Deadline reports that Chris Harrison will officially end his two-decade-long run as host on The Bachelor franchises. The news comes after a nasty spat Harrison instigated with former contestant and Bachelorette lead Rachel Lindsay, during which he said: “I am not the woke police,” among other nonsensical claims about forgiveness and healing for a contestant who wasn’t owed either. Later, Lindsay accused Harrison of calling her “angry” after a contestant on her season of The Bachelorette had disrespected her, to which she said, “That’s a strong word.”
“Harrison’s reps have been in increasingly intense negotiations over the past few days with WBTV and, to a lesser extent, the Disney-owned ABC,” according to Deadline. The outlet also claims that for his time served, he will receive an “eight-figure payoff and a promise to keep his mouth shut.”
Eight figures... eight figures... like, $10 million is the baseline both parties have landed on? Deadline claims the kicker in closing this deal was Harrison’s team threatening to “unleash the Shiva of lawsuits exposing a swath of The Bachelor’s alleged dirty laundry unless his Gersh-repped client emerged feeling the financial love.” Definitely not the verbiage I would have chosen myself, but the message is clear. If Deadline is to be believed, ABC and WBTV really, really, really didn’t want Harrison to open his mouth about that so-called “dirty laundry.”
As February was somehow one million years ago already, here’s a quick refresher on his downfall. Amid Matt James’s rollout as the very first Black Bachelor in the franchise’s history, photos surfaced of contestant and winner Rachael Kirkconnell at an antebellum theme party. To be clear, James had already closed the deal with Kirkconnell by the time those photos surfaced, and from his own account, broke up with her immediately. Concurrently, Lindsay, who was also the very first Black Bachelorette, asked Harrison about the photos on an episode of Extra. He doubled down in support of Kirkconnell, telling Lindsay he was not the “woke police,” and informing her and the audience that the picture was fine in 2018, just not in 2021.
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He later “apologized,” as did Kirkconnell.
James later released his own statement:
“Watching Chris’s failure to receive and understand the emotional labor that my friend Rachel Lindsay was taking on by graciously and patiently explaining the racist history of the Antebellum South, a painful history that every American should understand intimately, was troubling and painful to watch.”
Friends and fellow contestants were quick to throw in their lot with both James and Lindsay following Harrison’s unraveling. In a conversation later on her podcast, Lindsay said: “You almost feel like you know everything you need to know about her in that picture.”
In the face of it all, I’m stuck on the eight-figure payout Harrison will allegedly walk away with. He isn’t the first to see a windfall among controversy, and he probably won’t be the last. Question, though: Have ABC and Warner Bros. Television also compensated Lindsay, James, and all the other contestants fighting to save their struggling franchise the same amount, or even a fraction of Harrison’s supposed payout?