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Adventures in Sunderland Reality TV Show Now Yanked

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by copythat

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In The News

The reality TV show based on sailor teen Abby Sunderland, and planned documentary including brother Zac, have been yanked--Laurence Sunderland had signed a contract for reality TV show "Adventures in Sunderland" about his family of dubbed "daredevil" kids.
Laurence Sunderland has admitted he's financially broke, with seven children and another on the way--and that a reality "show might be about family, it might be about Abigail's [sailing] trip. It's something that was shopped around [with television producers]," Sunderland says. 16-year-old Abby Sunderland either took off, or was sent off, on a dangerous global sailing voyage that occurred during one of the most dangerous and stormiest times of year in the Indian and South Pacific Oceans.
The question has now been raised as to whether Abby Sunderland's boating voyage, "adventure" and dramatic rescue could all be so that Sunderland's dad could score a reality TV show. There are five younger Sunderland siblings, all home-schooled, and a new Sunderland baby slated to arrive this July 1.
Abby Sunderland encountered serious danger in a remote part of the Indian Ocean during her sail and following stormy weather, a broken mast on her boat, and lost satellite communications--where the teen Sunderland was alone adrift.
Following frantic international rescue efforts, Abby Sunderland was finally located alive by an Australian plane--picked up by a French sailing vessel, "Ile de la Reunion".
The nation and media now debate whether Abby Sunderland's boat journey was initiated on her own, with goals of pursuing a personal dream to break the world record for youngest non-stop global sailing trip--or whether Sunderland's journey was based on a dangerous exploit from her father while trying to garner a reality TV show deal.
The Abby Sunderland drama has raised question as to whether the family has been involved in what is likened to a "Balloon Boy" incident--but at a much higher cost.
The national public--fearful Abby Sunderland had been lost at sea, and fearing the worst--is now angered by the idea that its emotion has been 'used' in bargaining for a reality TV show deal. Abby Sunderland, rescued by the French boat and ferried to an island in the Indian Ocean, is now having her parents highly criticized over the incident--and the huge financial cost of the Sunderland emergency rescue.
The nation has simultaneously found out about the Sunderland family's involvement in a TV reality show--sparking anger and ire over the selfishness that could have lost the girl her life, and which has financially cost a bundle.
Abby Sunderland's mother sparked more outrage with a quote that says was misinterpreted by the Australian media, where she was quoted as saying, "The full cost of chartering an airbus would be so high, you'd think they [Australian rescue authorities] would have to work with the U.S. government for that," Marianne Sunderland had said. "We're not wealthy people." It's reported that Laurence Sunderland has stated the family is financially broke.
The Abby Sunderland boat rescue was initiated through Australia, when the 16-year-old Abby activated two emergency locating beacons after her 40-foot sailboat rolled into high seas, losing the boat's mast and satellite communications equipment. Australia sent a spotter plane and additionally used two aircraft to monitor the remote rescue of Sunderland, where she was stranded approximtely 2,000 miles east of Madagascar and about equidistant from Australia.
The estimated cost of the Abby Sunderland sailboat rescue has been placed at about $300,000. Marianne Sunderland says the Australian reporter took her comments out of context-incorrectly or falsely implying that she was hoping to pass the buck for financial cost to Australia.
Marianne Sunderland communicated that she did not appreciate the media story's implication that the Sunderlands, who she says are a middle-class family from Thousand Oaks, California, are financially broke.
Abby Sunderland's sailboat trip was partially sponsored--but the second financially costly trip for the parents. A year ago, Abby's older brother Zac completed a solo-circumnavigation of the planet at age 17 and was supposedly planned as part of either the reality TV show or documentary that was scheduled for production.
The brother and sister pair, Zac and Abby Sunderland, were slated to have been part of a TV reality show series--and the nation is viewing the most recent revealing of scheduled TV show as a possible exploitation of the Sunderland children for financial gain.
The studios say the plug was pulled on both reality TV projects before the Abby Sunderland rescue sailboat incident--for reasons that also are a source of dispute. "The networks didn't want to touch it [the reality TV show project] because of the very thing that happened," said Susan Hartman, owner of 23 South Productions, which owns the footage shot beginning last fall into part of Abby's dangerous sailing journey.
"They [the reality TV producers] were afraid she [Abby Sunderland] was going to die." Laurence Sunderland, Abby's father, announced in a Los Angeles Times story. His version opposes the production company's--claiming that the Sunderland family itself is the party that wanted to cut ties over the reality television show. "They [the producers] were assuming Abigail was going to die out there [at sea]," he said. "They were relying on her [Abby] dying, and so we [the Sunderland family] cut the ties."
Abby Sunderland, only 16, was rescued at sea while attempting to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone. Sunderland's at-sea rescue occurred only weeks following the event of another 16-year-old girl, Australia's Jessica Watson, completing a sailing solo-circumnavigation. Sunderland spent 20 hours alone at sea and out of contact with civilization and before a spotter plane from Australia was able to locate her sailboat, making radio contact with the sailor.
During that time leading up to the rescue, there was speculation that Sunderland may have drowned or killed, knocked off the boat or trapped underneath an upside-down boat. Sunderland's planned disembark from the French fishing boat that rescued her, disembarking to the French-controlled Reunion Island, means she won't return to the United States for about a week or longer.
At issue is Sunderland's young age, wisdom of her parents in allowing her to depart on the boat journey in the first place, huge and costly rescue efforts and--at or near the top of the list--the reality TV business in Hollywood. Battling the criticism of the Sunderland family is are those who say the Sunderlands don't deserve the bulk of blame--at least not for the reality TV portion--because the idea for the reality television show wasn't derived from them in that Magnetic Entertainment came to the Sunderlands with the idea for the potential television show, not vice-versa.
Magnetic Entertainment still lists the "Adventures in Sunderland" reality TV show and also a documentary on the Sunderland family, among the company's active projects. It describes the reality show as "a family-oriented Adventure show" that follows "the [Sunderland] family in their day-to-day lives as shipbuilder Laurence Sunderland and mother/teacher Marianne try to balance work and family."
Magnetic Entertainment says the company canceled both TV projects, supposedly because film crews found interaction with Laurence Sunderland difficult. The company also claims that it believed that neither the sailing vessel and Abby were prepared for the task of tackling the turbulent oceans--especially so late in the season, and after the favorable weather conditions had finished.
"We didn't feel the boat or Abby were properly prepared." Abby Sunderland's sailing trip around the world was scheduled to start last fall, but numerous delays were caused by boat issues. Sunderland didn't sail from Marina del Rey, California until end of January and was soon after forced into Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, because her 40-foot sailboat, "Wild Eyes" had experienced more issues.
An additional, unplanned stop that was based on equipment problems with the boat, caused Sunderland to stop in Cape Town, South Africa. Sunderland's parents have acknowledged that timing of Abby's adventure was not ideal but her mother says Abby Sunderland had the backing of Commanders' Weather, having routed several renowned sailors and racing competitors across the the Southern Ocean--serving as the router for Abby's voyage.
Abby Sunderland's boat, the cruising sled named "Wild Eyes" and specifically built for Southern Ocean travel, was slammed by a severe storm that the teen endured for several days before the boat finally rolled. The American Sailing Association was critical of the timing of a trip that placed Abby deep into the Indian Ocean during Southern Hemisphere winters, that "the likelihood of having to deal with these storms [in the Southern oceans] become greater at this time of year," Nobles said. 

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