Dad’s ‘Reality Show’ Hope: Teen Sailor Responds

Monday the NEW YORK POST reported (via Rick Chandler’s Out of Bounds) that the father of teen sailor Abby Sunderland signed a contract to do a reality show, “about his family of daredevil kids weeks after she set off on her doomed and dangerous solo sail around the globe.

Abby Sunderland Reality Show Video Trailer

(Abby Sunderland Reality Show Trailer Video Below)

Laurence Sunderland, who “opened the family’s home to film crews four months ago,” said,  “The show might be about family, it might be about Abigail’s trip. It’s something that was shopped around.

Today, after a storm of public criticism over Sunderland’s reality show revelation, Abby’s father announced that the family had pulled the plug on the project. Though he’s now claiming that the television deal was undone by creative differences with the show’s production company.

The TV deal went sour just weeks into Abby’s journey, the father said, when the producers were unable to sell his concept. Sunderland said he learned that one of Magnetic’s partners was planning to take a different angle: that Laurence and his wife, Marianne, were sending their daughter on an all but certain death trip.

“They were assuming Abigail was going to die out there,” he said in a brief interview Monday.

Interestingly, today Sunderland didn’t bring up the part about dumping the show to the Post on Monday.

The family did make an interesting point though about the media coverage of the matter - via the family’s “Team Abby” blog:

Laurence and I were approached by Magnetic Entertainment last year before Abby departed to shop a reality TV show based on our family. Abby’s trip was already sponsored. Their idea was to do an inspiring show about Zac and Abby’s adventures, what our family was like and what made them as strong and independent as they are. The show was shopped and not sold.

All rights were returned to us. There is no reality TV show or documentary in the works and we will not be persuing one. We find it ironic that the media, who are spreading gossip and sensationalizing Abby’s story for profit, have the nerve to criticize us for supposedly doing the same thing – very ironic.

What’s apparently lost on the Sunderlands is that - by their own admittance - the only way Abby could fund her journey was through sponsorship. Sponsorship that couldn’t happen without the guarantee of publicity generated by media coverage.


Along those lines, Laurence Sunderland’s revelation to the Post that a reality show might be in the works is certainly newsworthy.

What the Sunderlands are really saying is they would prefer that the media only cover what they want the media to cover.