'Bachelorette' Standout Is Front-Runner to Be Next 'Bachelor'

ABC is getting ready to dole out the rose for the next Bachelor.

Peter Weber, a standout from Hannah Brown's recent cycle of The Bachelorette, is the front-runner to lead the 2020 season in the reality dating franchise, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

The 28-year-old Delta pilot from California has been a top choice since his exit from The Bachelorette. Though Weber, who is bilingual and half Cuban, placed third and behind fan-favorite runner-up Tyler Cameron, Weber's run became especially memorable when he was revealed to be the finalist that Brown had sex with — twice — in a windmill-themed suite. The reveal from the sex-positive star went viral during the season, and when Brown and Weber reunited on the live finale in late July, she again shocked the audience when she revealed that they actually had sex four times during their overnight Fantasy Suites date.

Host Chris Harrison had confirmed to THR earlier this month that both Weber and Mike Johnson, another popular contestant who placed sixth on Brown's season, were both "good options" in the running for the starring gig. Speaking before Johnson's debut on the currently airing summer spin-off Bachelor in Paradise, Harrison explained, "We have a little time and we can wait and see where are all these contestants and prospects are when we need to make a decision. We’re going to watch [Johnson] on Paradise and see how people react to him there."

Johnson would be the franchise's first-ever black male lead. Speaking to THR last week, Johnson talked about the potential of being the first veteran and black lead. "To be in that question is definitely flattering. You have to have a certain personality to lead the franchise for a season, and the fact that they even consider me definitely put a smile on my face," he said. "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."

Johnson, 31, is still competing on Paradise and is currently dating Sydney Lotuaco from Colton Underwood's season of The Bachelor. He has not, however, had much airtime, despite being in consideration. Previous cycles of Paradise have served as launching pads for Underwood and 2017 lead Nick Viall, but both of them had major storylines during the summer show.

"You always have to keep in mind the importance," Harrison said about the potential to make franchise history with Johnson. "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?"

The 24th season of The Bachelor goes into production in the fall and airs early January 2020. Because of the schedule, producers typically wait to see how Bachelor Nation responds to prospects over the summer while Paradise is airing before naming the next star. Last year, Underwood was announced in early September.

Another benefit of the longer turnaround (The Bachelorette, by contrast, begins filming quickly after The Bachelor season wraps in the spring) is that contenders can also fall out of the running.

Cameron, a 26-year-old model from Florida, was an obvious front-runner for the gig after his appearance on Brown's Bachelorette. But the contestant, who was the most popular among the audience and has the largest social media following of the three, has been dating supermodel Gigi Hadid since the live finale. Cameron has since fallen out of the top mix, say sources.

"This is just a good example of why we wait," Harrison had told THR of Cameron, who was initially open to rekindling with Brown after she called off her engagement to winner Jed Wyatt. "If we had announced Tyler [as the Bachelor] the day after and then [the Hadid headlines happen], that’s not a good look. It doesn’t exclude him from The Bachelor conversation. It just means that when we get to that point, we’re going to have to have a little deeper of a conversation about where his head is at."

Another surprise name to emerge has been Derek Peth, who has risen in Bachelor Nation popularity while on Paradise. The 32-year-old from New York was praised for how he handled Demi Burnett coming out as sexually fluid and choosing to date a woman instead of continuing to pursue their heterosexual relationship. "He would absolutely be an amazing Bachelor," Burnett told THR when speaking about coming out as queer and embarking on the franchise's first same-sex relationship. A source, however, says Peth hasn't had official talks about the role.

Ultimately, Harrison said the choice comes down to someone being genuine in his search for love and making an entertaining television show. "When we make that decision, we need somebody who is sincerely ready to open their life, step into a relationship and hopefully find something meaningful," Harrison said. "It’s a very particular thing to find, and on top of that, we need to create a great television show like we did with Hannah. If you look back at the two Hannahs — Hannah G. and Hannah B. — they’re both great, but at the end of the day, we thought Hannah B. was going to be a really good television show, and it turns out she was." (Her finale was the franchise's highest-rated show in two years.)

During The Bachelorette, both Weber and winner Wyatt were hit with accusations about abruptly calling off prior relationships to go on the reality show. The truth ended up costing Wyatt his relationship with Brown, but Weber has since cleared up the claim that he was dating someone during the casting process. “The show had absolutely nothing to do with me ending that relationship," Weber told People. “I was very serious in trying to progress that relationship and move it forward. And she wasn’t on the same page as me." Speaking after the finale where he had his heart broken by Brown, he added: "Breakups suck!”