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When ABC’s After Paradise premiered two weeks ago, the absence of veteran Bachelor host Chris Harrison did not go unnoticed.
Viewers, who are collectively referred to as Bachelor Nation, were up in arms.
“I didn’t walk away from The Bachelor or Bachelor Nation,” Harrison tells The Hollywood Reporter in an exclusive interview. “I was worried because the impression I was getting off social media is that everyone thought I was just too busy and had chosen to walk away from The Bachelor and one of its shows. The last comment that did it was somebody mentioning that I was too good for it — that’s not the case at all.”
So Harrison took to Twitter to say that the decision, in fact, wasn’t his.
— Chris Harrison (@chrisbharrison) August 17, 2016
Since The Bachelor first launched in 2002, the ABC franchise has spawned its long-running sister series, The Bachelorette, seasonal After the Final Rose finale specials, two spinoff series, five TV wedding specials and two talk shows — all hosted by Harrison.
The choice to swap out the face of the franchise didn’t come from the network but was instead made at the production level, sources tell THR. ABC sent out a news release on the day of the After Paradise season-two premiere that included the new hosts and made no mention of Harrison’s former role. ABC and franchise creator Mike Fleiss declined comment for this story.
Harrison, who is the host for Bachelor in Paradise, is currently busy filming his other ABC hosting gig for syndicated game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? at Bally’s in Las Vegas. He’s also returning to host the Miss America pageant in September. But Harrison says he would have found a way to make it work.
“The Bachelor is always going to be my first love and I’m very loyal to it and had carved it into my schedule,” he says. “It would have been difficult flying back and forth, but that’s always going to be my first position. I’m loyal to the brand.”
After Paradise premiered Aug. 9, during the second week of Bachelor in Paradise. The summer spinoff series draws franchise fan favorites to Sayulita, Mexico, with an open bar and opportunity to find love. Bachelor in Paradise moved from one night to two in its second week, with After Paradise following Tuesday’s condensed one-hour show.
While this season of Bachelor in Paradise is registering with summer viewers — the premiere jumped nearly 30 percent from the season-one premiere with a 1.4 rating among adults 18-49 — viewership for the aftershow is down. Its first two weeks saw same-day ratings of 0.6 and 0.5 in the 18-49 demo, respectively. By comparison, the Harrison-hosted season one finale of After Paradise saw a same-day 1.1 rating.
Harrison, who says he pushed to have Collins, formerly of The View, on the show last year because she’s funny, is tuning in each week.
“I love Sean and Michelle,” he says. “They’re both good friends of mine and I wish them well. Michelle is so good and Sean’s a great guy.”
With the jury still out on the highly anticipated next Bachelor, the franchise could seize an opportunity to boost ratings by announcing the next star of the 21st cycle on After Paradise.
Fleiss announced Aug. 11 that he would be revealing the next Bachelor from his Twitter account, instructing viewers to “stay tuned.” But a week later, rather than announcing the news, he has turned it into a challenge to see if he can grow his account to 100,000 followers while offering only generic clues to who the new mystery man is.
In the show’s history, a Bachelor or Bachelorette has never been announced on social media.
One thing that Bachelor Nation can count on, however, is Harrison being there when Bachelor returns.
“Bachelor Nation has nothing to worry about, I’m not going anywhere,” he says. “I will definitely be back for Bachelor and Bachelorette and for all of my other hosting duties.”
“I appreciate all the support,” he says.
Bachelor in Paradise airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC and After Paradise airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
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