Cleo Smith’s parents get astonishing cash windfall two months after alleged abduction made headlines around the world
The parents of Cleo Smith have reportedly signed a $2million deal with Channel Nine just weeks after the little girl’s alleged abduction.
The four-old from Western Australia made international headlines in November when she was found alive and well, 18 days after she was allegedly abducted from her family’s tent at a remote campsite.
Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith and stepfather Jake Gliddon have reportedly agreed to the lucrative deal for what’s believed to be an Australian television record.
Reportedly organised by high profile talent agent Max Markson, the deal is expected to include a tell-all interview with 60 Minutes and follow-up stories in Nine-owned publications.
There is also speculation of a six-part special for its streaming service, Stan and that young Cleo herself may feature in the interviews, The Australian reported.
Nine beat Channel Seven’s Spotlight program to secure the deal, despite Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes’ personal interest’ in the story.
‘Nine was scared at the end of the year after they lost their No 1 position – this seems a desperate attempt to regain the mantle … and it won’t work,’ an inside source told the publication.
The deal is the highest amount paid for an television interview in Australia since Channel Nine paid Beaconsfield mine disaster survivors Brant Webb and Todd Russell $1 million each.
‘This is insane. This is dinosaur chequebook journalism. It smacks of an inexperienced CEO who has got a rush of blood in his first bidding war,’ a source told the Australian.
The reports follows revelations Cleo’s parents were considering changing her name to stop unwanted attention.
The couple have been seeking advice from other parents whose children have been unwittingly thrust into the spotlight after suffering comparable ordeals.
They are asking how young victims of high-profile crimes recovered psychologically, including whether they underwent professional counselling and if their parents considered that process worthwhile.
They are concerned about how their daughter will cope with years of such intense attention, having already been the focus of worldwide publicity in early childhood.
‘They’re worried about the repercussions of the media and so forth down the track,’ a source told Daily Mail Australia.
Her alleged abductor, who was not known to Cleo’s family, is due to make his third court appearance on Monday.