Terry Morrow: Bates family of Lake City braces for TLC reality fame

The Bates family gathers on the porch of their farmhouse in Lake City. Parents Gil and Kelly Jo, center, welcomed their 19th child to the world on Feb. 1, 2012.

Photo by Special to the News Sentinel

The Bates family gathers on the porch of their farmhouse in Lake City. Parents Gil and Kelly Jo, center, welcomed their 19th child to the world on Feb. 1, 2012.

Zach Bates is the oldest of the Bates children.

Photo by Bob Fowler

Zach Bates is the oldest of the Bates children.

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 morrowt@knoxville.com.

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Comments » 9

fivepointcalvin#532723 writes:

TV may be a big time waster for him, but he'll be happy to have you waste your time watching his family of morons because he can make a lot of money off of it. what a hypocrite.

whizkidtn writes:

in response to fivepointcalvin#532723:

TV may be a big time waster for him, but he'll be happy to have you waste your time watching his family of morons because he can make a lot of money off of it. what a hypocrite.

Wow, what a silly comment!
Calvin would not approve.

literate writes:

Yes, exploit these chidren a bit more then complain when others regard them unkindly. When they are public figures, they can not complain. Right Palin children?

punky1794#211296 writes:

If you don't like the way they live or you think he is a hypocrite don't tune in! simple as that! Also name calling shows your level of maturity! GROW UP!

MerrieLong writes:

in response to punky1794#211296:

If you don't like the way they live or you think he is a hypocrite don't tune in! simple as that! Also name calling shows your level of maturity! GROW UP!

No worries here. Won't be tuning in. Hate all of these so-called "reality" shows.

Funny how China charges you to have more than one baby, but America rewards you with things such as welfare, food stamps, or a reality show!

markwll writes:

I have known the Bates since before their marriage and they have consistently, humbly pursued God's desire for them and their family. They live within their means and God's provision with no hint of entitlement. I would expect that there would be criticism from today's society. Conviction and contrast produce that.

Horace writes:

I know this family and they are the most caring, ethical, honest, and hardworking family...more than I can imagine from some of those posting here....they should be ashamed of themselves making the comments they have....if they have any shame. Did your parents not teach you respect?

literate writes:

in response to Horace:

I know this family and they are the most caring, ethical, honest, and hardworking family...more than I can imagine from some of those posting here....they should be ashamed of themselves making the comments they have....if they have any shame. Did your parents not teach you respect?

Respect? Bc their reproductive organs work overtime?
Now if they’d fostered 20 hungry children, then I’d respect their mission.

utvols2012 writes:

So, they aren't ok with their children watching tv, but exploiting those same children on tv for money is ok? I like how it says they asked for money and TLC agreed.... like they weren't talking money from the very beginning.

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