8:01pm PT by Jackie Strause
ABC Names 'Bachelorette' Standout as Next 'Bachelor' Star
Peter Weber, aka "Pilot Pete" from Hannah Brown's The Bachelorette, is ABC's Bachelor for the 2020 season.
"I have all the faith in the world this can work for me — and I know it's going to," said Weber during his announcement on Tuesday's Bachelor in Paradise finale. "My entire life I have truly looked forward to finding my girl and that person that I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with."
As The Hollywood Reporter had reported, Weber was the network's top choice for the season 24 gig since his memorable exit from The Bachelorette earlier this year. Weber, a 28-year-old Delta pilot from California, placed third on Brown's high-rated season.
Both he and runner-up Tyler Cameron (who took himself out of the running when he began dating supermodel Gigi Hadid) emerged as fan favorites from Brown's season, along with Mike Johnson — who was also considered and who would have made history as the franchise's first black Bachelor if he had been chosen. Bachelor producers, THR has reported, were waiting to see how the summer and Bachelor in Paradise season (which featured Johnson) played out before naming their pick, but Weber was the consistent frontrunner.
"You always have to keep in mind the importance," franchise host Chris Harrison had told THR about the potential to make franchise history with Johnson (Rachel Lindsay became the franchise's first black Bachelorette in 2017). "But at the same time, you really have to lean toward: What is going to be the best television show? What will keep everybody entertained, employed and keep this train moving in the right direction?"
Weber, who is bilingual and half Cuban, broke out as a standout contestant due to his charm and memorable hometown visit with his family. But it was an intimate reveal from Brown about their night in a windmill-themed Fantasy Suite that raised his profile. The confession from the sex-positive star went viral during her season, and when Brown and Weber reunited on the live finale in late July, she shocked the audience when she revealed that she and Weber had sex four times during their overnight date. Despite being heartbroken at the time of his exit, he received closure from Brown during their live reunion.
"She was 100 percent unapologetically herself and I love that. And that's something that I definitely want to carry forward with my journey now," said Weber on Tuesday's show, while also admitting that dating 30 women at once is daunting. "That's what it takes to find your person in this process."
Weber — whose ABC bio for The Bachelorette said he lives with his parents — grew up minutes away from the famed Bachelor Mansion in Agoura Hills, Calif. During the Paradise finale — which was taped at the end of August for a live studio audience and attended by THR — Weber told Harrison that he tried to sneak onto the grounds when he was in high school. "Now, opening night I'm going to be there with limos coming in and meeting however many women — that's just crazy to me," he said.
And though the TV edit did not include hints as to how Weber's season will be marketed, Harrison assured Weber during the taping that the windmill references were not going anywhere. "Expectations are going to be pretty high for you," Harrison quipped, to which Weber responded, "Luckily, I’m a pilot and sky’s the limit, baby — windmills aren’t enough."
Weber, who is looking for raw honesty as a main character trait, and his season seem poised to follow in the footsteps of Brown's celebrated sex-positive run as lead. Brown emerged as a trailblazer for the franchise in her honesty about sex and her faith, which led the series to explore territory that is usually avoided. The previous Bachelor season starred Colton Underwood, whose virginity was a topic of discussion through his entire run.
Ahead of Weber's announcement, ABC released the names and bios of 33 contestants for the 2020 season. This is the second cycle in a row ABC has made the contestants public early, in hopes that Bachelor Nation will take to social media and help weed out any problematic picks. After several seasons of casting controversies, Brown's season was the first cycle to experiment with the early release, though the move did not prevent her winner, Jed Wyatt — or Weber — from being hit with reports from ex-girlfriends during their run.
Both Wyatt and Weber were accused of having prior relationships before the show. Though Weber was able to clear up his side (“The show had absolutely nothing to do with me ending that relationship," Weber told People), the revelations ended up costing Wyatt his relationship with Brown; she called off their engagement before their live finale and is currently single (and competing on ABC's Dancing With the Stars).
And though the official cast could still change come January, the 33 women reveal a slightly more diverse season than previous cycles. When speaking to THR before Weber's announcement, Johnson said it was "flattering" to be considered. "The franchise is taking strides and leaps into becoming fully diverse. I think they’re going about it the right way and doing the right things," he said.
Still, the missed opportunity to give the franchise its first black male lead is sure to garner criticism. When speaking to THR after Weber's announcement, Paradise contestant Derek Peth summed up: "I’m a little bit sad we didn’t get a black Bachelor because I really like Mike and I think he’s an awesome person and I was hopeful that it would actually be him. But I think there’s a lot of inclusivity left. I also love the show — it’s fun and great to be a part of — so they’re not doing anything wrong, but I would love to see something different. I hope it’s a great, interesting, diverse cast that is a good representation of what America is."
The 24th season of The Bachelor goes into production in the fall and will bow Jan. 6.
Kirsten Chuba contributed to this story.