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'Bachelor Pad' host Chris Harrison: Mike Stagliano came back for love but then things changed


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 07/19/2012 

Bachelor Pad viewers only have a few more days to wait for the third season of the ABC reality series to begin on Monday, only one night after the special Sunday night finale to Emily Maynard's eighth season of The Bachelorette.

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Bachelor Pad's third season will feature a twist in which five The Bachelor franchise "Super Fans" -- including identical twins Brittany Taltos and Erica Taltos, who will be competing as one contestant -- also compete with or against, and possibly date, this season's collection of returning bachelors and bachelorettes.

In addition to eighth-season The Bachelorette bachelors Tony Pieper, Kalon McMahon and Chris Bukowski, the cast will also include numerous other notable bachelors and bachelorettes from previous editions -- including Erica Rose, Ed Swiderski, Michael Stagliano, Lindzi Cox, and Blakeley Shea

During a Thursday conference call with reporters, Chris Harrison talked to Reality TV World about the upcoming Bachelor Pad season and some of the drama due to unfold -- including why fans' positive opinion of Chris may change, what influenced Tony to compete on the show after he quit The Bachelorette because he missed his son immensely, and why the producers decided to give Mike "Stags" and Erica another Bachelor Pad chance.  

Below is the first portion of Chris' call. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion.

Reality TV World: It looks like Chris Bukowski may come across very differently to viewers this time on Bachelor Pad than he did during his time on The Bachelorette. So do you think maybe there was a side to Chris that The Bachelorette viewers didn't get to see or could his behavior be a direct result of his breakup with Emily Maynard in that maybe because of the hurt he went through, he wasn't ready to open himself up to finding love again?

Chris Harrison: Maybe all of the above. I don't know, and the other thing is, I don't really know how viewers will perceive him on Bachelor Pad. I always have my opinion of how I think people will be seen and how they acted on a show and it usually, sometimes, doesn't really jive with the popular opinion.

So, I don't know. Again, I'll have to leave it up to the viewers. That's one of the beautiful things about the show, is even after all this, I think half his fans will love him, half will be upset, and it'll really just depend. But that's the way it is with The Bachelor and The Bachelorette too.

Reality TV World: Tony Pieper basically left The Bachelorette because he missed his son terribly and couldn't stand being away from him for a long period of time. So it was surprising when we found out he was going to be competing on Bachelor Pad. What do you think made the difference? Why was Tony okay with being away from his son for Bachelor Pad but couldn't do it for The Bachelorette?

Chris Harrison: Well, that's the first thing I asked. He got out of the limo and I asked, "What are you doing here, (laughs) you know, like after the big crying session in the alley and you were so worried about your son?" I think he got home and he got a little perspective and he realized that -- and I have kids, so I also know how this feels, because I travel.

You miss your kids a lot more than they miss you, and I think he was freaking out and he got home and realized his son was just fine and the world kept turning and everything was okay and his son was being cared for. I think he felt like if he came back and won a quarter of a million dollars, then he could definitely impact his son's life and his own. So, I think he felt like the risk was worth it.

Reality TV World: Mike Stagliano is competing in the upcoming season. What was the thought process in whether to allow him to return to the show again after actually winning the grand prize last season? Were you worried fans wouldn't approve since he already claimed a victory, and if he was to win again this season, would the rules change at all?

Chris Harrison: Well I mean, Stags was such a fan-favorite, and he was definitely on the losing end of the love triangle with [Holly Durst] and [Blake Julian].

And so, I think in bringing back a past champion -- we've brought back past people before -- but we've never brought back any champs. And so, we just thought it would be a different dynamic and it'd be interesting to see what would happen to kind of a beloved figure but also a defending champ.

You really see those competing views throughout this show, because he is definitely savvy. He is smart at playing the game. But it's interesting how the other people look at him. He was a bit of a celebrity when he walked in the house, and he was kind of treated as such. He really played upon that and played upon -- he's a good game player.

He plays the game very well again, because he knew being the defended champ, again, he had a mark on his back. And so, he had to be very careful how he kind of integrated himself into the house. And you'll see, he does so very wisely.

Reality TV World: When ABC announced Bachelor Pad's Season 3 cast, it said Mike was willing to give up his second-season prize money to find love. Can you explain what that means? Did he have to give up his prize money from Season 2 in order to compete on Season 3 or something like that?

Chris Harrison: No, no. I think he was just making the comment that -- or what, I think, he was trying to convey -- is that he wasn't here for the money this time. He was really here to hopefully find love and meet somebody. And so, the money, he just definitely wasn't in it for the money. I think last time, he was. He was here to win. I'm talking about Season 2, when he won. He was definitely here to play the game.

And I think this season, at least outwardly, he came in just to try and make a relationship and find love although he quickly got caught up in the game. I think he's just such a gamer and he's such a schemer, I don't think he could help himself.

He found himself quickly right back where he was last season, trying to survive and doing what it took to survive -- although, he took a different role this time. You'll see what I mean when you watch, that he had to play a very different role to survive.

Reality TV World: You talked a little bit about why you added the Super Fans to Bachelor Pad and that you thought it had an interesting affect. So do you think the idea was successful enough to utilize the format again in future editions of the show? Would you guys consider doing that?

Chris Harrison: I hope so. Again, the final decision would be above my pay grade. But in my opinion, I'll tell them that it definitely worked. It definitely made the impression we were hoping for and it added an incredible dynamic, and again, I think our show is almost not as much about Bachelor Pad as it is kind of an homage to the fans.

I feel like we owe it to our fans. It's been 10 years and they have followed us and blessed us more than any other show almost in the history of television. And so, no other show really has a way to pay back their fans like we do and kind of involve our fans.

That was kind of the reason for bringing them on in the first place and kind of part of the reason for the live After the Final Rose finale as well -- to create more of a Super Bowl-viewing moment where we're all in this together. I mean, there's so much group-viewing. With Emily and with [Ben Flajnik], we went and crashed some viewing parties.

And so, our show just lends itself to that and we've just been so amazed and blessed by the following that we've had that we thought, "You know what? Let's do this for them and also for us. There's a bit of selfishness in it because it is a great dynamic, and I hope we do it again, because I really think it worked. I do.

Reality TV World: What went into the decision to allow Erica Rose to compete on Bachelor Pad another season? Was it because she knew already knew Kalon McMahon [outside the show] and they had a love-hate relationship that already existed or was it because they just figured she'd be a very entertaining player once again?

Chris Harrison: She's awesome! You can't help but not love Erica, I mean, she's such a great character. (Laughs) She is the person that turns the heat under the pot and then doesn't realize she's in the middle of it. (Laughs) She's great TV. She's great to watch and she's a great character, and she's a lot more savvy than people give her credit for.

If you judge that book by it's cover, you're the one being played. She's very interesting, and so, we were bringing back Stags and we're like, "You know, let's bring back a woman as well from a prior season." And so, Erica's great. She's great TV and she's a good character and she's fun to watch. So it was kind of a no-brainer as well.

Reality TV World: You mentioned during your blog this week that you would've loved to see Ryan Bowers on Bachelor Pad, and you're hoping maybe he'll do it for Season 4.

Chris Harrison: Oh, I do! Yeah.

Reality TV World: So did you guys ask him to do this upcoming season but he turned it down or what's the story there?

Chris Harrison: Honestly, I don't know. I'm sure they talked to him, but also, we're very careful about trying to leave a few bullets in the gun, because if we feel like, "Okay, we have the guys for this season," we don't need to -- it's one of those shows where you don't want to have everybody on, because people are going to get voted off.

So the casting of it is a very delicate balance, and so, I don't know if there was a conflict in his life or what, or if the producers just decided, "Look, we have a great cast. We don't need to pull anybody to add him. Let's save him for next year and then we'll know we have at least one good guy already ready to go for next season." So -- already thinking ahead.

And we do. We have to start thinking well ahead of the game to start producing the next The Bachelorette and the next The Bachelor and all that, because we kind of already know the calendar year out.

Reality TV World: Going into the season, who did you expect to cause the most drama and why did you think that? Did you end up being accurate?

Chris Harrison: No, because (laughs) again, I thought it was one of those seasons where who you think is going to create the most drama are easy picks like Kalon, even Erica Rose -- I'm trying to think quickly off the top of my head of who else is on the show. But those definitely weren't the characters that took center stage as far as stirring things up and you'll be very shocked at who does.

I mean, obviously we've made mention of Chris and how he kind of becomes the center of attention, but he's not the only one who'll you'll be kind of very shocked by about who gets really emotional and who gets really kind of into the thick of things.

Also during the call, Chris told reporters whether it was difficult for the "Super Fans" to fit into their new environment.

Why did you want to throw the Super Fans into the Bachelor Pad mix?

Chris Harrison: I mean, I think more than any other show, our show just lends itself to involving the fans. We have such an amazing group of fans and they are rabid fans, and I think our show -- more than another other show on TV also -- lends itself to group-viewing.

I don't think anybody watches the show alone and I don't think any other show has this kind of 365 days a year news cycle now, and obviously, that's thanks to a lot of you guys on the call.

It really has become the modern-day soap opera, and so we thought, "What a great way to kind of expand the show and bring in some of these fans and see what that dynamic is like, because I think our fans are really like none other in television."

Given how tight-knit The Bachelorette and The Bachelor alumni tend to be, did you anticipate it being very difficult to integrate the "Super Fans" going into the show?

Chris Harrison: Absolutely, you know they're behind the eight ball when they walk in the door. That was definitely part of it in that they had to overcome that. But you'll see that it's very interesting, especially for the cute girls, how quickly they were able to integrate into the system and win over [people]. (Laughs)

Because Bachelor Pad, the way it's set up, it's not exactly the alumni versus the newbies. It's kind of a boys versus girls, and so, it's really up to the girls to get to know the guys better. And that is obviously a lot easier than trying to win over the women.

Everyone thinks of Chris from The Bachelorette as a sweet, nice guy. Do you think viewers will change their minds based upon his decisions this season?

Chris Harrison: Yeah I mean, yeah. I will say this about Bachelor Pad. I think who you love to hate and who you love may drastically change by the time everyone leaves Bachelor Pad. Kalon during the [The Men Tell All kind of put it best, "Expect the unexpected." Now, will Kalon redeem himself and become this lovable figure? I think he thinks so, (laughs) but I think he always thinks that everybody loves him.

So, I don't think everyone's going to drastically change, but I think you'll be surprised at some of the behavior and by the way some of your favorite characters on the show act for sure.

Above is the first portion of Chris' call. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion.

(Photo credit ABC)


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