ABC reveals Jill Harris as 'The Bachelorette,' series to debut May 18
By Steve Rogers, 03/04/2009
ABC apparently can't wait to wash away the bad taste of the ending of Jason Mesnick's The Bachelor season. The network has announced that former The Bachelor bachelorette Jill Harris will serve as the star of a still-unfilmed new The Bachelorette edition that will premiere on May 18.
The network made the announcement at the conclusion of Tuesday night's broadcast of The Bachelor: After the Final Rose Part 2 special that served as the final wrap-up to Mesnick's The Bachelor season, which ended with Mesnick picking Melissa Rycroft in the show's Final Rose Ceremony but then dumping her in favor of Molly Malaney -- the woman he originally dumped in favor of Rycroft -- on-air during the taping of season's initial After The Final Rose special six weeks later.
"It was really a pretty easy decision for us to make," The Bachelor and The Bachelorette host Chris Harrison gushed about the decision to make Harris the star of The Bachelorette's fifth season. "There was one girl on [The Bachelor] this season that really captured America's heart and the groundswell of support for her to be the next Bachelorette was overwhelming. Ladies and gentlemen, help me welcome our new Bachelorette... Jillian!"
Harris -- a 29-year-old interior designer from Peace River, Alberta, Canada -- made it to Mesnick's penultimate Rose Ceremony before he cut her in favor of Final 2 bachelorettes Rycroft and Malaney.
"I think there's some pros and some cons. I guess the biggest thing is that I always wanna protect my family and I really am very serious about finding somebody," Harris said during a conference call with reporters two weeks ago. "I don't wanna be really famous and I don't really wanna be an actress. I pay my own bills and I guess what I'm trying to say is part of me wants to stop while I'm ahead. I think I did a great job representing myself on [The Bachelor]."
"But the other part of me really does wanna find somebody, and the other part of me thinks 'You know what Jill? You gave it a shot once, now maybe your Prince Charming is right around the corner,'" Harris continued. "So I don't know. I really would have to think hard about it, and now I'm having all these questions asked to me and its making me think about it more. I'll have to wait and see if anything actually serious pops up, and if they ask me I'll have to have a little conversation with my parents and see what the family says."
However based on her comments during After the Final Rose Part 2, which was filmed in Los Angeles late last week, her family conversation apparently went well.
"I'm a very lucky person," Harris told Harrison. "I've been a huge fan of the show since Day 1 and I've always looked at The Bachelorette as 'Oh my god, they're so lucky, how did they get there?' and now I'm sitting here -- it's very surreal."
"Although I know there are no guarantees, it is a great, great opportunity to me to meet 25 guys that are a good match for me and I fell in love once before and know that this is a great venue for me to fall in love again," Harris said. "There's something magical about it that you can't get in real life and I think anybody who has the opportunity do something like this -- it is very unlike the real world -- but it does allow you to open your heart up, which I needed."
Given the show's premiere date is already only ten weeks away, the show's production will be beginning "very soon," according to Harrison.
"I think it will be very unreal," Harris said. "It's one of those things that, you have to be realistic, it's a very unorthodox way to find love, but we are living in a world where people do things differently and there's Internet dating and there's blind dating, but there's something really magical about ABC finding girls like us that were great for Jason and allowing us to get to know each other so quickly."
"I will be the first one to admit I was skeptical -- I knew I wanted to fall in love but I wasn't sure it could happen in this fashion, but the feelings are very real... and I definitely fell in love... so I'm willing to give it another shot."
"I guess the only thing I fear is that I hope I make the right choice the first time," Harris joked to Harrison. "The only other fear that I have is that I do not need my dad to see any more hot tub scenes... I have not lived that one [with Jason] down [yet]."
Although reports that the network was planning to air another The Bachelorette edition this summer have swirled for months, Tuesday's After the Final Rose Part 2 broadcast also marked ABC's first official acknowledgement that it had ordered a fifth edition of the reality dating series.
While Harris will be the first Canadian to serve as the star of The Bachelorette, she will not be the reality franchise's first foreign star. Last year, British financier Matt Grantserved as the star of The Bachelor's twelfth season.
Harris' The Bachelorette edition will premiere with a special two-hour broadcast on Monday, May 18 at 9PM ET/PT -- immediately after ABC's broadcast of Dancing with the Stars' final eighth-season performance show.