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-year-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 agreed to the lucrative deal, which is 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.
Cleo Smith’s parents have reportedly signed a $2million deal with Channel Nine to break their silence about the alleged abduction (pictured is Cleo with her mum)
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.
Some staff at the network are reportedly horrified by the deal.
‘What are the possible consequences of asking this young girl to talk about what happened to her, when we don’t know what she went through?’ one journalist asked.
‘And what are the optics of it as far as the viewing public is concerned?’
The deal is the highest amount paid for a television interview in Australia since Channel Nine paid Beaconsfield mine disaster survivors Brant Webb and Todd Russell $1 million each in 2006 to recall their two weeks trapped in the underground mine.
The report follows revelations to Daily Mail Australia that Cleo’s parents were considering changing her name to stop unwanted attention.
Cleo Smith (pictured recovering after her 18 day ordeal) may feature in the interviews
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.
Ms Smith has even raised with friends the possibility of changing Cleo’s first and last names in an effort to protect her daughter’s identity as she grows into adulthood.
‘They’re worried about people making the connection later on down the line,’ the source said.
Mother Ellie Smith and stepfather Jake Gliddon have been seeking advice from other parents whose children who have unwittingly thrust into the spotlight after suffering similar ordeals
Daily Mail Australia understands Western Australian police have encouraged Ms Smith to talk about Cleo’s future with the parents of other children who have experienced traumatic events.
‘A big call’ to change a child’s identity says leading psychologist
Forensic psychologist Tim Watson-Munro could not speak specifically about changing Cleo Smith’s name but said any such a move would need to be considered carefully.
‘I think it’s a big call to change a child’s identity,’ he said. ‘There’d have to be fairly compelling reasons for that.
‘I understand they don’t want publicity, they don’t want to draw attention to themselves, they want to blend into the community.
‘But that has to be considered in the context of the age of the child, the child’s sense of identity at that age.
‘If it’s little Flossy and that’s what she’s grown up with all her life and all of a sudden she’s told she’s not that person anymore but someone else I think that has the potential to be quite damaging to the child.
‘I guess it’s a case-by-case scenario depending on the publicity and how robust the child is but it’s not something you’d race into in my view.’
‘As with all matters such as these, WA Police Force provides ongoing support to families,’ a spokeswoman said.
Forensic psychologist Tim Watson-Munro told Daily Mail Australia he believed it could be beneficial for Cleo’s parents to talk to other families.
‘I think it’s a great thing as long as people are willing to speak with them,’ he said. ‘It’s like any sort of therapy.
‘Those who’ve been through trauma are often best-placed to speak to others about their experiences and they seem to identify more with it that way.
‘They don’t have people coming in just from a clinical, academic perspective. They’re coming from real-life experiences and it seems to work for people.
‘I think it’s a great thing that they’re doing it, frankly, if it’s assisting people.’
Cleo made global headlines late last year when Western Australian police found her in a house at Carnarvon, 900km north of Perth, 18 days after she disappeared from a camping ground.
She disappeared from a tent on October 16 while on a weekend family holiday at the Blowholes campsite, about 80km north of Carnarvon.
She had woken about 1.30am and asked for water but when her parents got up at 6am the little girl was gone.
An land, air and sea search failed to find any trace of Cleo. Five days after she went missing police announced they believed Cleo had been abducted and offered a $1million reward.
Cleo quickly became perhaps the most recognisable four-year-old in Australia and within two weeks her smiling face would become famous around the world.
On November 3 police found Cleo alive and well inside a locked house at Carnarvon just minutes from her family home.
Her alleged abductor Terence Darrell Kelly, 36, who was not known to Cleo’s family, is due to make his third court appearance on Monday.
Cleo made global headlines late last year when Western Australian police found her in a house at Carnarvon, 900km north of Perth, 18 days after she disappeared from a camping ground. She is pictured back in the arms of her mother Ellie