With the new season of “The Bachelorette” just around the corner, Chris Harrison got on the phone to discuss what the audience can expect when Southern belle Emily Maynard, who broke up with “Bachelor” Brad Womack, meets the 25 new guys who hope to win her heart.
But more interesting was the question: Now that Harrison is newly single, could he possibly become the next “Bachelor”?
“In all seriousness, getting out of a 22-year relationship and having announced my divorce to the world a week ago, having two kids, and trying to start a new life, I am thinking, I wouldn’t exactly be a great candidate to be the bachelor right now or any time soon,” he says.
He also squashed the suggestion by a reporter that his pending divorce has anything to do with the rumor started about him by a bachelorette who accused him of inappropriate behavior with a producer’s wife a few years back, saying, “It was completely a non-issue two years ago and it is still a non-issue now. It was a person in a desperate situation, trying to deflect as much as she could to save herself.”
What Harrison does talk about is how the change in his romantic status will not affect his perspective on the show, and what we can expect from Emily’s season, which is still being filmed, so he can’t comment as to whether or not there will be any overnight dates.
Preview “The Bachelorette”:
Will your pending divorce change your perspective on the show?
Not at all. I had an amazing 18-year marriage to an incredible woman. I have no regrets. I will actually go back further because we have actually been together 22 years. The last 22 years of my life and the love that I had and the family I have and the love I have now and the friendship that I have, I still hold that very dear and cherish it very much. I will hopefully will fall in love again. Maybe more than ever, I believe in the search and what everybody is doing on the show.
Now that you are coming out of that relationship, will you be able to offer more empathy when they bachelors/bachelorettes come to you with their heartbreak?
I always have. If you have ever talked to me, or heard any of my quotes, I have always stuck up and felt terrible for those who have fallen in love and then out of love and then had heartbreak. I have always defended when the tabloids would say, “Oh, another break up.”And treat, say, Ali [Fedotowsy] and Roberto [Martinez] as if it wasn’t a big deal. It was a big deal to them. I know these people personally and I go through this with them on a personal level. Having loved myself and now having felt heartbreak, I know what these people have gone through. I know what they are searching for. The one thing around the world, no matter what country we go to, everybody wants love. That is what makes the show so simple but so genius.
Can you talk about what kind of drama we will be seeing this season?
It is a very different season. It is different drama. You don’t have the frat-house humor and the frat-house drama that you have seen in previous seasons with younger contestants. I kind of liken it to Jason Mesnick’s season — he was a single dad — it is a more serious tone and bigger issues. Calling it drama almost doesn’t do justice to what happens. A lot of it is Emily trying to figure out not only are these guys right for me, but are they right to start a family? I think it is not the superficial drama you have seen in the past. It is a lot deeper. There are more layers to it.
Why did the producers throw in Arie, an ex-race car driver?
First of all, people need to understand that Emily loves the track. She loves racing. That is a huge part of her life and her family. Not to go into the history of what happened, but [NASCAR driver] Ricky [Hendrick] didn’t die at the racetrack. She doesn’t have bad memories of the racetrack. She has fond memories. We have actually talked about it at length. People also need to understand — and I don’t want to get too detailed about this — NASCAR and open-wheel racing might as well be two different sports. You can’t compare what Arie did for a living to NASCAR.
Watch Emily Meet Arie the Race Car Driver:
Will we see any hot tub scenes?
I really don’t know if there is a hot tub scene in this season. You will see her in a bathing suit. We will be on exotic locations. I think the overall question you are getting at is the type of season it will be as far as her sexuality and how she puts herself out there. She carries herself like a lady. She puts herself out there as she wants to be seen by her daughter. She is very careful and very cognizant of that.
Was Bentley Williams considered to be a bachelor, since he said on his season that he had hoped the bachelorette would be Emily?
It was definitely discussed because it was such an obvious storyline. To me, it felt like such low-hanging fruit. Not that we are opposed to twists and turns. We get them every season. I don’t know if we ever talked to him. I just know if he had wanted to come back, which I don’t know if he did, he would have had to do a 180 and shown that he was sincere. The whole point of this show is not to pull a fast one on Emily. To have done that the first night, it would have been about that joke and pulling a fast one on her. That isn’t how this season goes. To mess with her would have been uncool of us.
What kind of guy will be a good fit for her?
Jason being a single dad, it was almost like “Sleepless in Seattle,” with people saying, “Oh, how sweet.” When a woman was doing it, the reaction was totally different. I love our show bringing up the social issue. Is she any less deserving? Emily is a very Southern, traditional woman, but very independent and strong. Definitely, she is looking for a guy to come in and help her take her hands off the wheel for a while. She is in control in her life because of the tragedy [Ricky's death in a plane crash prior to the birth of their daughter Ricki] since she was 19 years old. Think about that. She is ready for someone to come in and help her out and drive the ship for a while. She needs a strong man who can come in and help take control. There are plenty of guys who can do that.
“The Bachelorette” premieres on Monday, 14 at 9:31/8:31c on ABC.