Chris Harrison Threatens to Expose ‘Dirty Laundry’ of ‘The Bachelor,’ Receives Eight-Figure Payoff: Report
The longtime host’s lawyer reportedly vowed “to unleash the Shiva of lawsuits exposing a swath of The Bachelor’s alleged dirty laundry” if his settlement proved insufficient.
It appears The Bachelor has given Chris Harrison his final rose.
The longtime host will exit the ABC franchise he has hosted since 2002, Deadline reports, after defending a contestant’s racist behavior in an Extra TV interview with the first Black Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay. In return, the trade reports, Harrison will walk away with a mid-range eight-figure settlement in exchange for his silence.
Harrison’s representatives have, according to Deadline, “been in increasingly intense negotiations over the past few days with WBTV and, to a lesser extent, the Disney-owned ABC,” with Monday’s Bachelorette premiere serving as a quasi-deadline for negotiations. Harrison’s lawyer, Bryan Freedman, allegedly threatened “to unleash the Shiva of lawsuits exposing a swath of The Bachelor’s alleged dirty laundry” should Harrison receive an insufficient settlement.
The Bachelorette’s 17th season premiered Monday night, with former Bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe on board as temporary co-hosts. The episode awkwardly evaded any discussion of Harrison or Matt James, whose season as the first Black Bachelor imploded when discussion of his eventual winner Rachael Kirkconnell’s past racist behavior broke out in mainstream conversation.
For months, starting before the season even aired, Bachelor obsessives had discussed photos of Kirkconnell and her friends wearing offensive Halloween costumes, and screenshots that seemed to indicate Kirkconnell had “liked” offensive social media posts, including one of two women posed in front of a Confederate flag. The issue received mainstream attention after a photo surfaced of Kirkconnell attending an Old South-themed party, complete with costume.
But when Harrison finally addressed the ordeal on air with Rachel Lindsay, he defended Kirkconnell against what he called the “woke police”—a move that seemed to upset fans and former contestants alike. In an unprecedented move for the franchise, the entire cast of James’ season responded to Harrison’s interview with a joint statement in which they pointedly denounced any defense of racist behavior.
“We are the women of Bachelor Season 25,” the women wrote. “Twenty-five women who identify as BIPOC were cast on this historic season that was meant to represent change. We are deeply disappointed and want to make it clear that we denounce any defense of racism. Any defense of racist behavior denies the lived and continued experiences of BIPOC individuals. These experiences are not to be exploited or tokenized.”
Harrison responded with an apology statement.
The cast from Clare Crawley and Tayshia Adams’ season, which preceded James’s season, shared their own statement as well. Soon enough, discussion shifted toward whether or not Harrison should be fired—a question the show’s Black cast members each answered a little differently.
The Bachelor franchise already has a deeply troubled history when it comes to race; Matt James was named the franchise’s first Black male lead in 18 years only after fan outcry in response to the murder of George Floyd.
Harrison himself has faced scrutiny before as well—like the time he led a stilted conversation about consent to help sanitize Bachelor in Paradise’s image after the series returned just two weeks after a misconduct allegation. (Warner Bros. conducted an investigation at the time and concluded that no misconduct had occurred.)
Adams and Bristowe’s debut as temporary co-hosts was a big hit with fans on Monday night, as the two took a light-hearted approach to their mentorship duties with this season’s Bachelorette, Katie Thurston. The two surprised her just before the limos began arriving, and spent the night screaming and laughing along with viewers—and, in one particularly endearing moment, munching popcorn.
It remains unclear, however, whether Adams and Bristowe’s positions could be made permanent. This year’s Bachelor in Paradise, which debuts August 16, will feature a rotation of guest hosts, including David Spade—whom Deadline notes is a friend of Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss. No plans have emerged for The Bachelor, but if we had to guess, Ben Higgins’ agents are very busy this morning.
In a joint statement, Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment wrote: “Chris Harrison is stepping aside as host of The Bachelor franchise. We are thankful for his many contributions over the past 20 years and wish him all the best on his new journey.”
A representative for Harrison did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.