Chris Harrison and The Bachelor franchise are officially breaking up. After months of speculation, the longtime host’s 19-year tenure with the franchise is over, following his response to the racial controversy that emerged amid the ending of the last season of The Bachelor—its first-ever with a Black bachelor—commentary which caused almost as much drama as the controversy itself.
To recap The Root’s previous coverage by Staff Entertainment Writer Tonja Stidhum:
Rachel Lindsay, the first Black Bachelorette of the long-running ABC reality competition franchise of the same name deactivated her Instagram following racist online harassment following an interview with series host and producer Chris Harrison. The now-viral interview, which took place in mid-February, regarded racist allegations involving a contestant of the current season of The Bachelor (which stars the first-ever Black Bachelor, Matt James). The contestant is Rachael Kirkconnell, who came under fire after previous photos surfaced of her attending an antebellum-themed college party in 2018, getting caught “liking” TikTok posts in support of the Confederate flag and sharing QAnon conspiracy theories.
Harrison refused to condemn these allegations of racism during his recent interview with Lindsay. Harrison has since taken a hiatus and Kirkconnell has spoken out, issuing an apology on social media.
At the time, Harrison specifically apologized for “wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism” (h/t USA Today). Harrison made a subsequent apology for “excusing historical racism” in a February 13 post to social media, citing his use of the term “woke police” in reference to those who’d expressed concern over finalist Kirkconnell’s past judgment.
“The historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions,” Harrison wrote, in part. “To that end, I have consulted with Warner Bros. and ABC and will be stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special.”
It should be noted that Kirkconnell still received the final rose from Bachelor Matt James, though without a proposal at the time. Though the two had parted ways as of the aforementioned special hosted by interim replacement Emmanuel Acho, James and Kirkconnell have reportedly since reconciled, according to Page Six.
However, despite initially expressing a desire and expectation of a return to the franchise, Harrison’s reconciliation with “The Bachelorverse” was not destined to be...but Harrison likely is going to be alright. According to an exclusive from Deadline, negotiations with ABC were reportedly finalized on Tuesday, the day after the premiere of the The Bachelorette’s 17th season.
From Deadline’s Dominic Patten:
Having fronted the Mike Fleiss-created The Bachelor and all its lucrative ABC spinoffs since 2002, Harrison will receive a rose of his own in the form of mid-range eight-figure payoff and promise to keep his mouth shut, I hear. The usual platitudes are expected to be exchanged for public consumption when the agreement is made public later today, but there is certainly no romance in the air behind the scenes.
Penciling in the Bachelorette premiere as their event horizon, Harrison’s reps have been in increasingly intense negotiations over the past few days with WBTV and, to a lesser extent, Disney-owned ABC.
After that deadline of sorts came and passed last night with the money issue resolved, it was the legal stray ends that remained.
The confidential settlement with franchise producers and distributor Warner Horizon was finally reached after one more flurry of back and forth between the parties and Bachelor broadcaster ABC on Monday night. A motivational undercurrent, so to speak, throughout was Harrison lawyer Bryan Freedman pledging to unleash the Shiva of lawsuits exposing a swath of The Bachelor’s alleged dirty laundry unless his Gersh-repped client emerged feeling the financial love.
Apparently, that’s exactly what happened, though none of the aforementioned parties have publicly commented on the settlement. While there are interim hosts planned, there is also no word on who might be permanently replacing Harrison, who’d previously hosted every iteration of the franchise and had proven to have a very loyal fanbase.