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Chris Harrison reportedly will not host this season of ‘Bachelor in Paradise’

“The Bachelor” host Chris Harrison, right, with leading man Matt James.
“The Bachelor” host Chris Harrison, right, with leading man Matt James.
(Craig Sjodin / ABC)

Longtime “The Bachelor” host Chris Harrison, swept up in an ongoing racial controversy, reportedly will not host this season of “Bachelor in Paradise.”

Hosting duties will be instead taken up by celebrity comedians including David Spade, according to “those familiar with the plans,” Variety reported Wednesday. At the time of the story’s publication, Spade’s deal was reportedly the only one closed among those to whom offers had been made.

Neither ABC Entertainment nor Warner Horizon has made official statements regarding “Bachelor in Paradise” plans, Harrison’s status with the franchise or a contract for Spade. Representatives for the show did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment Thursday. The new season of “Bachelor in Paradise” is set to bow Aug. 16.

Harrison has been under fire since a disastrous February interview with the first Black lead on “The Bachelorette,” Rachel Lindsay, on “Extra.” They were talking about a controversy that had erupted during that season of “The Bachelor,” No. 25, which featured the franchise’s first Black leading man, Matt James.

Photos had surfaced of one of the leading contestants, Rachael Kirkconnell, who is white, at a 2018 fraternity party celebrating the antebellum South. In the interview, when Lindsay called the photos “not a good look,” Harrison was dismissive of the controversy, implying it might not have been offensive at the time and saying he wasn’t the “woke police.”

Chris Harrison, host of “The Bachelor,” says he is “stepping aside” after making controversial statements about race.

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Lindsay responded that it would have been offensive in 2018 as well: “It’s not a good look ever because she’s celebrating the Old South. ... What would I represent at that party?”

Following that interview, Harrison apologized via Instagram, writing, “By excusing historical racism, I defended it. ... I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong.” He announced he was “stepping aside” and did not host the rest of that season of “The Bachelor.”

Kirkconnell also apologized via Instagram: “I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them. My age or when it happened does not excuse anything. They are not acceptable or okay in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist … I hope I can earn your forgiveness through my future actions.”

On Instagram, James wrote, “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.”

Chris Harrison, suspended host of “The Bachelor,” has walked back controversial comments he made about the past actions of a contestant.

Kirkconnell went on to “win” the season, though she and James have been publicly on-again, off-again since their season aired.

In early March, Harrison appeared on “Good Morning America,” where cohost Michael Strahan asked him if he stood by his remarks that the antebellum party might have been OK in 2018. Harrison responded, “Antebellum parties are not OK — past, present, future ... I am an imperfect man. I made a mistake and I own that. I believe that mistake doesn’t reflect who I am or what I stand for. I am committed to the progress — not just for myself, also for the franchise.”

The longtime “Bachelor” franchise host also said in that “GMA” interview, “I plan to be back and I want to be back. And I think this franchise can be an important beacon of change. I know that change is felt, not just by me, but by many others. And we are excited and willing to do the work to show that progress.”

After Rachel Lindsay criticized Chris Harrison for defending the racist actions of a contestant, ‘Bachelor’ producers defended her against a backlash.

“This interview is not the finish line,” he added. “There is much more work to be done. And I am excited to be a part of that change.”

Later that month, ABC Entertainment and Warner Horizon announced he would not be hosting the summer season of “The Bachelorette”; fan-favorite alums Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe will instead get the gig.

“We support Chris in the work that he is committed to doing,” the companies said in the joint statement announcing that Harrison would not work on the season premiering June 7.

Rachel Lindsay, the ‘Bachelor’ franchise’s first Black female lead, is stepping away from a popular podcast. ‘I’ve been struggling. That’s no secret.’

Lindsay, meanwhile, has left social media in the wake of racist abuse online. “I’m exhausted,” she said on her “Higher Learning” podcast. “I have truly had enough. ... I wanted to be representative as a Black woman to this audience. ... I wanted the franchise to be better ... but how much more can I take of things like this?”

Neither ABC Entertainment nor Warner Horizon have announced whether Harrison will return to the franchise; sitting out these two 2021 shows means the earliest he could return would be 2022, for the 26th season of “The Bachelor.”


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