7:52am PT by Jackie Strause
'Bachelor in Paradise' Door Still Open for DeMario Jackson to Return
DeMario Jackson hasn't yet returned to Mexico, but viewers could still see him back on Bachelor in Paradise.
Over the weekend, producers on the ABC reality series were plotting how the show will address the controversy when Paradise airs later this summer, sources told The Hollywood Reporter. Even though Jackson wasn't included in the first round of contestants who returned to the Sayulita, Mexico, set at the end of last week, the producers haven't given up on his joining the show at a later date, or even for a one-off sit-down to tell his side of the story, a source tells THR.
Since Warner Bros. Television cleared his name by concluding their investigation into a sexual encounter between Jackson and fellow contestant Corinne Olympios, Jackson has been speaking out to tell his side of the story.
“When you're a man, an African-American man, you always look for things that can help you out," he explained to E! News' Melanie Bromley in the first part of a two-night interview that aired Monday. He claimed that Olympios was the "aggressor" when the two hooked up in Paradise and that when she asked him to continue their "hot and heavy" encounter in the pool, he "made sure the cameras followed us." (The word "aggressive" has also been the source of a racially charged feud playing out on The Bachelorette.)
After Monday's interview aired, Bromley revealed on former Bachelor stars Ben Higgins' and Ashley Iaconetti's iHeartRadio podcast that Jackson was still considering the open invitation from Paradise producers.
Paradise reunites former Bachelor and Bachelorette stars in hopes of making love connections and invites new batches of stars onto the show as the weeks go on. As THR reported, contrary to many reports, Jackson has yet to make up his mind about whether he will return in one of those later groups. (Jackson declined to comment.)
"He's had two instances where he's looked like the bad guy and in both instances he says he's innocent," Bromley explained on the Almost Famous podcast, referencing when Jackson was eliminated on The Bachelorette when a woman confronted lead Rachel Lindsay, claiming to be Jackson's girlfriend. "He went on Bachelor in Paradise to redeem himself, he now feels like that has been an unfair chance and wants to redeem himself again." Bromley added that during their conversations, she suggested to Jackson that returning might be a bad idea. Still, she said, "he very much wants to tell his side and explain to people who he is."
Iaconetti, who formerly starred on two seasons of Paradise, along with Chris Soules' season of The Bachelor, said she had on good authority that the show plans to air "a lot" of the footage that led up to the shutdown on the season, but that she thought Jackson and Olympios might be cut out of what ends up airing.
WBTV announced that they had suspended production of the upcoming fourth season on June 11, but the cameras didn't actually stop rolling until June 7, THR has confirmed. Producers captured footage June 4-7 before the complaint that was filed by one of the producers brought things to a halt. In addition to the encounter between Jackson and Olympios — which was caught on tape — several castmembers went on one-on-one dates, and a source previously told THR there was enough footage for at least one episode.
Since WBTV said it does not intend to release the tape, it is likely that the encounter between the pair would be cut from the episode. WBTV would not comment if any footage of Jackson and Olympios would be included in what does make it to air.
Jackson has been adamant about the public seeing the tape's contents to prove his innocence in the situation. Despite WBTV's findings of no misconduct, Olympios is continuing her own investigation with attorney Marty Singer.
"There's so much risk in them showing it in my eyes, but if they do, it shows some confidence from the production company," Higgins, a former lead of The Bachelor, said on the podcast. "I guess maybe the audience [can] be the judge?"
Bachelor in Paradise is set to air later this summer on ABC. The series was initially set to bow Aug. 8 and producers have every incentive to hit the date, or as close to it as possible. The original cast, except for Jackson and Olympios, resumed filming over the weekend and the filming schedule will conclude July 5.
Listen to Almost Famous below.