11:11am PT by Jackie Strause
'Bachelor in Paradise' Cast Sent Home Amid Probe as ABC Mulls Cancellation
The cast of the new season of ABC's Bachelor in Paradise has been sent back to the U.S. amid an internal investigation into "allegations of misconduct" on the set of the reality series, which now faces the possibility of the entire season being scrapped.
Early into filming the upcoming cycle, which is slated to begin airing Aug. 8, the cast of young singles was told they were going home and production was suspended. The Bachelor summer spinoff is filmed at a resort in Sayulita, Mexico, and many of the castmembers were routed to the U.S. through Puerto Vallarta airport over the weekend.
"We have become aware of allegations of misconduct on the set of Bachelor in Paradise in Mexico," Warner Bros., the production company behind the ABC hit, said Sunday in a statement. "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.”
According to sources, a producer who suspected misconduct on the set reported it to his or her supervisor at Warner Bros., which is what employees are told to do in such a situation. "The investigation is an internal one," says the source, denying claims circulating online that a lawsuit was filed against the show's producers.
Though a production source tells The Hollywood Reporter no official decision has yet been made on whether the season will be canceled, the chances of the show picking back up are looking slim. This is the first time production has been halted on a series under the ABC Bachelor franchise umbrella, aside from delays due to weather and location changes. When the cast was told to pack their bags, they were informed that they "might" return.
The incident, said to be a sexual encounter between two intoxicated castmembers (Bachelor blogger Reality Steve initially named the contestants but later deleted the tweets after media coverage indicated that a crime may have been committed), reportedly occurred during the first day of production, though a source says filming was not stopped immediately. But by Monday morning, many of the contestants had made their way back home. The crew is still on location.
The cast began to comment on the investigation starting Monday afternoon, after being given their phones back (no social media devices are allowed during filming). Robby Hayes first took to Twitter to say, "What happens in paradise, stays in paradise. #NoComment." Contestant Derek Peth appeared to be disturbed by the fan response to the unfolding situation, tweeting, "My heart has been breaking all day. I'm constantly blown away by how horrible most of you are."
Raven Gates, a runner-up on Nick Viall's recent season of The Bachelor, said she was "heartbroken," something her Bachelor co-star and fellow BIP contestants echoed. "Seriously...crushed," wrote Jasmine Goode. Danielle Lombard, who appeared on Bachelor, added, "Absolutely devastated."
Though it was unclear whether the contestants were referring to the ongoing situation or the fate of the season, one contestant indicated that they wouldn't be returning to film.
"Good people make bad things better," tweeted Taylor Nolan. "Incredibly thankful for friends, family, chosen family, and this very special bachelor fam." She closed her tweet with the hashtag #ripbip4. The controversy comes as ABC has been generating good buzz and ratings for its diverse season of The Bachelorette, airing now. The 13th cycle of the dating competition, with its first black lead in Rachel Lindsay, made a strong return with its May 22 premiere, averaging 5.7 million viewers.
Last season of Bachelor in Paradise featured Chad Johnson, a volatile contestant from JoJo Fletcher's season of The Bachelorette. During his time on Bachelorette, Johnson's clashing with his fellow contestants escalated to physical violence, and a security guard was brought into the house where the men stayed. When producers brought him back for Bachelor in Paradise, he lasted only one episode. After becoming intoxicated, Johnson verbally assaulted several of the female contestants until host Chris Harrison kicked him off the show. Production, however, was not interrupted during either season.
Bachelor in Paradise reunites former castoffs of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette in hopes they'll find love with other stars of the franchise. ABC had announced the first round of the cast last week; additional familiar faces join the season as it progresses to shake up existing relationships and form new ones.
Last year's cycle ended with three engagements, though only one couple, Carly Waddell and Evan Bass, is still set to walk down the aisle. Waddell and Bass' nuptials were set to air during the summer Bachelor in Paradise season. It's unclear how ABC would handle televising the nuptials if the season were to be nixed. Yesterday, Bass shared a flashback image of himself with Waddell from last season to his Twitter account; he has been silent since.
See the full list of Bachelor in Paradise season four castmembers below.
Nick “St. Nick” Benvenutti
*Jack Stone (ABC hadn't announced Stone, who is currently competing on Bachelorette. He is shown in the below photo.)
Here's most of the cast at the airport an hour ago. Being told they're being flown to Houston. Still don't know what's going on pic.twitter.com/eNgGp0tyZ1— RealitySteve (@RealitySteve) June 11, 2017
Ashley Cullins contributed to this report.