TODAY | June 15, 2010
MATT LAUER, co-host: Could a California teenager's attempt to sail solo around the world have been nothing more than a publicity stunt? As Abby Sunderland makes her way home after being rescued from the Indian Ocean , reports have now surfaced that her family was filming a reality television show . NBC 's Kristen Welker has the details.
Mr. LAURENCE SUNDERLAND: It's absolutely preposterous.
KRISTEN WELKER reporting: Laurence Sunderland is now on the defensive after it was revealed he was in collaboration with a reality TV show producer for a series about his family.
Mr. SUNDERLAND: There would have been a lot more better business ventures that I'd have engaged in if I wanted to make money than sending my two children around the world.
WELKER: The Sunderland family first gained national attention when daughter Abby 's boat sent out distress signals last Thursday. The 16-year-old was rescued from the Indian Ocean after a harrowing 20-hour search. But reality TV show producer Ted Caloroso claims Sunderland mismanaged Abby 's fateful attempt to sail around the world.
Mr. TED CALOROSO: Yeah, I think he's just trying to save face right now.
WELKER: Sunderland says he had hoped the reality show would be inspirational, and that instead Caloroso turned it into something sensational.
Mr. SUNDERLAND: He wanted to make it about me being an irresponsible parent and Abigail dying.
WELKER: But Caloroso says that's just not true.
Mr. CALOROSO: The fact that Laurence went -- has gone and talked to news agencies, and saying that we hoped for her death and it would be great for the reality show , is completely ridiculous. I think Abby was pushed too soon to leave on her voyage.
Mr. SUNDERLAND: How can he pass judgment on something that he has no expertise in whatsoever?
WELKER: Despite all of the debate and misadventure surrounding Abby Sunderland 's voyage, the teen sailor, who's expected back home in the next few weeks, hasn't given up on her dream.
Ms. ABBY SUNDERLAND: I'm definitely going to sail around the world again.
WELKER: As for the reality show , it was dropped after filming began and after Abby set sail because no network would buy it. The Sunderlands haven't ruled out the idea of another show. But for now they say they only have one
concern: getting their daughter back home safely. For TODAY, Kristen Welker, Thousand Oaks, California.