Chris Harrison: Casey Shteamer failed to plead her case to stay
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 02/09/2012
Having past its halfway point, The Bachelor's sixteenth season has already been filled with drama and surprises ranging from the aggressive behavior of controversial bachelorette Courtney Robertson to the seemingly random return and elimination of former fifteenth-season The Bachelor bachelorette Shawntel Newton.
The Bachelor's host Chris Harrison has not only been along for the ride but has felt the need to intercede at times, especially when he heard information that bachelorette Casey Shteamer was allegedly still dating and in love with a boyfriend from home while competing on the show to win Bachelor Ben Flajnik's heart.
During a Thursday conference call with reporters, Chris talked to Reality TV World about the season's most dramatic moments thus far and the ones still to come -- including whether he felt it was truly unusual for a bachelorette, like Casey S., to not be completely over an ex-boyfriend at home when deciding to appear on the show and why that situation was enough to justify her elimination, and why he believed Casey's ex-boyfriend was telling the truth along with the other sources who had contacted him.
Below is the first half of Chris' interview. Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for the second portion.
Reality TV World: You said in your blog this week it was right for Casey to go home and that it was irrelevant whether or not she was in love with her ex-boyfriend because she wasn't in the right state of mind to find love with Ben. But did you really think it was that unusual of a case for a girl on The Bachelor to have an ex back home who she isn't completely over yet, and if so, will that be some kind of new casting requirement for future seasons? Because historically, it doesn't seem like it's been that uncommon for someone to not be completely over an ex and go on the show -- for example, Jenni Croft had made it all the way to the end with Brad Womack but then ended up getting picked up by her ex-boyfriend at the airport when she got home and immediately reuniting with him.
Chris Harrison: Yeah, well I mean, look at Melissa Rycroft who literally for a time was engaged to [Jason Mesnick] but went back home and her old boyfriend realized what a idiot he was and realized he let the best thing in his life go away, and now they're married and have a child. So, I know. It's definitely not uncommon.
We all have a past and all these people bring their own baggage to the show, which is what makes our seasons so different every time we go about it. But it really is a case-by-case basis. Anyone who comes on our show is going to have a past boyfriend or girlfriend, but this particular one, we felt was serious enough right up until she left for the show.
And what we had heard from several people was that they very much were in love and still in love, and she had said some things along the way that we had heard and that led us to believe she still had feelings for this guy, so much so that there's no way that she was there for Ben or that it was going to work with Ben.
But again, it all went to -- it wasn't a [situation] where I came in as judge and jury and said, "You're out of here." I gave her the opportunity to plead her case and tell me, "Do you still like this guy? Are you still in love? Are you here for Ben?" And at the end of the conversation, she wasn't and it really was up to her.
If she convinced me that, "Hey, I love Ben and I want a shot at this and I don't care about my old boyfriend." And that's fine. We would have moved on.
Reality TV World: What made you so certain that Casey's boyfriend was telling the truth about how he and Casey were still a couple when he had contacted you? How were you so sure he wasn't just a disgruntled ex-boyfriend trying to stir up trouble for Casey?
Chris Harrison: Well without going into too much detail about who we talked to and how we heard, it wasn't just him. He was the tip of the iceberg and then we heard from several other people as well -- sources that we believed in.
They all kind of painted this picture that led us to -- and again, this happened over several weeks, where we had heard something and then she made a comment or two that we had heard, and then we heard from a couple of other people back in the States -- think that, "Okay, then there might be something to this."
It's funny though, because our producers were almost like, "We have to do detective work and background checks as we're going through the show," and we're constantly trying to cover our bases. And so again, all the information did was lead me to have a conversation with her. It wasn't one of those situations where, "Casey, get your stuff and get out. We know what you're up to."
All it did was give me enough pause to say, "Casey, let's have this conversation," and in that conversation, I could tell right away she wasn't over this guy and that she was a mess emotionally. I know -- I respect why she came on the show to get over this guy, and I understand why she did it, but it didn't work for her and it wasn't working.
She wasn't there for Ben, you know? As much as I would love to use this show as an emotional rehab for people to kind of move on, that wasn't going to work and it wasn't working for her.
Reality TV World: I know you said you don't want to reveal too many details about the other people who had contacted you, but could you talk a little bit about whether they were friends with her ex-boyfriend Michael or Casey's?
Chris Harrison: Yeah, they were mutual friends. They were mutual friends of both of theirs.
Also during the call, Chris told reporters how he determines which situations during The Bachelor are okay to address his concerns and which scenarios he should leave alone and let play out, whether he felt Ben handled the situation with Casey S. well, and how his history with Bentley Williams and Ashley Hebert has affected how he will react to potentially serious drama for The Bachelor's current and upcoming editions.
Could you talk about your decision to pay a surprise visit to the bachelorettes and talk to Casey S. and how much of a role Bentley and his relationship with Ashley played in that?
Chris Harrison: Yes. I'd love to pounce on that a little bit because I've heard this week, "Why did you do it if you didn't do that for Bentley or [Wes Hayden]?" And that's really the reason why we did it and why I did, because of those situations.
I thought with Bentley, and I've said this several times before, that I should have gone a little further and I regret not going a little bit further and telling her even more. Yes, I warned Ashley and yes, we talked to her, but I think I could have gone a little bit further in protecting her.
The Casey S. situation was completely different than the Bentley. I don't think she came on [the show] to deceive. I don't think she had any alterior motives. In fact, her motives were actually quite innocent. She was just trying to move on from this guy whom she didn't want to end up with. But at the same time, it was definitely worth going in and talking to her.
It seems like Courtney is manipulating Ben this season, so where do you draw the line? How do you determine which situations are appropriate to jump into?
Chris Harrison: That's another great point. Someone asked me about Courtney as well, and that is a completely and utterly different situation. That is Ben making his own decisions. I mean, Ben -- say Bentley was there for the wrong reasons. Casey S., we had information as far as her background with a boyfriend or whatever.
And Courtney, if I find out that Courtney has a boyfriend or she's married or whatever, then I would absolutely bring that to Ben's attention. But Ben is dating Courtney just like he's dating [Lindzi Cox] and [Kacie Boguskie] and everybody else.
And so, yes I can give my opinion and I can say, "What do you see in this girl?" But as far as that goes, it's never been my position or job to go in and say, "Really? You like Kacie B. -- that Tennessee accent?"
What he's going through with Courtney is dating and if he chooses to date this girl, then that's up to him. I think it's a completely different situation and I know the way you phrased it is that she's "playing him," but you know, that's kind of in the eye of the beholder if she's playing him or not and we'll see.
And again, that's one of the beauties of this show -- is this guy has to choose, "Okay, this model is beautiful. Is she here for me or is she here just playing the game?" And is he going to get sucked in to just going for this beautiful model or is he going to try to go deeper and find if she's real? So again, that's part of the beauty of the show -- is they have to figure that out, just like you do in real life.
Do you think Ben handled the situation with Casey S. well or should he have been a bit warmer and nicer to her?
Chris Harrison: In hindsight, I honestly haven't talked to him about that particular situation. I've seen him several times since the show started airing, but my guess knowing him, is he will have a little regret in how he handled that. You have to give him a little bit of leeway and that's why -- and I do, because I know. That situation was literally thrust upon him.
We showed up, knocked on his door out of nowhere, and he's hit with this information. Had he had a chance to maybe go back and watch it again and rewind, he would probably be a little bit more affectionate and a little bit more giving to her. When she started crying, put a hand on her -- say you're sorry, you know what I mean?
I think he was a little offended and taken aback and kind of took it as an affront to him, and I don't think he quite heard everything she was saying and how sincere she was. So, I think he just kind of took it as, "You have a boyfriend and you're here?" But that wasn't the story.
And so again, I think if he had a chance to go back and really listen to it again and go through that situation, but literally, we knocked on his door and walked in. I think he kind of just did the best he could.
What do you think about Courtney asking Ben to visit her room? Would it have been acceptable for Ben to go if he chose to? How much freedom did he have?
Chris Harrison: Well, I mean, there's not a ton of freedom to go to their room because they all live together. But there is freedom for the women from time to time to sneak out and go to his room. I talked to him the day after the skinny dipping incident in Puerto Rico and he was blown away. He was like, "You're not going to believe this."
I think later, he might have said, "Oh I regret a little bit in going too far -- not being fair to the other women and maybe kind of closing myself off to them and giving one woman too much too soon as far as time and affection and all that."
So, but, he's also a very passionate and impulsive guy. I mean, obviously. And if a woman shows up on his doorstep and says, "Hey, do you want a night cap?" Yeah, he's probably going to let them in.
As the host of the show, you tend to get put in the middle of wanting to keep the drama going but also keeping the contestants on the show, who often end up becoming your friends, and their best interests in mind. Since you mainly refrained from telling Ashley about Bentley during her The Bachelorette season, did you feel pressure to act more quickly on the Casey situation to avoid looking like the bad guy again?
Chris Harrison: You know, what happened was -- because you're right. I wear a lot of hats in my job. It really is unlike any other hosting gig on any show I've ever seen, because you are the host sometimes and a lot of times, you are Ben and Ashley's confidant and best friend and you're kind of their eyes and ears -- but not so much that you're going to ruin the situation.
So there's obviously this interesting gray line and this gray area that I have to walk around sometimes. But I want to clear something up too with Casey S. People made it seem like, "How dare you just go in and kick her off the show." Well that's not at all how it went down -- at all. And if you kind of watch it, and again, you saw somewhat of an edited version, it was a very amicable non-confrontational conversation.
And if Casey S. had said to me, "Chris, you're wrong. I am head over heels in love with Ben. I don't know what you heard and yes, I was with this guy Michael before the show, but right now, this is it man. I love this guy and I'm not giving up my chance to fall in love!" Then "case closed" and she would have been on the show and we would have never even talked to Ben.
She absolutely had her half of that conversation and her half led me, and everybody else, to understand exactly what she said. And that was, "Yeah, I'm not over this guy. I'm not over Michael, my old boyfriend. You're right."
And in that situation, obviously, it's not a bad thing, but she definitely can't fall in love with Ben and she's definitely not going to marry Ben in that circumstance. But she absolutely -- people made it seem like it was this one-sided ambush. That's not the way it was.
She absolutely could have easily convinced me that, "No. I'm here for the right reasons," and then no harm done and we move onto the Rose Ceremony.
Do you feel you must react quicker or definitely react in general because of how viewers viewed you after the Bentley situation?
Chris Harrison: It's not quicker. You definitely -- we'll definitely let things play out a little bit to see where they're going and to let the audience see where they're going, but the other thing, is that it's really acting more thoroughly and really just showing the audience more.
I think that the Bentley, the [Rozlyn Papa] situation -- all these situations -- I learn and we learn as a show just as much as anybody else in any other business. I've learned my lessons with Bentley, with Rozlyn, to be more open and more honest and get it all out there.
As benign a situation as it was with Casey, I went very far into making it very clear what the situation was. And she was a little confused and kind of -- it was a big self-realization on her part, but I wasn't going to leave that conversation with any sort of gray area. It was very cut and dry.
You either love Ben or you are in this to fall in love with Ben or you're not, and I think with situations in the past, I've kind of left that gray area open to interpretation -- thinking we all had an understanding and then six weeks down the road, they come back with their own version of history. And so, now I'm very clear and very thorough with my conversations and I will get it out there one way or another.
(Photo credit ABC)
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