It's official: Chris Harrison's Bachelor journey is over
UPDATE: Warner Horizon, the studio that produces the Bachelor franchise, and ABC Entertainment have issued a statement confirming Chris Harrison's departure: "Chris Harrison is stepping aside as host of The Bachelor franchise. We are thankful for his many contributions over the past 20 years and wish him all the best on his new journey."
EARLIER: Well, it's official rose lovers. After 19 years, Chris Harrison's "journey" with the Bachelor franchise is over. EW has confirmed that the host will not return to The Bachelor or any of its spin-offs for future seasons. Deadline first reported the news.
Shall we recap the whole sordid mess one last time? Yes, let's. The trouble started back in February, when photos surfaced of Rachael Kirkconnell — then a contestant on season 25 of The Bachelor — attending a "plantation-themed" sorority party in 2018.
Soon after, Harrison was interviewed on Extra by former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, who pressed the host about the photos. While Harrison said he wasn't defending Kirkconnell's actions, he also condemned the "judge, jury, executioner" attitude of critics attacking her online: "This poor girl Rachael, who has just been thrown to the lions, I don't know how you are equipped when you have never done this before, to be woke enough, to be eloquent enough, to be ready to handle this. And my guess is, this woman needs a little time." (Kirkconnell apologized for her "racist and offensive actions.")
To no one's surprise, Harrison's comments didn't go over well. Though the host issued two apologies on Instagram and a third on ABC's Good Morning America, his "temporary" hiatus from the Bachelor franchise continued to drag on. He didn't appear on The Bachelor's After the Final Rose special — Emmanuel Acho, host of Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, filled in — and on March 13, ABC and Warner Horizon announced that he would also not be returning for season 17 of The Bachelorette.
The news of Harrison's exit from the long-running franchise comes one day after The Bachelorette's premiere. Former Bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe are serving as hosts this season, but there is no word yet on a permanent replacement for Harrison. Bachelor in Paradise, which returns for season 7 on August 17, will be hosted by a rotating roster of celebrities, including David Spade.
The Bachelor franchise has long been plagued by criticism over its lack of diversity. Harrison and producers addressed that criticism directly a year ago, soon after Matt James was cast as the first Black star of The Bachelor.
"We acknowledge our responsibility for the lack of representation of people of color on our franchise and pledge to make significant changes to address this issue moving forward," the producers said in a statement Harrison posted on social media. "We are taking positive steps to expand diversity in our cast, in our staff, and most importantly, in the relationships that we show on television. We can and will do better to reflect the world around us and show all of its beautiful love stories."
Representatives for Harrison didn't immediately respond to EW's request for comment.