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A reality check at Frightworld Jon Gosselin meets with fans in Amherst

Amid all the blood-curdling screaming piped into Frightworld, a complex of haunted houses in a defunct Amherst department store, Jon Gosselin was the picture of serenity.

The slight, dark-haired co-star of "Jon & Kate Plus 8," the television reality show about Gosselin, his wife and their children -- sextuplets and a pair of twins -- sat on a raised platform beneath a hastily rigged spotlight in the center of the 50,000-square-foot space and calmly signed autographs Saturday night.

For an awkward few minutes after he sat down and rested his elbows on the table beside a stack of color "Meet Jon Gosselin" posters and 13 soft-tip pens supplied by the promoter, there was no interaction with the 30 or so mostly teenagers who stood gawking behind a chain-link rope line.

Then a few hesitatingly inched forward with scraps of paper, followed by others who offered up their cell phone covers for him to sign.

The conversation was generally one way, the admirers telling Gosselin how they admire the program, now in its fifth season, and Gosselin usually offering a quick smile and not much else.

Then the interaction between star and star-struck changed. With two uniformed Amherst police officers functioning as gatekeepers, female fans started coming up on the stage and posing for pictures with Gosselin, who smiled on cue as the girls' boyfriends snapped away.

Contrary to an earlier report, Gosselin, whose pending divorce from Kate and recent extramarital activity have kept celebrity-gossip mongers working overtime, did not charge for his signature.

He agreed to come to Buffalo because Frightworld "is a family-friendly event," said Matt Kirschner of Talent Resources in New York City, the agency representing Gosselin.

And for the undisclosed appearance fee paid by Frightworld, of course.

His client would "never, ever, ever" charge for an autograph, Kirschner insisted. "Under no circumstances. He's a family man."

Frightworld marketing director Dennis Donaldson said the Halloween attraction, regularly books musicians and entertainers during its annual fall run.

e-mail: tbuckham@buffnews.com

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