It feels like it’s been a while, so I’m excited to say “Welcome to a new season of The Bachelorette.” As you will see in so many ways over the course of this season, this Bachelorette is unlike any you have ever seen before. This goes for both the season and the woman. First of all, we kicked things off in Charlotte, North Carolina, which of course is Emily’s hometown. At first I wasn’t sure I loved the idea of leaving the traditional ‘Bachelor Pad’ in Los Angeles. It’s become such a recognizable starting point and a big part of our show the last several years. But the moment we rolled into Charlotte I quickly realized it was the best way to start Emily’s season.

Emily is so unlike any other Bachelorette we’ve ever had so we really needed to think outside the box to make the show look and feel as special as she is. For me, the best part about shooting in Charlotte was the way we were received by the hometown crowd. The people of Charlotte welcomed us with open arms, and I can’t thank them enough for the hospitality. Not only did we shoot in Emily’s hometown, but for the first time ever, she actually got to live at home. This not only allowed her to keep being the fantastic mother she is to her daughter Ricki, but also allowed her to relax and enjoy a new kind of home-court advantage.

When Emily arrived to talk to me that first night, you could sense she was loose, relaxed and ready to talk. I really enjoyed our chat. What really struck me was how much she opened up to me and how vulnerable she was. She is ready to let go of some of the control in her life. She’s been through so much and has had to do so much to carry the load for her and her daughter. She’s looking for a partner to help ease some of that burden and add a new sense of excitement and adventure in her life.

We were hoping to keep the location we were shooting at slightly under wraps, but that went out the window right away as the local news station showed exactly where it was with their helicopter live on the newscast. Luckily it was a pretty secure location in a gated community, but that didn’t stop some fifty to sixty fans from trying to sneak on the property to catch a glimpse of the action.

As Emily and I walked down the hall to welcome the guys, the weight of the situation and the pressure suddenly hit her. She tensed up, had trouble breathing and was incredibly nervous. But that was nothing compared to how nervous the guys were to meet her. Let’s talk about some of the high and not-so-high points during the arrivals. Jef channeled his inner Michael J. Fox from Back to the Future (if you have no idea who or what that is: look it up, kids) with the skateboard behind the limo. I was a little worried as the limo pulled down the driveway a little faster than any of us expected. Tony took a huge chance with the Prince Charming bit, but he pulled it off. I have to give Randy props for watching our show and going with the grandma gag. Emily thought that was pretty funny, as did the rest of us. I have some advice for John and all other men out there: the moment you meet a beautiful woman and you’re desperately trying to make a good first impression don’t tell her your nickname, especially if it’s “Wolf”!

Travis showed up with an ostrich egg. That’s really all I have to say — Travis showed up with an ostrich egg. Good news for him is he’s a good guy with a great sense of humor, and the other guys really like him as well, because that could’ve gotten ugly… well uglier. The big controversy during the arrivals was Kalon flying in on the chopper. To be honest it was kind of a small, janky little helicopter as far as Bachelor standards are concerned. Kalon not only rolled in on the chopper he also rolled in with the big attitude that immediately turned the guys off and put a big target on his back. This will continue as we move forward.

Speaking of moving forward, as you saw at the end of the show, this season is going to be incredible. Emily has a really good group of guys here and they will do anything to fight for her and rise to this occasion. From the Muppets next week to Dolly Parton later this season, from the beaches of Bermuda to the Tower of London and beyond, you are all in for an incredible ride, and so is Emily. You’ll see there’s so much more to Emily than you knew before, and I mean that as an extreme compliment. She has no problem handling her business when it’s called for, and if these guys think for one minute that Emily is going to be a sweet little Southern push over… well, they can take a moment and say their goodbyes. I’ll see you next week from the balcony, when I fill one of the greatest roles of my life!

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The Bachelorette

One single woman searches for her future husband amid a sea of studs in this romantic reality series. Will you accept this rose?

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