Monday, October 23, 2006

Travel Channel Responds To Allege Accusations Of Cover-up Over Safety On Reality Series MOMS ON THE ROAD AFRICA

Another Mom From The Series Speaks Out And Is Saying That The Travel Channel Is Lying

Travel Channel Spokesman "But The Facts Are No-One Died... Please Lets Keep A Sense Of Proportion"

In Another Safety Mishap - Moms Exposed To Patients That Had Tuberculous And Were Not Told Before Hand To Take Any Precautionary Measures

By Scott Thompson - Editor

In exclusive story posted Saturday on, The Travel Channel (Discovery Communications) responds to allege accusations of a cover-up over safety on the reality TV series MOMS ON THE ROAD AFRICA.

In this story, Jackie Nova, an actress from California stated to that the producers of the show have edited Thursday night′s episode " cover their butts..." over the accusations that two moms were put in possible danger while filming the series for Travel Channel.

Ms. Nova also stated in her exclusive Blog to that there were safety concerns and fears of being sexually assaulted during filming of one episode. This included that two Moms from the series (including herself) were left alone with a child and no security anywhere where strange men were coming in and out of the area in the darkness with comments that sounded to be of a lewd nature

In response to the article, The Travel Channel (Discovery Communications) issued the following written statement to Sunday morning:

From Dean Slota the Series Producer:

"I would just like to confirm that Jackie and Amy were pulled out of their host house due to - as Jackie states in her blog "the conditions" NOT as she implies safety issues. At no time during the day were any of the women in danger.

Nothing was witnessed by any member of the crew, the tour guides, or myself. If they had at any time during the day expressed safety concerns we would have responded immediately.

The reality of the situation is that the two women requested to be moved and we moved them. All the other women had a good experience in the village staying with host families and it was always our intention that Jackie and Amy do the same. The fans of the show are witnessing all elements of the Mom′s journey and a vivid look at the trip′s many experiences."

In another written statement provided to, Patrick Younge, General Manager/ Executive Vice President of The Travel Channel issued the following:

"The General Manager/Executive Vice President of the Travel Channel has already offered, via the message boards, to meet privately with any of the participants if they are unhappy with how they′ve been portrayed."

This is the posting that Mr. Younge posted on the forums in responses to accusations:

"First I apologise for locking the board/thread earlier. I did it for a simple reason. My network believes in fairness. We broadcast the original material feeling it was a fair, if unflattering, reflection of events. When that protrayal was challenged for veracity its an allegation we take very seriously, as its suggests an abuse of power on our part. Whilst investigating, the allegations continued to flow and it reached a point when so many reputations were being maligned (filmmakers have reputations as well), that I called for a pause so I could get the best possible overview on the facts. I have now done that, Amy′s post is being reinstated and the boards/threads are being unlocked.

Obviously I wasn′t in the field during the shoot, but have now spoken to the executive producer, the series producer who was in the field on the shoot, all three producers who were there either filming these sequences or having discussions with the women and the two editors who worked on the show. We have reviewed some of the rushes which didn′t make the show. They all work for the BBC, which is generally recognised as having some of the highest editorial and ethical standards in the world.

I am confident having completed this exercise that the events depicted in the show were accurate. Why?

The accommodations for all the Moms were set up by the representative of the DCI project on the ground. Amy and Jackie tell this representative, on tape, that they wanted to stay at a hotel about ten minutes after seeing the room. They were encouraged not to do this by the rep and Julianna (the local guide featured in the programme) as this would cause further hurt to Petronella.

The crew took tents and sleeping bags off the truck with a view to Jackie and Amy sleeping under canvas, but when the series producer went to check on them they said they were still unhappy with the situation. At this point he arranged for them to go to a hotel. I want to stress that at no time during these events at Petronella′s did either of the women site ′safety′ as a reason for not staying.

If Jackie and Amy wish to discuss this further I will happily make arrangements to meet with them personally, along with the executive producer and take them through all the unbroadcast material I am aware of and hear any further points they wish to make.

Having done all of the above I do want to make a couple of important points. I don′t believe Jackie and Amy are bad people, nor do ′ believe we have characterised them as such. In my mind all of the Moms were, and are, extremely brave women who left their families behind for seven weeks to experience an African itinerary they had no part in shaping and to do it in the full glare of the cameras.

The whole point of this show was to pull together women who hadn′t travelled and allow them to experience the beauty, riches, poverty and complexity that is Africa. We wanted them to experience it all, 5 Star hotels cheek-by-jowl with townships, safaris, indigenous tribes, extreme sports, politics and race, disease, poverty. We wanted them to do work projects with African people and stay in their homes. This was an example of this request. Ok, this particular event didn′t work out and maybe with hindsight they would have handled it differently. But the facts are no-one died and Petronella′s doing fine. Please lets keep a sense of proportion.

The one point I haven′t been able to clarify is the ′missing days′ in the journals, which were sent by the Moms to the BBC and then onto Travel Channel. Although the copy was edited at no point in the chain does anyone believe they edited out whole days, so I will investigate this further - for all of the women - and then respond to the Moms directly.

Yesterday afternoon, talked exclusively with the other Mom who was with Jackie Nova at the time of the incident in question. Amy O′Sullivan, a realtor from South Haven, MI, disputes the claim that the Travel Channel is making that they were never in danger. She says that in fact they are lying and there were other cases when they were put in danger. In the 20+ minute interview, Ms. O′Sullivan provided her side of the story and here are excerpts from that interview.

Frustrating to me was that the camera was not on for the majority of that day and evening so the response from the Travel Channel saying that it was an "accurate depicted" couldn′t necessarily be true because they wasn′t proof and they won′t take our word for it. Jackie and I are being thrown under the bus.

We didn′t act perfect to the situation but the premise of the show was to put us in a situation before any advance warning of what we were to be encountered with.

So for them to say everything was to be checked out prior to going there (to the house) - it makes you wonder why Jackie and I were assign to a house that had no beds, no pillows, no blankets. They contradict themselves by saying we made sure it was safe and we have been there. If they have then, they would have told us to bring a sleeping bag.

It just seemed like a setup. What they don′t show you is that we were the first (to go to a house) and we didn′t know where the other moms were - we were all scattered about. And if something happen, we had no way in contacting the producers because we had no phones.

Next door to the home was bar... men were lurking outside the bar... but the cameras were not there.

The producer (Dean Slota) at that point had not been there. The director, Elaine, was there for about an hour. What they didn′t show was we walked back to house, spent alot of time with the little girl and visited with her Great, Great Grandma. They have alot of footage that they did not show. They also did not show the room we were suppose to stay at first and the bar.

The first time the producer saw where we were staying (later that evening) was when he came to get us. And there were no cameras.

And when the producer came in with no camera - "he said we had to go". We told him we were fine and we could stay there - it was only for a night. He said "this was not safe - this was not what we thought and you are coming with me... leave your things!" And that was what we did and now they are saying the completely opposite.

We had no protection, we had no way of contacting anybody. If something were to happen - we didn′t know where we were and we found out later that the producers were at a hotel (over a hour away).

Some of the other moms were given cell phones and cell phone numbers - we were given none of that.

For them to say it was completely safe and they had checked it out ahead of time - is a lie! And that is not the only time we did not feel safe on the trip.

We were put into another situation with patients that had tuberculous. We were never taught how tuberculous is transmitted, what we should do, what we shouldn′t do, how close we should get. Again, the whole premise of the show was to put us in situations without advance warnings or any sort of education on what was going to be seen because they felt it would make better TV.

So some of the time we did feel unsafe and that is one time Jackie and I felt unsafe (back at the house). And the other mothers can defend themselves and say ok that is exactly how it happen - but the truth is most of the time there were no cameras there - just Jackie and myself.

We did not see the other moms until the next day. So for any other moms to say what it was like - they are just trying to bash us.

And then the Vice President (Patrick Younge Of Travel Channel) gets on the forums and defends (things) and said the (day)light was the same and there is no way they could have edited (things) differently. This is so further from the truth - it was dark when we left to head to the hotel.

It kind′of bothers me that the Travel Channel says that they know for a fact that this is how it happen - because they don′t. There is no way anyone knows other than myself, Jackie and the producer. And he (producer) is not going to tell the truth because it is not going to make him look very good because he put some of us in danger in a couple of situations.

Someone posted my personal information on the forums (after the show) and I have been getting alot of hate email. I post something in my defense (on the forums) and it is pulled within an half hour. And then someone post my personal information and it was up there for hours.

And the fact that our diaries are both gone from this day (on the official website) ....?

It is pretty sad on how the show has gone because when we were all casted with the guarantee that it wasn′t going to be a reality TV show. All of us could tell you that - all eight of us (Moms).

What also upsets me is that they said they would be happy to meet with us individually if we had concerns. No one (From The Travel Channel) has every contacted me. I don′t even know how to get ahold of Patrick Younge. They only posted that on the forums - it is just damage control.

The only good thing that has come out of all of this is that seeing the need of the people there (in Africa) to help. Why it took an episode where it looks like we are rude Americans for that to happen - I am not sure. There are people now who show concern for the families and they are now sending things. Both Jackie and I, since the show, have sent clothes, toys, money and school supplies. So if it takes something like that for all of us to help - then that is a good thing and will be worth it in the end.

MOMS ON THE ROAD AFRICA is shown on the Travel Channel Thursdays evening at 10:00 pm EST.