3:38pm PT by Jackie Strause
'Bachelor in Paradise' Controversy: All the Details (So Far)
The investigation into an incident on the set of ABC's Bachelor in Paradise has given rise to many questions, namely what happened and what it means for the current season and entire franchise moving forward. The Hollywood Reporter has verified the below details from reliable sources regarding the investigation since it was announced on Sunday. Now with the probe in motion for over week since the alleged incident first took place on June 4, bookmark THR's story to separate fact from fiction. This post will be updated as more information comes available.
What happened on Sunday, June 4, on the set of Bachelor in Paradise?
One week later on Sunday, June 11, Warner Bros. announced that it had suspended production on the upcoming fourth season of the Bachelor spinoff. "We have become aware of allegations of misconduct on the set of Bachelor in Paradise in Mexico," said the production company behind the ABC hit. "We have suspended production and we are conducting a thorough investigation of these allegations. Once the investigation is complete, we will take appropriate responsive action.”
The alleged incident occurred on June 4, the first day of filming at a resort in Sayulita, Mexico, and is said to have involved a sexual encounter between two castmembers who had been drinking, Corinne Olympios, 25, and DeMario Jackson, 30. A producer who suspected misconduct on the set followed protocol and reported it to his or her supervisor at Warner Bros. It is unclear if the producer witnessed the incident or saw footage of the encounter, which was captured on tape, before filing the complaint that set the investigation in motion. Despite circulating reports suggesting otherwise, Olympios appears "lucid" in the footage, say sources.
What happened to the cast?
Production continued for a second day with castmembers, including Olympios and Jackson, continuing to go about their show business. Some contestants continued the show journey, leaving the resort to go on one-on-one dates. Once the complaint was filed, Olympios and Jackson were the first contestants to be questioned and dismissed from the Sayulita resort, say sources. After questioning the remaining cast and crew one by one — 20 castmembers (only 16 had previously been announced by ABC) and 25 crewmembers — all of the castmembers were returned their phones (no social media devices are allowed while filming) and flew out of Puerto Vallarta on Sunday, with most arriving back home in the U.S. by Monday.
Have charges been filed?
No criminal charges have yet been filed and law enforcement is not involved. The investigation remains an internal one, conducted by Warners.
Who are Olympios and Jackson?
Bachelor in Paradise reunites former castoffs of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette in hopes they find love with other stars of the franchise. Olympios, 25, hails from Nick Viall's season of The Bachelor earlier this year and Jackson, 30, was recently eliminated on Rachel Lindsay's season of The Bachelorette, which is currently airing. Jackson was kicked off the show on the May 29 episode when it was revealed to Lindsay that he had an unfinished relationship back home. He returned on the June 5 episode asking for a second chance but was denied. Olympios placed fourth on Viall's season and was labeled as the season "villain" for her onscreen antics.
What have Olympios and Jackson said?
Jackson has been active on his Twitter feed since returning home, but didn't publicly address the situation until he was approached while out in Los Angeles on Tuesday: "I have nothing to say. You know, Corinne's an awesome girl and that's all I have to say."
Olympios hired a top Hollywood publicist and attorney, Stan Rosenfield and Marty Singer, respectively, and released a statement on Wednesday:
“I am a victim and have spent the last week trying to make sense of what happened the June 4. Although I have little memory of that night, something bad obviously took place, which I understand is why production on the show has now been suspended and a producer on the show has filed a complaint against the production. As a woman, this is my worst nightmare and it has now become my reality. As I pursue the details and facts surrounding that night and the immediate days after, I have retained a group of professionals to ensure that what happened on June 4 comes to light and I can continue my life, including hiring an attorney to obtain justice and seeking therapy to begin dealing with the physical and emotional trauma stemming from that evening.”
Shortly after Olympios released her statement, Jackson officially broke his silence. “It’s unfortunate that my character and family name has been assassinated this past week with false claims and malicious allegations,” he said in a statement to E! News. “I will be taking swift and appropriate legal action until my name is cleared and, per the advice of legal counsel, will be seeking all available remedies entitled to me under the laws.” He later said he lost his job, as an executive recruiter, due to the ongoing controversy.
Over the weekend, he retained L.A. attorney Walter Mosley, who said the tapes will show that Jackson's "interaction with Corinne was a consensual interaction.”
Has the show commented?
Franchise host Chris Harrison said all the "misinformation" and rumors swirling in the press were what prompted him to speak out on Tuesday. He urged patience while Warners conducts the investigation. "Let me start by saying the safety and care of the cast and crew of our show is of the utmost importance to us," he said in part. "[Warner Bros.] is moving quickly to gather all the facts, and once that's done a clear concise decision can be made about where we go from here." The creator of the franchise, Mike Fleiss, posted a short message on Twitter and teased more to come. "We love you #BachelorNation," he said.
What is the status of the current season?
ABC has yet to make an official decision on if the season will be canceled. The production schedule, however, makes it unlikely the show could be turned around in time for its slated Aug. 8 airdate. The show tapes in under a month (June 1-June 27) and with the investigation delaying filming for a week or two, the editing turnaround would be very difficult. When the cast was dismissed, they were told they "might" return, but now the collective expectation is that they won't, say sources. Representatives for ABC and Warners maintain the series has not been canceled despite rumors to the contrary.
How could the future of the series — and potentially the franchise — be impacted?
Sources say the future of the series as a whole is not yet in jeopardy, even if the season is scrapped. "The real question is if the advertisers will stay with the show and how much financial damage has been done," media valuation expert Larry Gerbrandt told THR. "The knee-jerk reaction is to pull out [of buying air time on the series] because that's the safest course of action — that's what killed Bill O'Reilly's show; it wasn't ratings, it was advertisers dropping out."
There's also the question of whether or not audiences will want to continue to watch The Bachelorette, which is currently airing its historic season with Lindsay as the first black lead, and delivers a new episode on Monday. The Bachelorette, while tamer than Paradise, also features boozy courtships and, at times, sex between contestants. Will viewers watch the reality show knowing that something inappropriate, and possibly illegal, may have occurred during production of its sister series? Both Olympios and Jackson also recently appeared on Bachelorette and are fresh in the crossover audience's mind.
What is the status of the Paradise wedding between Evan Bass and Carly Waddell?
Last year's cycle of Paradise produced three engagements, though only one remains set to walk down the aisle: Evan Bass and Carly Waddell. The wedding went on as scheduled on Saturday, when Bass and Waddell returned to the Paradise resort. Despite the cast exodus, several stars from the franchise joinied the guest list, including expecting Paradise couple Jade and Tanner Tolbert, and Harrison officiated. The wedding was slated to bow on the summer season of the show and ABC does not yet know how the wedding will be televised, says a source.
Bass defended the show in a column for THR ahead of his wedding, which can be read here.
What are other contestants in the franchise saying?
Many of the Bachelor in Paradise contestants who were sent home took to social media to express their heartbreak over the situation. Few, however, have been able to speak further or provide details. Jasmine Goode, a contestant from Viall's season, said of her friend's behavior: "f someone’s getting hurt and you’re my friend, I’m going to step in but what I saw, I didn’t see any different than what I normally deal with."
Former Bachelor Ben Higgins and two-time Bachelor in Paradise star Ashley Iaconetti offered their insight when they welcomed THR onto their iHeartRadio Almost Famous podcast on Tuesday. "Did somebody make a mistake?" Higgins asked regarding questions as to why producers didn't step in. "Did a producer make a mistake? Were things taken too far? I don't know, but if it did you have to understand that they were just trying to portray a storyline that was existing in front of them." Iaconetti said she is on a text chain with many of the current contestants and that most are "unclear as to really what necessarily was going on." (Neither were participants in the current season.)
Listen to the full episode below.