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Bonnie Says: Abby Sunderland's Dad Shopping A Reality Show — Is She Balloon Girl?

Mon, June 14, 2010 9:25am EDT by 10 Comments
Abby Sunderland,

AP (3)

Are you as NOT surprised as I am by the latest news this morning that the 16 year-old sailor’s dad was shopping a reality show?

UPDATE: Abby Sunderland’s dad, Laurence Sunderland, said he cut all ties with the production company producing Abby’s reality show because they wanted to go in a different direction than his family wanted. “There is no show at this time, nor will there be,” he told reporters June 14, explaining he originally thought the show could highlight children doing great things.

Abby Sunderland‘s father, Laurence Sunderland, has signed a contract to do a reality show called Adventures in Sunderland, about his family of “daredevil” kids, he revealed to  the New York Post.

He also admitted that he’s broke, has 7 kids, another on the way and that “the show might be about family, it might be about Abigail’s trip. It’s something that was shopped around,” he said.

Now, are you shocked? Angry? Was 16-year-old Abby sent off on a dangerous global sailing voyage at the most dangerous stormiest time of the year in the Indian and South Pacific Oceans — as I’ve previously reported — just so her dad could score a TV show?

Abby ran into serious danger in a remote part of the Indian Ocean after days of stormy weather. Her mast broke, she lost satellite communications, and she was alone adrift.

Fortunately after a frantic international rescue effort, Abby was located by an Australian plane on Friday and finally picked up by a French sailing vessel, Ile de la Reunion, late Sat.

So the question now is — did she truly decide on her own to pursue her passionate dream of breaking the world record for youngest non-stop global sailing trip or was she influenced to undertake a highly dangerous exploit as a stunt to get her dad a TV show deal?

Is she really just an older version of Ballon Boy, 6-year-old, Falcon Heene?

Is 16 actually mature enough to NOT be influenced by a fame-craving parent? In fact her father told the NY Post, “we thought it might be a good idea if it was encouraging kids to get out and do things.”

Uh, like risk their lives, Laurence Sunderland. While Sunderland, who is a sailing instructor, insists the reality show was “the last thing on his mind,” when Abby set sail from Southern California in January — the family lives just outside of LA — a company called Magnetic Entertainment of City, Calif is already promoting Adventures in Sunderland, and Abby’s Journey, a documentary on it’s website.

You have to wonder also if Abby 16, and her older brother Zac, 18, who luckily successfully completed a similar voyage last year — feel a responsibility to help support all their younger siblings?

For all we know, Abby has been video taping herself for the show, for the entire voyage.

Meanwhile, she’s blogging from her rescue ship. “Everyone on board has been really friendly. They have come a long way out of their way to help me and I’m so thankful…”

She calls her voyage, “the best thing I have ever done or been through.” But you have to wonder now — is Abby writing this or doing any of this sincerely? Or is it all still a play for Adventures in Sunderland?

How sad that her fathers actions call into question the purity of her own motives?

It will all be hard to find the truth for some time. Abby will be on her current rescue ship for about a week, before being transferred to another boat on the remote island of Kerguelen. From there, that boat will take her for 10 days to an island near Madagascar. “From there I will eventually make it home,” she blogs.

Think about it — even this. She’s a 16-year-old girl alone in almost the farthest, most remote part of the world and has to find a way home safely, by herself.

Is that what you’d want for your sister or daughter?

–Bonnie Fuller