'Bachelorette' host: Bentley Williams was "just so smooth" with Ashley
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 06/02/2011
The Bachelorette host Chris Harrison is no fan of Bentley Williams, who managed to become the show's most-talked about seventh-season bachelor before it even began.
SPOILER WARNING: THIS INTERVIEW CONTAINS INFORMATION ABOUT NEXT WEEK'S THE BACHELORETTE EPISODE.
Williams' reputation proceeded his The Bachelorette arrival when Michelle Money, Ashley Hebert's fellow former The Bachelor bachelorette, warned the new Bachelorette that he would not be appearing on the show for the right reasons before filming started.
And once the show began, Williams wasted little time proving the warning was merited when the 28-year-old Salt Lake City businessman privately admitted he was not attracted to Hebert and was just competing for the thrill of the game while he also made crude and derogatory remarks about the Bachelorette, who brushed off Money's warning and still became smitten with him.
On Wednesday, The Bachelorette host Chris Harrison -- who had already publicly confirmed Williams will voluntarily leave the show during ABC's Monday night broadcast of the season's third episode -- talked with reporters about Williams' behavior and how his departure had a devastating impact on Hebert.
During the media conference call, Harrison told Reality TV World about the details of his own repeated warnings to Hebert, what the show's producers told Hebert about Williams after she was devastated by his exit, and how the show's producers would justify Williams' possible return later in the season.
Click here to read the first part of Harrison's lengthy conference call -- which also included his response to reporters' questions about why he doesn't believe the show went too far in airing some of Williams' more risque comments, whether he knew anything about Williams' plans before the season began filming, and if the show's producers may have opted to step in more forcefully if the bachelor had not opted to leave the show.
Below are additional highlights from the reminder of Harrison's call with the press -- in which he explained what he thought attracted Hebert to Williams and whether he believes she fell in love with the bachelor, how long Williams' departure affected Hebert's investment in the show and whether it changed how she treated the other men the rest of the season, how the other bachelors reacted to Williams and his intentions, and when Hebert finally learned of all Williams' distasteful comments.
Since Bentley is a father and was shown on The Bachelorette being so disrespectful to women, did he talk at all about how he would want other men to treat his daughter?
Chris Harrison: You know, I didn't get to know Bentley that well, because when I get to know the guys is really from the fourth week on when we start traveling around the world and I spend a lot of time with these guys in airports, hotels, and such.
So, I didn't really get to know him because it all happened within the first couple weeks. But I feel the same way. I have a son and I have a daughter, and I just can't fathom treating a woman -- I couldn't fathom treating a woman like that anyway -- but much less someone who has a daughter.
I can't -- I really hope that he comes back to the [The Bachelorette: The Men Tell All special] not so I can rip him apart or whatever. I just would really like to hear his explanation. I would like to ask him that exact question, "Could you imagine a man treating your daughter like that someday and what would you think?"
I'd love to hear his response, because I don't know what his ingame was or what his motivations were. Someone said he was just promoting business or whatever, but I don't see how that happened. The way he -- things he said and things he did really crossed the line of decency as far as I'm concerned.
You form relationships with the people on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, so how hard was it for you to see the end result of what happened between Ashley and Bentley?
Chris Harrison: Really hard. She's a friend of mine, but it gets to the point -- and this is one of the things I find fascinating about this show -- that I'm not longer a host. I'm a friend and I'm about to watch somebody have their heart broken.
If you've ever been a grown adult, had any kind of friends who have been in relationships, you've seen this happen before where you know the person they're dating or falling for is not good for them.
The more you scream from the rooftops and tell them, what do they do? The more they run to them, the more they defend them, the more they defend their own choices, and that's what happened with Ashley. The more we fought, the more I told her, the more the producers said, the more she defended this guy.
So, it just got to the point where I just realized, "You know what? She's going to have a broken heart. She's going to be hurt, and now all I can do is stand by and watch it and then be there for her when it happens."
This isn't just TV. It happens in life all the time, and at some point, you just have to sit back and say, "Okay, I'm you're friend. I'll be here for you." And I can see the train coming down the track a mile away.
You said Ashley was trying to do things differently this season, but what do you think attracted her to Bentley? Was it his bad boy persona or what did she see in him?
Chris Harrison: You know, it's funny. I talked to her after -- you'll see in the deliberation Monday night, it was very much not a deliberation. This was a friend walking in to pick up the pieces of another friend who had just had their heart ripped apart.
I asked her, "What was it about this guy that just got under your skin?" She never really could answer that. I'd be interested to talk to her now and kind of get her perspective now that she's had some time to heal and really kind of maybe look into it more, because was it the bad boy?
Was it, "I want to fix him?" -- The momma syndrome where you kind of want to mother them and protect them? Maybe it was a little bit of all of that. I don't know. I couldn't put a finger on it, but I found it very perplexing myself.
I was like, "What are you seeing in this guy? I don't get it. He's bad news. You know he's bad news. He's going to hurt you." But he was just so smooth and so caring when he was around her that she never got to see the true side of him and the true colors. Eventually, he was able to use that and kind of crush her.
Many viewers don't understand why she fell for him so fast, but do you actually think she fell in love with him? Could you talk about what you think made her open up to him so much quicker than she did to anyone else?
Chris Harrison: Yeah, I mean first of all, I did think she was falling for him or in love with him. It happened fast, and I don't why she fell so fast for that guy, but clearly, if we had stopped the show the moment the limos arrived, he probably would have been the one.
I don't know if you saw the first episode, but when he got out and he was like, "My name's Bentley," and you saw that face she made, I was just like, "Oh no. She didn't just fall for this guy." It almost happened that instantaneously.
I don't know if he was just the forbidden fruit that she got a taste of and it was so good, but it seemed that was the case where, "This guy's no good. This guy's no good. This guy's no good." He shows up, "Oh, I love him," you know? It was unfortunate and things only got worse. The more we warned her, the more he kind of turned on his charm. She fell for the guy hook, line and sinker.
You said Bentley leaving almost stopped production of the show, so could you talk about how you helped Ashley through that difficult time and how long it affected how she treated the rest of the guys on the show?
Chris Harrison: Yeah, I think it's fair to say that it affected her the rest of the time she was on the show. You'll see Monday night from the comedy date -- which hurt her and definitely opened a wound -- to Bentley leaving, as soon as that's over, there's another date and then deliberation and a Rose Ceremony and all that, she's a different person.
It's really interesting, and I'm not saying she was an actress or whatever, but I think to a certain degree -- I don't know if you've seen [Ali Fedotowsky] and [Jillian Harris] and [Trista Rehn] and those girls in the past -- it's like, it's almost like the entity. You're watching The Bachelorette, and it gets kind of impersonal.
Well, when you see Ashley after Bentley, you see this kind of vulnerable little girl. I walked in, and she was just crest-fallen. She was absolutely destroyed, and it wasn't, "Can I find love? And I hope to find love," it was, "I don't want to do this. I don't think it's going to work. I just lost the guy I thought I was going to be with at the end of this, and now, there's no time. This isn't going to work anymore."
So really, the next several weeks for me, wasn't worrying about, "Can she fall in love?" It was, "You don't even believe that this process can work, and that there's 12 guys here that have given up everything in their life to be here. You owe it to them to give this a shot."
So it was really just putting the pieces back together. It was rough, and I kind of have the mentality of, say you or me or anybody else has a horrible breakup and gets devastated like this, we all go find solace and a bowl of ice cream and a dozen donuts and we get to sit in our house in the dark and contemplate life for awhile.
Well, she had to go on a date the next day. (Laughs) You know, so, this was really unreal in that aspect where she was like, "How can I possibly move on and act like nothing's happened?"
So, she didn't and she couldn't, and I give a lot of credit to the guys this season who are kind of an older, more professional group -- definitely not kind of that frat house mentality -- where if it hadn't been for that group of guys, the show may have just fallen apart completely.
Are you at all worried that the backlash of Bentley's behavior won't be just against him but the show as well?
Chris Harrison: When people are upset, and our fans are, our fans are already upset and they haven't seen anything compared to what they're going to see Monday night. We're absolutely going to catch some shrapnel. I will. I'll get attacked -- Twitter, Facebook, and all that -- I'm already prepared for being absolutely attacked Tuesday morning.
"How dare you. How could you not protect her?" And all I know is, I've been in this situation before. I think we all have where at some point, you can't stop what's happening. I think if you've ever had a friend that's just been with someone you know is wrong, and the more you push and the more you yell at them, all you're going to do is lose a friend.
People have to realize that TV cameras and production aside, this is a real woman who is really falling for this guy, who is really playing her. It happens in bars, restaurants, synagogues, churches all over the world everyday. Unfortunately, this happens in front of the world on live TV for her, and so, I talked to Ashley.
She feels foolish. She hates this that she's seeing and hearing all these things, and yeah, if she had to do it all over again, she probably would have never let the guy get out of the limo, but it did happen. So, you get to see everything, warts and all. I was defensive and I hated watching it happen, but it was one of those things where there was nothing you can do about it.
Does Bentley return before the final reunion special?
Chris Harrison: You know, I'll say this. Ashley definitely has a hard time moving on past this. It definitely will continue to kind of haunt her and play a major role as we head to the finish. The only saving grace is that it did happen this early.
A couple reports have claimed Bentley's friends are blaming ABC for mis-editing Bentley's words and personality. How do you respond to that?
Chris Harrison: Well, I watched the episodes again last night, and you'll see him on-camera saying these words -- saying these full sentences. You'll see him. You'll see his face. So, it's obviously not cut and you can't splice words together when you see somebody like that.
So, you'll see him saying things that you're like, "Are you kidding me?" Honestly, you can't really take the things he said out of context, because him saying that stuff, obviously he's talking about Ashley every time he says something about her. So, the things he said -- even in joking -- are not appropriate.
He'll say things joking around, but you don't talk about women like that. You don't talk about a woman like that. You don't treat somebody like that, and I would like to hear what his friends and him have to say about the way he leaves the show and the kind of stunt, I'll say, he pulled as he's leaving.
To me, it was worse than anything that he said before. That's really -- I can't give too much away -- but that is really what I have the biggest problem with. I mean, I don't respect the things he said, I don't agree. That's not the kind of man I am.
I don't think you treat women like that, but all that aside, watch the stunt he pulls at the end and what he says, and that is really what I think is the worst as far as messing with her mind and messing with her as a person.
Bentley has mentioned a couple times how he wishedThe Bachelorette had been previous fifteenth-season The Bachelor bachelorette Emily Maynard, and the issue came up again from some of the other men afterward, so how do you think Ashley got past her fear that the men preferred Emily or fellow bachelorette Chantal O'Brien? Do you think she felt like she was competing against them all over again?
Chris Harrison: Well, definitely. I mean, her worst fear -- her biggest insecurity coming into this that first night -- was being rejected by the guys, and I think that's natural for any of The Bachelorettes.
But her, it seemed a little more prevalent, and the fact that the guys coming there not only would reject her but they wished it was somebody else, this Monday night is where the whole Bentley thing -- it was almost like two-fold.
The comedy date, where those fears were kind of touched on -- and they weren't realized but they were touched on -- it was just kind of an open wound with her insecurity and it was kind of ripped open. So, that definitely upset her. She was still kind of smarting from that when the Bentley thing happened the very next day.
She was upset and kind of emotionally vulnerable, then this bomb is dropped on her, and so it was just even more devastating than it would have been normally because of the comedy date. So really, it happened and the timing of it was horrible.
Does Ashley get past that during the season?
Chris Harrison: You know, that's really what the season becomes to a certain degree right after this. The next several weeks, we start traveling around the world, but it's really me trying to help Ashley get past this and realize that there are some phenomenal guys here. They are great guys. They are really, really great guys.
But for Ashley, and I think it will all make more sense when you see it, that this doesn't end exactly with the kind of closure you need to move on, which makes it even tougher than it should have been. That'll make sense Monday when you see what happens, but the way he kind of pulled that stunt in the end, makes it even tougher for her to kind of pick herself back up and get back out there.
Because now, it really makes her question everybody and everything. So, again, you'll see a very different Ashley from the moment this happens to the rest of the time, because now, she's like, "Well is this guy going to leave me? Am I going to fall in love?" And so, it's really hard for her to open up again.
How did the other men react to Bentley? Because it seems like no one else was really onto him in the house either.
Chris Harrison: That's a really interesting question, because unlike other "villains" or bad guys -- say [Wes Hayden] or [Justin Rego] -- the guys kind of knew Wes was a character. The guys are the ones that kind of told Jillian about Wes and warned her. It was kind of the same thing with Justin. Justin was always kind of an outsider on Ali's season.
So, this is a little different in that a.) it happened really early, so guys were just getting to know Bentley anyway and each other, so they weren't quite that privy to that information as some of the other seasons have been. So, yeah, the guys weren't ready to warn or guard and protect Ashley, because they didn't know about it.
When he leaves, the guys are just as kind of dumbstruck and surprised as Ashley is, so it really catches everybody off-guard, because he did such a good job of not showing his hand and playing everything close to the vest, that even the guys were played a little bit. I think that when the guys are watching this show back, they're going to be as shocked as Ashley is that all this happened.
How would you compare Bentley, Wes and Justin?
Chris Harrison: You know, I'm really -- I don't know, honestly, for a couple reasons -- first, I'd like to hear what the fans say Tuesday and get their opinion of where he ranks and all that. But I look at each case, and I just look at Bentley, and I really want him to come back to The Men Tell All. I really want to talk to this guy.
I can't quite figure him out, because I think it's too simple to say, "He's just the bad guy, he's evil, or he's a jerk, or whatever." That's not -- I don't think it's fair, and I don't think in my experience, that that's the whole picture. It's never that simple.
So, I want to know what his motivation is and what his thought was behind all this and what he thinks about his daughter and kind of using his daughter as a human shield at times and if someone pulled this against her, what he would think.
So, I would really love to reserve my judgment until I kind of get more information, but I know everybody will have an opinion Tuesday. I will say this, I will give what people -- premeditated -- and that's what I keep going back to.
It just seemed like everything was so well thought out and premeditated with him, and it was only to do one thing, and that was going to hurt her. That's something that I do have a big problem with. I don't know if I felt that with Justin -- well, I guess Justin had that same mentality too -- and Wes was just kind of more of a character.
Would ABC let Bentley be on Bachelor Pad if he wanted to go on the show? Is that something you guys would bar from him?
Chris Harrison: Um, I honestly don't know. I have no control over the casting, and no control over if he would be on or not. There's many reasons for that. It keeps me out of trouble -- from having to make tough decisions -- and then having to work with these people. But, I don't know. I don't know.
But I think whether we would have him on Bachelor Pad or not, a lot of that would have to do with how things play out over the next several weeks, and if he comes back and what his explanation is, and the kind of person that he is.
I don't know. I really want to find out more about this guy, and I haven't heard much from him other than I guess some -- one of the reporters just said some friends of him said he got a bad edit. But believe me, when you see Monday, there's not enough editing in the world that would have saved this guy -- good or bad.
Aside from Ashley giving Bentley the benefit of the doubt, do you think it was more of her insecurities that fed into her keeping him around as if she couldn't believe this good looking guy was into her?
Chris Harrison: I don't know. That's a good point -- as good as any, I guess. I think she just really -- for me, it seemed like what she would do with Brad, she blamed herself. She really blamed herself for being closed off and not letting herself be vulnerable or putting herself out there.
As you know, I don't know if you're married or whatever, but if you've ever been in a relationship, you know that the only way to fall in love and the only way to really go through something like that, is to let it all go and really open yourself up to be crushed.
You hope that that doesn't happen, and most of the time it doesn't, but that's really what you have to do. You have to be very vulnerable, and she came into this so bent on being different and not allowing herself to get in her own way. In that regard, I think she kind of used Bentley as a prime example of that. I don't mean publicly. I think more privately and to herself.
She was using him to prove, "By God, I am going to do this and I am going to put myself out there and this guy is there for me. This is the one and I'm going to prove that love is meant to be." All those things, I think she really fought hard in her own mind to just prove to herself, "This is how it's going to be. I'm going to let it happen." It really came back to bite her, and it really came back to hurt her. That's unfortunate.
Did the masked man, Jeff Medolla, say he was going to wear the mask when he was cast on the show or when did you find out he was going to wear that?
Chris Harrison: I found out when he got out of the limo. Again, producers are really careful not to tell me too much, because they kind of just want me to react along with Ashley. So, I was standing there when he got out of the limo and I'm like, "What?! There's a guy in a mask!"
So here's my take on Jeff, and first of all let me say, not only does the Bentley thing happen Monday, but the mask will be unveiled Monday, which is another big bomb being dropped on the show. But, here's my take on Jeff. I didn't have a huge problem with it. It wasn't my style and I don't think it was that clever, but I understood what he was pulling the first night.
When he talked to Ashley, I thought he actually -- I was like, "Oh, I get it. Okay. This is actually pretty cool, and Ashley kind of dug it. It was cute." I just think that the joke went on a little too long, and it almost took over the person he is. And it was kind of ironic that the guy that wanted Ashley to see who he really was, by the time he takes the mask off Monday, I don't think he really knows who he is.
It kind of took him over and it kind of became more of a bigger issue -- a much bigger issue than he ever wanted it to be. I don't think he intended that to happen. I think he thought he was always in control, but by the time he took it off, he was like, "Wow, this has become a little too big of a deal."
Did Ashley only see the show's footage when we saw it? When did she see all of Bentley in all of his glory?
Chris Harrison: She's seeing a lot of it play out -- I mean everything play out -- really, now with us as with every other Bachelor and Bachelorette. A.) Because there's just hours and hours and hours of tape, but they just don't see it until the show airs. That's kind of the way it's always been and the way it will always be, and that's the way it is with Ashley.
She's seeing a lot of these things. She called me last week and she was like, "I can't believe all these things. I just feel like such a fool and so played." And again, this is hindsight. Now she can look back, and she's not head over heels and have that puppy love for the guy, whereas she was kind of blinded by it. She's kind of seeing him for who he really is.
Was there ever a moment when Ashley was like, "I wish I listened to you, Chris."
Chris Harrison: Oh yeah. Are you kidding? If she'd gone back and it's funny, she's like, "Why didn't you say...?" And I was like, "Ashley, I did." And she was like, "I know." (Laughs) But that's the way it works, and if you're friends with someone, that's all you can do.
You gotta let them sometimes fall on their face, and then you give them a big hug and you pick them up and you move on. That's kind of the way it was. People have to understand that I know this is on TV and I know there's glitz and glamour and lights and all that, but they also don't understand that this is a girl.
This is just a woman that was going through and making the best decision she could at the time and going with her heart. I think to a certain degree, that's what people really relate to in the show. We've all been there.