Chris Harrison Explains How 'Bachelor in Paradise' Will Change, Post-Controversy

The ABC reality franchise host clears up a few misconceptions about 'Paradise,' which bows Aug. 14, to THR.
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Chris Harrison

Bachelor viewers are curiously waiting to see what Bachelor in Paradise will do differently when the ABC reality series returns to TV this summer.

After a filming delay, on-set investigation and conclusion that no misconduct took place surrounding a sexual encounter between two contestants who had been drinking — Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson — Paradise announced that it would resume production on its upcoming fourth season, but that changes to the show’s "policies and procedures" would be implemented.

"I think publicly everyone is going to want us to come out and say, 'We've changed everything!' and that it will be earth-shattering," franchise host Chris Harrison told The Hollywood Reporter of Paradise, which now premieres Aug. 14 (the season was initially set to bow Aug. 8). THR spoke to Harrison at the recent taping of The Bachelorette: Men Tell All reunion (airing July 31), which will welcome Jackson back to the franchise for the first time since the controversy. "We've really learned from our mistakes, but there really weren't any major mistakes made."

Though producers Warner Bros. Television confirmed that footage of the actual encounter in question between Olympios and Jackson will not be shown, Harrison alluded that viewers will get clarity about how things unfolded: "When this plays out and you see it all happening, you'll understand what I'm saying."

As THR reported, some of the changes that WBTV had planned to implement were added safety training for the staff on the Bachelor spinoff's Sayulita, Mexico, resort set. The investigation, which halted production for about two weeks, was sparked by a producer, then followed by a second producer, who filed an internal complaint. It is unclear if either producer returned. 

Producers and the behind-the-scenes staff, including Harrison, were the first to touch down on-set after WBTV gave the greenlight. One of their first tasks was discussing how the show should handle the controversy and the footage leading up to the shutdown, before flying the original cast — minus Olympios and Jackson — back to Mexico.  

When the cast returned and began filming again, there were only 11 days to capture the rest of the season. Amanda Stanton, one of the original cast members, told ET that the fast-paced schedule included rose ceremonies every other night, that the show implemented a two-drink-per-hour maximum, and that the cast had to ask permission if they wanted to spend the night alone with another cast member.

But Harrison says most of the changes won't translate to TV.

"Yes, we've made some changes but if you talk to the cast, they've always been the most important thing to us — taking care of them and their safety," he said of the behind-the-scenes tweaks. "And as far as alcohol goes, that's never been a big thing for us. That's a big misconception of the show — that we push it, and that we need it and we want it. But that really doesn't help us. Someone being sloppy drunk and being out of it does not give us good television."

He added, "On the contrary, we want people to be of their right mind and give us a better story to show. So while we're going to talk about rules and talk about certain things and have a dialogue, you're not going to notice major changes."

Evan Bass, whose wedding to Paradise season three contestant Carly Waddell was filmed during the shutdown period and will be airing on the upcoming season, echoed Harrison's alcohol comments in a column for THR. "It's common knowledge that there is alcohol on the show," he wrote. "But what I want people to know is that my friends and I were never once prodded or forced to drink alcohol. Hell, the furthest production goes is asking what type of beverage you'd like. And saying 'water' is a perfectly fine response."

Though Olympios and Jackson declined invitations to return to the season, both contestants will be attending the reunion show, and are likely to appear in sit-downs with Harrison to address the controversy. There are also several days of footage of the pair at the show's disposal. 

Bachelor in Paradise's two-night premiere kicks off Monday, Aug. 14, at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Sydney Odman contributed to this story.

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