Bachelor Pad is over, but host Chris Harrison won’t have a moment to rest. After 16 seasons of The Bachelor over the past 10 years, Harrison is looking to season 17. Harrison admits there are a few frontrunners from Emily Maynard’s season of The Bachelorette (which ended July 22), but he also throws out a few higher-wattage names, has some harsh words for Olympic Bachelor wannabe Ryan Lochte, and — oh yes — even addresses the possibility of Robert Pattinson as the next Bachelor. Also, what does Harrison consider the “kiss of death” for a reality show? Read on to find out!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’ve been very clear that you won’t be the next Bachelor, but can you give us any hints as to who might be? Michael Stagliano is back on the market…
CHRIS HARRISON: I can assure you Michael Stagliano will not be the Bachelor. He was never up for it. But you do have the usual suspects that we’ve been talking about all along. Obviously Arie and Sean [from Emily Maynard’s season of The Bachelorette] are both frontrunners. They have been since we started this discussion, and they probably still are in the mix. [Ed. note: Arie Luyendyk, Jr., tweeted Aug. 31 that he would not be the next Bachelor.] At this point, it goes pretty far up the food chain, up to Paul Lee, the president of ABC. We go in and make presentations. A lot goes into it that people don’t know as far as making that final decision and who makes the best television. At the end of that day, that what we’re doing — we’re creating a show — and we want someone very sincere. We’ve been doing this for over a decade, and we know what works, and we know what’s going to make good television. It’s not such an easy [choice], like, “Oh, he’s cute, that’d be good.” We do take into consideration what the fans want and who they like, but at the same time we also have to make a television show and know what works. It’s not always the same exact thing.
The tradition is to choose someone the fans already know from a previous season, but — particularly in light of the ongoing discrimination lawsuit against the show — how wide has the net been cast?
I always tell people (and I know they don’t believe me) that our casting department is always casting. They literally cast 12 months a year. There are even people that we think, “They’re not good this season because they don’t fit with Emily” or they don’t fit with who the Bachelor is. We’ll hold them and call them up [for another season]. Our casting department’s record speaks for them. They’re phenomenal at what they do. So, yeah, there are always people who are in the mix that you don’t know and our fans don’t know. Again, with Arie and Sean, or a guy like Ryan Lochte, we always discuss people like that. Are they serious contenders? Does it get to the point where we’re negotiating? No. That whole Ryan Lochte thing about wanting all that money — that stuff doesn’t happen, it doesn’t get that far. But these people are definitely in the mix.
Speaking of Ryan Lochte, is there talk of doing a more celebrity-focused Bachelor?
Again, it would absolutely, 100 percent have to make sense. You can’t do a celebrity Bachelor or Bachelorette without it really making sense. It’s got to be our show. It can’t just be, like, “Hey, someone’s going to date…” — I don’t know, give me someone popular…
Yeah, RPattz. You can’t just do that to be doing it. He has to be this sincere guy who really wants to find love and [isn’t in it just to] extend his career and get popular and, like, “Hey, I’m really looking to have a TV career after the Olympics. How about doing The Bachelor or Dancing With the Stars?” We don’t want someone who’s open to doing five different shows. That’s not our style, that’s now who we use. We use people who really want to be on The Bachelor and really want to make it work. Whether it does or not is a different story, but you need that sincerity.
If you had someone who was unlucky in love like (I hate to point this one out because I know it’ll get picked up…), but if we get Jennifer Aniston, who [has been] notoriously unlucky in love — I know she’s engaged now — or that type of person, if it made sense, you could do it. But just to do it to say, “Hey, we have a celebrity, look at us!” It’s kind of like doing the all-star edition of a show. It’s kind of the kiss of death, kind of the beginning of the end. You can’t just do things to be a stunt.
So I take it you have any personal dream Bachelors or Bachelorettes?
Oh sure, I do, because I love hanging out with them. I would love for some of my favorite athletes to come in and do it, to hang out with George Clooney or whoever. But what I love more than that is my job. This show has had such a strong run for over a decade because we do what we do well. Top to bottom, our entire staff is a smooth, well-oiled machine all the way from art department to lighting to craft services to producers — all the way up. A lot of that gets overlooked because it looks so easy and seamless and effortless when you see Bachelor or Bachelorette. But if you see what goes into making this show, it’s stunning.