11:00am PT by Michael O'Connell
'Bachelor' Host Chris Harrison on Amy Schumer, 'UnREAL' Flaps, Diversity and His Lack of Screen Time
Chris Harrison, longtime shepherd of reality romance on The Bachelor, is not easily surprised.
After 15 years hosting the franchise and its multiple spinoffs, even the current cycle's polygamous undertones — Bachelor Ben Higgins told two different women that he's in love with them ahead of the ABC series' March 14 season finale — don't appear to have shaken the emcee. Harrison, 44, recently spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the unique scenario and sounded off on the state of the "Bachelor Nation." That includes insights on his noticeable lack of screen time this season, a recent Twitter exchange with Amy Schumer, the growing push for diversity casting on the show and the woes of filming in tropical locales: "There are some moments where you want to stop and hose these people down."
In 20 seasons, has anything prepared you for a Bachelor announcing he's in love with two women? It's kind of ridiculous.
I don't know about ridiculous. It's kind of awesome. That's always the goal of the show, but maybe we did our job a little too well this time. I think it speaks volumes of Ben. He's a great guy. He did a good job of compartmentalizing the relationships and treating everybody separately. Something always happens every season that we're not expecting.
Spending so much time with these people, did you see this coming?
This situation was a little bit of a surprise. I don't think it's a surprise that he felt that way, but I do think it's a surprise that he told them and said it out loud. There's always a bit of a spark at the beginning with somebody, and inevitably one person will stand out as the frontrunner and they end up being the person picked. With Ben, Olivia was probably the frontrunner on the first night.
How comfortable do you feel handing out relationship advice?
The show has been on for 15 years, and I've seen quite a lot. And with age comes experience. I've gone through a lot myself on the show, being a parent and living my own life. I think there's a lot I can help out with in that regard.
Does it make your job easier or more difficult when you have someone who's really transparent, like Kaitlyn Bristowe?
You would think it's a lot easier when you have a Kaitlyn, someone who will bare their soul and say and do whatever is on their mind. But that's not necessarily the case. It's just a different kind of show. I always say that the show is different every season, and that's one of the things I love about it. Whoever the Bachelor or Bachelorette is, you have a different history, different baggage and their story. Our job is how to shape that and present it. It's not necessarily better or worse. It's just a different take.
Amy Schumer, who's been on the show, called you out for your treatment of Jubilee on "The Women Tell All." Have you made up?
We haven't set a date yet for our date, but I do think that Amy Schumer and I have a little thing. There was, if not a little, maybe a lot of sexual tension built up. And I don't think it was just me reading into it. I think she was reaching out to me. I'm excited about where this could go. This could be a match made in heaven. This could be my Bachelor moment.
Well, I'm excited for you. It's been noted that you aren't as prominently featured this season. Did you speak with producers about how you'd be reflected in the edit?
We do discuss it. Early on, the first three or four episodes, we made a concerted effort for me to be more of a part of this season. But one of our executive producers, Martin Hilton, came back in the middle of the game and took over postproduction and editing. He's never been a big host-driven executive producer. When he's worked on the show in the past, he's edited me out, and that's his take this year. It's his prerogative. And it's how it goes. If he thinks it's best that way, and it is, then great. I just want the show to be successful. If it's more me or less me, I really don't care.
Is there anything you were surprised didn't make it to air this season?
When you have a week and a half's worth of footage, and need to cram that into 80 minutes of television, that's an impossible task. You'd drive yourself nuts. And that's why I can say I have no animosity about any cuts, because I would never want that job. I can't imagine deciding what makes it and what doesn't. They do a brilliant job of making those decisions. All of the gold is never going to make it in.
There were a few headlines last year about your calling Lifetime's Bachelor satire UnREAL "terrible." Is that how you really feel about the show?
I took issue with one scene, and it got blown out of proportion. I actually haven't seen it. I don't watch much TV. I was flipping around, I saw one scene. Someone ran out and said "hold the roll" or some film term. I thought it looked inaccurate. It was very film. I really cannot even form an educated opinion, but people say they like it and is very much based on what we do.
What's your take on the growing push for their to be some diversity in The Bachelor and The Bachelorette's casting?
I absolutely understand it and appreciate it. It's great to have that conversation going. People, no matter who they are, want to be represented and see themselves represented on TV. It's a good debate, and it continues to change and evolve. So I think it's a great thing.
Why do you think it's become so hard to launch new reality series?
You have the pendulum swings in every business. When reality started, there was this immediate novelty of it all — there were so many unexplored avenues and a burst of energy. Eventually, things that burn that bright start to dim and the pendulum swings the other way. And it has. There are those mainstays, those godfathers of the genre. The Bachelor franchise seems more relevant that it's ever been. It's also been the most copied. And I think the reason we work is there's never been a catch to the show. There's no joke. There's no million-dollar prize. It's just simple.
When you're shooting in tropical locations, why does everybody but you look sweaty and wrecked by the humidity?
Ben and the girls are on all day for 12 hours. They don't have much time to stop and freshen up. There are some moments, where you want to stop and hose these people down and towel them off. One of the most memorable times was Ali [Fedotowsky] and Roberto's [Martinez] proposal. It was on this mountaintop in Bora Bora. He was about to propose, it was 100 degrees, we're walking up this mountain and he could just not stop sweating. I think I'm just a little more well-versed in being camera-ready. I carry a towel in my pocket. And I had my pores surgically sealed years ago.