In the weeks leading up to the season premiere of their hit reality series "Jon & Kate Plus 8," Jon and Kate Gosselin repeatedly have appeared on covers of celebrity magazines with reports that they have cheated on each other and that their nearly 10-year marriage is on the rocks.
Is the timing a coincidence or a publicity ploy?
One thing is for sure: The controversy is likely to boost attention and ratings for the couple's TLC show. When season five premieres May 25, viewers will tune in to see if the Gosselins, parents of 8-year-old twin girls and 5-year-old sextuplets, address their off-screen troubles on the show.
There's a chance they may. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reported that the first episode was not yet in the can, as producers tried to figure out how to incorporate the latest headlines into the show.
"We are in production for season five and moving forward as planned, while fully supporting the family and respecting their needs as they work through this challenging time," a TLC spokeswoman, Laurie Goldberg, said in a statement to ABCNews.com. "This show has always been about a real family dealing with real-life situations, and that will continue to be the case for the new season."
Fortunately for the show's producers, the Gosselins' current real-life situation happens to be of the headline-grabbing kind.
It started two weeks ago with Us Weekly reporting that Jon Gosselin had been in a three-month affair with 23-year-old school teacher Deanna Hummell. The magazine ran a photo of Gosselin sitting in the passenger seat of a car with Hummell behind the wheel.
He denied he was having an affair to Entertainment Weekly.
This week, Us Weekly reports that Kate Gosselin has grown suspiciously close to her bodyguard, Steve Neild, and Jon Gosselin has threatened to have her followed by a private investigator.
Kate Gosselin told People magazine in its cover story this week that she was "horrified" by suggestions she was having an affair with Neild.
She did reveal, however, that her marriage is in trouble and has been for a while.
"I don't know that we're in the same place anymore, that we want the same thing," Kate Gosselin said of her relationship with her husband.
But the marriage is not over yet.
"I will never give up hope that every member of our family can be absolutely happy again," she told People.
Kate Gosselin, who is also promoting the family's latest book, "Eight Little Faces," following their bestselling "Multiple Blessings," also has spoken about the current scrutiny of her marriage on the "Today" and "Rachael Ray" shows.
All this talk is likely to have a positive effect on both the book and the reality show, as singer Leann Rimes must have discovered when Us Weekly reported she was having an affair with actor Eddie Cibrian a week before their movie "Nora Roberts' Northern Lights" aired on Lifetime.
The television movie drew 4.5 million viewers, making it the network's most-watched movie so far this year. It was no doubt assisted by tabloid rumors that Rimes and Cibrian's steamy love scenes were more than just good acting.
Stories like these can actually work in a celebrity's favor, whereas the average Jill or Joe caught in an affair is more likely to be fired. Moreover, the timing for dropping a bombshell is no accident, either.
It's designed to get us talking and -- celebrities hope -- buying their books, seeing their films and tuning into their shows.
"Once you become a public figure, everything in your life is a business," Ian Drew, editor at large of Us Weekly, told ABCNews.com. "It's Superstar Inc. Thus, everything you do is timed toward how you can make money off of it. People that say otherwise, to protect celebrities, simply don't understand how the business works. Everything is done by choice and with careful planning, including supposed reactions. Like the old song, you've got to use what you've got if you want to get ahead."
No Stigma for Jennifer Aniston Posing Nude
These days, celebrities literally bare it all. Promoting her film "Marley and Me," which opened Christmas Day, Jennifer Anniston wore nothing but a man's tie on the December cover of GQ.
When her films "The Reader" and "Revolutionary Road" hit theaters, Kate Winslet appeared on the December cover of Vanity Fair, her hair teased into a 60s style, wearing only a white overcoat and platform heels.
"The stigma about nudity does not exist anymore," said longtime Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman. "You can find nude pictures of almost every male and female celebrity on the Internet, and most of them are real. Paris Hilton became famous not in spite of but because of a sex tape. Kim Kardashian became known for a tape. Younger people don't judge that issue."
"Sex sells and stars know it," Drew said. "And keeping up their profiles is how they get those roles. You gotta be hot or nobody wants to hire you."
Eric Dezenhall, a Washington, D.C.-based crisis management expert and author of "Damage Control," is uncertain of the payoff for celebrities who show skin.
"It's really the kitchen-sink approach," he told ABCNews.com. "Nobody knows if it will have an impact. You know if you don't try, it certainly won't. So, you throw the kitchen sink at it."
Dezenhall said a lot of things celebrities do is driven by their personalities and egos and not by their publicists and managers.
"Don't assume that they're getting advice or that they are listening to it," said Dezenhall, who added that he works with fewer celebrities than he used to. "A lot of these folks are doing what they want to do, because it's often just an extension of their natures."
When it comes to disclosing personal information or dropping titillating news, it's only natural that it occurs when a celebrity has a new project.
For example, Paula Abdul, making the rounds of ABC's morning shows a month before the season premiere of "American Idol," dropped the bomb that the "Idol" producers had allowed a woman who had been stalking her for 17 years to try out because it would make good television.
"Most celebrities don't do interviews unless they have something to promote," said Bragman, whose new book is "Where Is My Fifteen Minutes?" "If you have a disclosure to make, you want to hold it until you have something to promote. The only caveat is you don't want the disclosure to be bigger news than what you're promoting."
Celebrity Disclosures: Books and Interviews
Bragman said that when Owen Wilson's movie "The Darjeeling Limited" came out just after his suicide attempt, Wilson only gave one interview -- to the director -- and it appeared on MySpace.com.
"And that was the limit of that particular incident," he said. "If asked about it, he can say he talked about it, even though he didn't really go into it."
Dezenhall said a lot of disclosures, like Jane Pauley announcing she is bipolar in 2004, come out as part of a book the celebrity is promoting. Pauley was promoting both her memoir, "Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue," and a new talk show.
"It comes down to either a tactical hook or a damage control inoculation device," Dezenhall said. "You attract people to the book and you deprive your adversaries of being able to reveal something bad on their terms."
One has to wonder if Joe the Plumber's turnabout on Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who repeatedly cited Joe during his presidential campaign, is something of a tactical hook to get readers to buy his book.
And then there are all those rumors and the innuendo that the tabloids thrive on, such as who is pregnant and who's dating whom. Dezenhall said not to be surprised if many of those items come from the celebrities' publicists.
"There is a certain desperation to inject these morsels of non-information information into the bloodstream," he said.
But celebrities do not have to bare all in order to stay in the public eye, Dezenhall said. He cited Harrison Ford, the late Paul Newman, Jodie Foster and Meryl Streep as examples. He said Natalie Portman has been able to separate herself from other young actresses by not appearing naked on magazine covers.
"She shows it is possible to be in that world without rooting around in the great hamper of Hollywood," he said.
Celebrities, like Streep and Newman, have been perceived differently by the marketplace. Streep's focus when it comes to publicity, as Newman's was, is her work and not her personal life.
"They're not giving the E! Channel a tour of their master bathroom," Dezenhall said.
"Someone like Jennifer Aniston, her strategy is to dive into every camera conceivable to stay relevant," he said. "There is a sunset date on being young and hot."