6:15am PT by Christina Schoellkopf
Chris Harrison Previews 'Bachelor: Winter Games'
Let the games begin! Now that Bachelor in Paradise has wrapped its fourth-season run, it's time for fans to set their sights on the next franchise spin-off: Bachelor: Winter Games.
ABC announced in May that the new unscripted series would feature archrivals, villains and memorable alumni of the long-running reality series as they compete in athletic challenges, “including the toughest sport of all: love." The show will be set in Vermont, according to franchise creator Mike Fleiss, and is set to bow in February, timed to the 2018 Winter Olympics.
But what exactly can Bachelor Nation expect from the freshman series, and which familiar faces will return to star? Host Chris Harrison, who has been a part of reality dating shows under the Bachelor umbrella since its inaugural season in 2001, offered a tease of what viewers can expect when speaking with The Hollywood Reporter.
“It’s going to be very different. It’s going to be fun. I’m very excited," he recently told THR on the set of Bachelor in Paradise, which aired its finale Monday. "We’re still working out the creative aspects of the whole thing, and I’ll be producing on it as well. But I know what’s in store, just the broad strokes.”
ABC reality chief Rob Mills had explained to THR that the idea for Winter Games came from asking themselves: What would a winter version of Paradise look like? Though the show was bogged down by controversy this season, the ratings were a success.
"At the end of the day, it’s going to be about finding love again," said Mills, senior vp alternative series. "It will have some of the Bachelor Pad DNA, in that there is going to be a competition element. And the other thing we're excited about is having contestants form the international formats of The Bachelor. So you have somebody from Bachelor Japan, Bachelor Australia, Bachelor Canada and Bachelor U.K. We’re really excited to see if we can have some international romances as well as the competition in U.S. vs. the world."
Winter Games’ production comes on the heels of ABC’s midseason shutdown of Paradise. A misconduct complaint halted filming for nearly two weeks, though the show ultimately resumed when the investigation found that nothing suspect took place. The incident in question was a sexual encounter between two contestants who had been drinking, Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson, and both appeared face-to-face for the first time since the shutdown on Monday's studio special.
Paradise, however, resumed with new rules in place. Returning castmembers could drink only two drinks per hour and were required to document their consent before intimate moments. When asked how future Bachelor show policies would be affected by BIP’s situation, Harrison explained: “I don’t think anything else will be changed. We will be more vigilant, more careful, more understanding and watchful over these people."
He continued, “We, myself included, feel very protective. These aren’t TV people. They’re not fake characters. They’re people we really love, so we’ll continue to care for them, and look out for them and their best interests. If new things come to light and we can do things to protect them even more, then we’ll do it. It’s kind of like with my kids: If I learn a new way to parent and a new way to help my kids, then hell yeah I’m going do it. It’s the same for the cast.”
Harrison also revealed which reality stars he hopes will go head-to-head on Winter Games, which will have an athletic component layered in with an ongoing journey to find love.
The two on the top of his list are twins Emily and Haley Ferguson, first featured on Ben Higgins’ Bachelor season in 2016, who also appeared on Paradise season three and one episode of season four. During their latest stint in Mexico, they called two castmates "ugly, shallow whores," threw scallops at another and stormed off after only one day on set. Harrison explains why he still wants them back: “The twins have to be there. I love the twins. They’re like, ‘This might be the last time you see us!’ and I’m like, 'Never. I’ll always have you in my life.'"
The host hopes to include some athletes as well, naming former NFL football player Ryan Sutter, winner and husband to original Bachelorette Trista Sutter, as one of his top choices. The pick indicates that stars who are no longer single could also compete.
While on the set of Paradise, THR also spoke with several fan favorites to hear if they would be game to compete in the Green Mountain State. See what they had to say below:
Wells Adams (Bachelorette season 12, Paradise seasons three and four): “I would probably only return as the bartender. [Adams served as Paradise’s season four barkeep.] The bartender is a cushy gig. I’m not a very good snowboarder or skier or anything, so I’m not sure if I’d want to be a competitor. But if they want me to make hot chocolates on the sidelines, then I’m totally game. The weight that gets taken off your shoulders in terms of being worried about getting roses every week is replaced with the weight of trying to give your friends good advice in their life and in how they’re being perceived on television, which is kind of a freaky thing.”
Amanda Stanton (Bachelor season 20, Paradise seasons three and four): “No. [Paradise season four] is my last time on a Bachelor show, but I’m glad that I did it. It’s kind of like my last shot at everything, and I had a lot of fun. I’m really glad I came back, but it’s my last time.”
Jasmine Goode (Bachelor season 21, Paradise season four): “Paradise was the bomb, but I kind of want to be single and date — but I’m not saying no. Never say never. I’m single and if Winter Games pops up, why not? I love competing; I’m an athlete.” [Goode listed “pro basketball dancer” as her career on her official ABC biography.]
Diggy Moreland (Bachelorette season 13, Paradise season four): “It’s weird because you get into this whole family environment where it’s kind of like ‘All right. I’m used to this now.’ So I definitely would be very open to maybe doing Winter Games or Bachelor in Paradise [again]. I love Mexico and I had a great time, so I would do it.”
Christen Whitney (Bachelor season 21, Paradise season four): “At this point in time, I just have to say that I don’t know. It would depend on the circumstance that I was walking into. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs since [Paradise], to be completely frank. If you had asked me two days ago, then absolutely not. If you ask me tomorrow, you know, I really do love and respect the producers a lot. And I have a couple of friends on the show that I love, so if they were going to be going and there was actually going to be a chance that I could meet someone, then maybe yes.”