I understand that much of what will be talked about this week centers on Eric Hill and how we decided to handle his tragic death. I will definitely get to that below, and I will fully explain how and why everything happened, but before that I do want to give a brief mention to each gentleman’s hometown as I think it was a very interesting group of hometown dates.
I know Nick has been in the hot seat the last couple of weeks, and maybe deservedly so, but I really think his hometown showed a very different side of him. There is a lot of love in that family and it really showed when Nick and Andi sat down to visit with them. I’ll be anxious to know if seeing Nick in this light changes anyone’s opinion of him. Nick’s little sister, Bella, is adorable. I loved how she peppered Andi with questions and absolutely forgot everything. I was completely impressed that Andi remembered everybody’s name. I quizzed her later and she still had it all down.
Andi knew the big question entering Chris’ hometown date was could she see herself living in Iowa? The problem is Andi went into this date really just trying to figure that out, but what she wasn’t counting on was being completely blown away by his family. Andi told me she was beyond impressed by Chris’ family. She was also really taken by seeing Chris in his element, and I think more than any of the other guys it really put him in a new light and she loved it.
Josh’s hometown visit in Tampa was probably the most interesting. When you look at all the relationships left, this is still the most troubling for Andi. There’s so many questions that are still unanswered when it comes to Josh. Andi has always had a problem with the fact that Josh is an athlete. If this was an issue coming into the hometown date, it can only be a bigger question once Andi learned just how invested Josh’s whole family is in his brother’s future in the NFL. You can clearly see this is an issue for Andi and I’m not sure any of her worries were settled on this visit. But I also know that Andi could truly feel the love in his house and was moved by how devoted Josh is to his family… especially his little brother.
Marcus’ hometown date in Dallas was a little different due to his family dynamic, but it turned out to be a great one. As you know Marcus went home at the end of this episode. He was the first to proclaim his love for Andi, and he’s easily been the most open and honest with his feelings. The interesting thing is that this isn’t how he usually is, Andi has really brought this out in him and I’m sure no matter what he’ll be grateful that she brought down those walls. The more Marcus opened up and shared his feelings, the more Andi questioned her feelings. Andi just realized she couldn’t match Marcus’ passion and commitment and so she had to say goodbye to him. It was a brutal, gut-wrenching breakup but one that Andi knew had to happen.
This season we have dealt with something that we have thankfully never had to deal with before, the death of one of our current cast members while we were still in production. Eric Hill lost his life in a tragic accident that occurred while we were wrapping up this week of hometown dates. We dealt with this as the season began, but I knew the difficult part of all this was that for all of us, on the show, it happened this week during hometowns.
The big question for us was how could or should we handle this? First of all, here are the facts on the timing of how everything went down from a show perspective. I was in New York City this week guest hosting on The View while Andi and the guys were on hometown dates. I got news of Eric’s accident the night it happened. The next morning as I was walking to work I got an update that Eric was in critical condition. I mentioned this at the top of the show and wished him and his family the best and sent our prayers. I kept my phone on me during this show and halfway through I got a text that Eric had passed away. I talked to the producers on The View and let them know, but also told them I didn’t think it was right for me to mention or talk about it. They agreed. As soon as the show was over, I headed straight to the airport and caught the next flight home. I knew we’d have to do something so I had to get home as soon as possible. I spent the entire flight home emailing back and forth with producers as we debated on just how we would deal with this on the show and how we would tell Andi and the guys.
There were those who didn’t think we should shoot it at all and not include this news. I vehemently disagreed. I thought we should not only shoot it, but felt we should include it on this show for you to see as well. I knew this was going to be a brutally sad moment for all of us, but that’s why I felt so strongly we should show it. There were a few reasons I felt strongly about this. First of all, I knew this was going to greatly affect all of us, especially Andi. How could we not show or talk about an event that absolutely changed and affected everything and everyone on our show? For 13 years we’ve built this franchise by showing you everything that happens, whether it’s good, bad, dramatic, or sad. I just didn’t see how all of a sudden because something so tragic affected all of us that we just wouldn’t show it; it didn’t make sense. What happened was horribly sad and tragic, but to me acting like it just didn’t happen and going on like Eric never existed seemed horribly dishonest and disrespectful. I don’t believe we get to choose in life what we get to deal with and what we don’t. I don’t believe you get to just act like things didn’t happen because it’s uncomfortable or sad. You have to take the good with the bad in life.
While I was flying back from New York, Andi was flying back from Marcus’ hometown date in Dallas. Many of our producers didn’t know the news and the cast wasn’t told. Because all of us were just getting off planes we really didn’t have any place to do this, so I just told everybody to come to my house. Obviously this is beyond unorthodox, but I knew this was going to be a rough night and it just seemed like we should all be together and the only place we could make this happen right away was to do so at my house. The next day was the rose ceremony, and we definitely didn’t want everyone to wait another day to learn the news and I didn’t want to tell Andi the news and then have her have to attempt to hold a rose ceremony. So I pulled up to my house and the producers and the crew were waiting in my drive.
Shortly after that the guys showed up and Andi followed up thereafter. You saw a little bit of that night on the show. There was a lot more said and done, but I think you got a good idea of how it all went and that was the point. I told Andi and the guys about Eric, and it was easily the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do on this show. I was immediately glad we were all together and that we were at my home. You also saw how producers and crew all came in and we all shared a hug and a moment together. This went on late into the night as we all sat around and shared our grief. At the end of the night we were all sitting around sharing funny stories about Eric from our all-too-short time with him. When it was time to leave, we all shared a hug, raised a glass, and said goodnight. I believed in the decision to handle it like we did before, and I believed in it even more afterward. I said at the beginning of the season I understand there might be some who disagree on how we handled this, but I stand behind every decision we’ve made 100 percent. We made really tough decisions and tried to do so with all due respect to Eric and his family. We stayed in constant contact with his family and always tried to do right by them. As you saw, Andi was greatly affected by this, and it just made no sense to me to have ignored it because it was uncomfortable and sad. I know we all look at death and tragic events in life differently, so I appreciate the fact that there will be many opinions about this episode. I will read them all and take them in as best I can. I’m old and experienced enough in this life to know that I don’t have it all figured out and am far from perfect. I attempt to do my best and do what’s right, but that doesn’t mean I’m always right. In this case I’m not assuming I’m right. I just think we all did our best to do what was right, and I truly believe we handled an incredibly tragic situation the best we could.
I thank you for taking the time to read this blog, and I will leave you with information on how you can Live Like Eric. If you’d like to support Eric’s foundation please visit livelikeeric.com.
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