Sunderland family had a deal for reality TV show

Abby Sunderland’s father has admitted his family had agreed a deal for a reality television series about the teenager’s solo circumnavigation.

Laurence Sunderland said that the family signed a deal with a Los Angeles-based production company but the agreement later fell through.

He said the production company, Magnetic Entertainment, was very enthusiastic about turning the 16-year-old American’s voyage into an series, that would also feature a solo circumnavigation made last year by Abby’s 17-year-old brother Zac.

He said: ‘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.’

Mr Sunderland claimed plans for the show collapsed when Magnetic Entertainment could not find a distributor and all rights returned to the family.

He said: ‘There is no reality TV show or documentary in the works and we are not pursuing one.

‘It is sad and ironic that some of the media – who are sensationalising and twisting Abby’s story for profit – accuse us of doing the same thing.

‘We can assure you that our priority is the
protection of our children, something all parents will understand.’

A spokeswoman for Magnetic Entertainment, Susan Hartman, gave an illuminating reason for the show stalling.

She said: ‘The networks didn’t want to touch it because of the very thing that happened.

‘They were afraid she was going to die.’

Ms Hartman also claimed that Mr Sunderland has rushed his daughter’s departure date to fulfill sponsorship obligations.

Abby, who set off on her solo voyage around the world in January, was rescued by a French fishing vessel, Ile de la Reunion, over the weekend with the help of the Australian authorities after her mast snapped in the Indian Ocean and is currently en route to the Kerguelen Islands.

Opinion differs on whether Abby’s parents were right to allow her on the trip, but the consensus of expert opinion indicates that, after she was forced to stop in Cape Town for repairs, it was foolhardy to set off again in the Southern hemipshere winter.

Mr Sunderland also said that the the family has appointed a public relations consultant to manage the publicity that the dismasting had created to enable him and his wife ‘to return to our primary role – parents to our children and in particular at this moment, a supportive mom and dad to Abby’.