Teen Sailor's Family Denies Reality Show Plans

"There is no reality TV show, there's no documentary that's going to be made, there's no book deal"

Monday, Jun 14, 2010  |  Updated 9:30 PM EDT
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Abby Sunderland's family said they do not plan to cash in on a reality TV show.

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The family of a teenage California girl rescued on the high seas while trying to sail solo around the globe said they abandoned plans for a reality show before the girl set sail and have no interest in revisiting them now.

"There is no show at this time, nor will there be," Abby Sunderland's father Laurence said outside the family's home on Monday.

"There is no reality TV show, there's no documentary that's going to be made, there's no book deal," Sunderland's mother Marianne Sunderland added in an interview with The Associated Press.

Hours earlier, The New York Post reported Laurence Sunderland said he signed a contract for a reality show weeks after his 16-year-old daughter set sail from Southern California last January.

Sunderland went missing Thursday when a strong storm knocked out her satellite communication and broke her mast. A French fishing boat rescued the teen sailor on Saturday.

Marianne Sunderland said the Post’s report and others were based on misinformation and misunderstandings.
Before her daughter set sail, she said, the family was approached by Magnetic Entertainment, a small Santa Monica-based company that expressed interest in developing a reality show.

At the time, Abby Sunderland's older brother Zac had just become the youngest person to sail solo around the world, a record that has since been broken.

"They just wanted to do a show showing what our life is like and how we ended up with kids who are ambitious," said Marianne Sunderland, who lives in suburban Thousand Oaks with her husband and their seven children. She is expecting an eighth child in a few days.

Magnetic Entertainment shopped the show but never found a buyer, she said, and the family eventually reacquired the rights to its story. She added that family members have no interest in trying to shop them again.

The company, which did some initial filming, still lists plans for a reality show and a documentary on its website. But the state Franchise Tax Board said Monday that Magnetic's business license was suspended for failure to pay back taxes. Company officials did not respond to phone calls or e-mails.

"At the time it seemed like a good thing," Marianne Sunderland said of a reality show. "Everyone we were working with was super friendly and seemed to have plans for a good show."

Since then, she noted, the family has been relentlessly criticized for letting their teenage son and daughter attempt to sail around the world alone. They have also been ridiculed for the size of their family and sometimes accused of using their children to become wealthy and famous.

Such criticism, as well as the attempts of others to enrich themselves, has soured the family on media attention, Marianne Sunderland said.

She said her daughter has indicated she may write a book just to chronicle her adventures, but said the family isn't pursuing a book deal.
 

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