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Abby Sunderland's family cuts ties with TV reality show producer

June 14, 2010 |  1:54 pm

Abby The father of Abby Sunderland, the 16-year-old girl whose solo sailing effort ended when her boat was damaged, cut ties with a company that planned to do a reality TV show about the family because he disagreed about the direction the producers were taking, he said Monday.

“There is no show at this time, nor will there be,” Laurence Sunderland said, addressing reporters outside the family's Thousand Oaks home.

Long before Abby Sunderland set sail on her around-the-world attempt in January, Sunderland was approached by Magnetic Entertainment about the possibility of a reality show, he said. His wife, Marianne, was against it, he said, but they eventually agreed a show focusing on "inspiring kids doing inspirational things” was a story that needed to be told.

Sunderland's son, Zac, became the youngest person to sail around the world at age 17.

Magnetic did some initial filming but could not sell the show, said Sunderland, a shipbuilder. He also had a falling out with the partners over the angle they wanted to take, he said.

“They were assuming Abigail was going to die out there,” he said. “They were relying on her dying, and so we cut the ties.”

He said that so far he has spent $250,000 financing Zac's and Abby’s trips, money from a nest egg he had set aside to buy a farm in Maine.

“What Abigail and Zac have done is a great thing,” he said.

Blogging from her rescue ship, Abby wrote recently that she is doing well and is writing about what happened to her for a possible book.

"At first I decided that I wasn't going to write a book. But then I started to think about all the good times Wild Eyes and I have had together," she wrote. "All that's left of the voyage of Wild Eyes are my memories, eventually they will get fuzzy and I won't remember all the details.

"I don't want that to happen," she continued. "Wild Eyes and my trip have been the best thing I have ever done or been through and I don't ever want to forget all the great times we have had together, or the bad ones for that matter."

As for her journey, she added: "I'm still out on the ocean headed to a little island called Kerguelen and then will be on another boat for ten days up to an island near Madagascar. From there I will eventually make it home."

She's expected to reach Kerguelen Islands, a desolate archipelago populated mostly by scientific researchers, as early as Monday. Then, a larger vessel will take her to the French island of Reunion, off the eastern coast of Madagascar, in eight to 10 days.

-- Catherine Saillant in Thousand Oaks

Photo: Abby Sunderland. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times.