and Counting." Also, this is the place that gave birth to "Jon and Kate Plus Eight."
And, familiarity breeds success. Pardon the pun.
TLC executives already are so impressed by the family's appeal they are making the special into a series, with eight episodes and debut in June.
The special and subsequent untitled series will look at the Bateses' every day life — from how they do laundry to the logistics of operating as a family.
As highly conservative Christians worshiping in an independent Baptist church, the Bateses could nab the audience embracing the Duggars.
Eldest son, Zach Bates says the show will not interfere with his role as an Anderson County commissioner. Kelly says TLC is "considerate" of the family's comfort level.
However, cameras were around when Kelly gave birth to the 19th child. The cameras were discreet, and not present when the baby arrived.
The Bateses are prepared for the criticism aimed at them. "We've already experienced that, even before we did a TV show," says Kelly. "We know not everyone is going to think like us. All we can be responsible for is us."
Gil says his family is ready to deal with it. "We're not looking for (criticism)," he says, "but we'll respond to it."
Gil asked for compensation for the family in order to do the series since production would take away from their work time (as operators of a tree removal service) and their privacy. TLC agreed to pay them.
Production will continue through the end of April at the Bates home.
Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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