Is there any level of civility that has come from 4 years of being separated?
To being friends or acquaintances? That’s not happening. We still argue about custody. She says the kids want to do this and I’m saying, they’re right here saying something else, so she’s speaking for them and they’re speaking for themselves when they are here.
So emotions are raw?
Honestly Jimmy, I haven’t spoken in 4 years, so now I’m doing stuff and it is all coming out because I don’t care anymore. Are you going to sue me? I don’t care. I’ll go to court by myself and for what? For freedom of speech? For freedom of expression? For actually telling the truth? I’m not under injunction anymore and I think that’s the fear of the network and the fear of my former wife but the truth is actually going to come out because one day, I’m just going to snap. Then it is all going to come out. I’m not bashing her but she has got to do what’s right for the kids. You know? When lies come out, I’m going to defend myself. I’ll go to court and tell the judge, here’s the proof, this is what my child wants, and no more B.S. and branding and marketing and product placement. They’re children. The court’s job is to protect the children, not us. The state doesn’t care about us. The state cares about the kids and to uphold the law, so do whatever. I have no fear anymore. I have no fear of the network. I don’t have fear of my former wife.
You don’t have to answer to anyone?
Nope. And I know I’ll be fine. You know, finances are finances and it’s rough right now but finances are rough for everybody. I’m no different. I just happened to be on television. I just happened to do this. I happened to be from here. Who cares?
So no excuses?
Right. The hardest part about getting a job is, having people see me for what I am, a network engineer. A certified and qualified data base administrator. Not the stuff as Jon from television. That’s the hardest part. It took me 2 years to get a job. Plus I had 15 paparazzi following me around. No one wants that at their business but I can’t control that. Am I going to have all of these people following me around? I never thought about that then. Do you know what I mean?
Any time in the future that you think you and your former wife can be civil?
I don’t know? That’s all up in the air. I don’t know if it’s ever going to be to that point. Based on our history, no. But history can change. I don’t know why she doesn’t want to work together? I don’t know what the hate is, what the revenge is? She chose TV, she wanted to get divorced, she marketed the children. I just sit here. I really don’t go out that much. I stay on the deck. My friends and their kids come over, that’s pretty much what I do.
So you’re like every other parent in America?
Yeah. We involve the children. I have a lot divorced friends and we’re all going through the same things. ‘My ex this. My ex that.’ Here, it’s drama free. Bring your kids over and we’ll have a barbecue, we’ll cook 20 burgers, we’ll throw the whole pack on the grill.
Just like most of us do with our friends and families?
Pretty much, yeah. I don’t see myself as any better than anyone else. I mean I’m doing an interview but I don’t do anything differently than you or anyone else.
(To that point, Jon and I pulled in to his driveway at the same time because they had run out of milk and he had to run to the store for another gallon.)
I always revert back to, I just happened to be on television. I just happened to be on television for 6 years and worked on television. That’s the only difference. It was a job. On my resume, it’s a 6 year hiatus; and I have to put it on my resume. Network engineer, Governor’s office, Discovery Channel for 6 years, network engineer because employers want to know what I did for 6 years if they don’t know who I was. I’m not putting it on there to gloat; I’m putting it on there because it’s a 6 year gap. It’s weird.
There seems to be a lot of extra things that no one ever thinks about from being on television?
We were originally on a network with a 9 million viewership then we move to a network which is 91 million viewership. I mean 91 million households have the network in their house, that’s how they look at it. Things got huge. I had to get rid of my website because it was blowing up getting a millions of hits in a day, week, in a month. It was nuts. You can’t control it.
So you almost have to hire someone to handle it all?
You have to have a whole team, like 110 people. You have the production company everywhere all over the world, it’s insane. You don’t realize how big it is.
Have you had to censor what the kids see on the Internet or TV or have you tempered it with ‘Listen, this is what you’re going to see so…’?
I don’t even have television. I have apple TV and download what my kids can watch and that’s it and that’s how I regulate. The Internet? They’re going to go to school; they can sit in the library and Google themselves. So why would I censor it here? And people have gone, ‘Oh, that’s bad’ but I’m sitting right here, if they want to go to YouTube they can.
At least that way you have some level of involvement with it?
Yes. They get US Weekly in school, they get all the magazines in school, they read about everything. That stuff will be on servers for 10 years. So the mistakes I made, and the people I dated, I will have to own up to that. That is not anyone else’s responsibility to tell me what to tell my child. I will tell them. What I did at that time and what was going on in my mind at that time. That’s my responsibility. Yes I made mistakes. Yes I have regrets about doing certain things but I don’t regret doing them, I regret the situation because I’ll tell you what, I learned a lot about myself and about other people. Rather than being 50 and being burned for 30 years and people talking about you behind your back, I learned young. So I became very strong, and educated, and more outspoken. I was a quiet mouse on the show because my personality wasn’t developed yet; I didn’t know who I was or how strong I could be. Now?
(Jon makes a gesture as if to say, those days are behind him.)
But I’m still guarded. I still have laws, I still have back patterns, and I can’t tell you everything. I know my legalities and where I can get in trouble.
I think you would have to be considering the circumstances?
You have to be careful who you trust. What are people’s intentions? I feel them out. There are certain questions I ask, just like a reporter. I feel you out and I’ll ask you questions at certain times and in different ways to see if you keep the same answer and I just keep it all straight in my head. The same goes for texting. Go back, ‘Oh, you said this back here and now you’re saying this?’ Peace out, have a nice day!
(Jon puts up a hand and waves as if to say good bye to the person he was vetting.)
And I have no problems cutting people off. What are your intentions? Why would you date someone with 8 children? I revert back to, ‘I wouldn’t want to date someone with 8 children.’ You know what I mean? I want to know the answer. I can take care of my kids so whoever comes in to my life doesn’t really have to take care of them. I know what I need to do in order to take care of them. It’s not their responsibility. If you want to spend time with me after the fact, that’s fine. I can’t give you a 110% in a relationship because of them…
(Jon points to the sliding doors leading to the house and to his kids gathered around the sofa watching Despicable Me.)
Do you know what I mean? It’s unconditional. You know, you don’t understand that if you’re not a parent so it’s like it’s a weird fence. It’s weird.
It’s got to be.
Yeah. Are you dating me because I’m famous or are you dating me because you think I’m wealthy? Because half the world thinks I’m sitting on a pile of money.
I think that is the general perception.
Google my name and it’s, ‘His net worth is a million dollars’. Really? Where? Because I know how much I paid for my divorce, I know how much I paid to the network for getting sued. I know how much I paid out in lawyers. I know what I owe, which is astronomical. But it’s done. I can’t do anything about it. It’s a guilt on my part and my shoulders but I don’t know if I’ll ever make that much money again. And I don’t necessarily care. I have to take care of myself. And people are going to have to eat it. That’s the way it is, which sucks because money can ruin relationships. Money can ruin a lot of stuff. I’m glad those people helped me but I helped people in return. I helped a lot of people in return. I’d garner business for people, I’d promote for people, I gave people money, I helped family out and that’s what I did because I was always about taking care of other people instead of taking care of myself. That’s why I ended up in this situation. Yes, it’s not smart but again, I don’t regret doing it because those people are fine and I have so much time. I keep thinking like I’m going to die tomorrow…I’m 36 years old. In 9 years the little kids will be 18. Mady and Cara will both be 21.
(Jon sits back in his seat to reflect on the years.)
You know…I don’t even want to think about that (we laugh). But that’s why you surround yourself with good people. That’s why I got in to the situation in New York and LA. I was surrounding myself with people who just wanted to take advantage. Because I had money they tell you they can give you things. You get caught up in fame and money and everything that’s going on and it just becomes this huge cluster. Because we’re from here! I didn’t grow up in New York or LA. To a New Yorker, I don’t care if you live in Reading, Exeter, Wyomissing, anywhere, you’re a farm boy. This is country. My New York friends come here and this is country. Once traffic lights are no longer existent, once there are no more lines on the road, when everything is closed at 5 o’clock, you live in the country. That’s it. So I’m technically a country boy. My grandparents were farmers, I’m a country boy.
(Jon breaks out into laughter.)