'Bachelor' host: We didn't plan the NASCAR date for Emily Maynard
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 01/27/2011
The Bachelor host Chris Harrison has clarified his prior comments which suggested the show's producers intentionally sent bachelorette Emily Maynard on a NASCAR-themed group date with Brad Womack to force her to confront the tragic death of her former fiance and NASCAR driver Ricky Hendrick.
Earlier this week, Harrison had told tvguide.com the show's producers used the date -- which will air on next Monday's episode and was teased at the conclusion of this week's The Bachelorbroadcast -- to "force the issue" and put Womack and Maynard "on the spot" because the show's format has "such a time constraint."
However The Bachelor host says he was only describing the eight-on-one group date in "hindsight" and the show did not originally plan the date with Maynard, who learned she was pregnant with Hendrick's daughter days after he was killed in a 2004 plane crash, in mind.
"I have the luxury of hindsight, in that what I was [saying] is it allowed in this very time-constrained environment, to force a moment and it did force a moment. It was something intentionally that we didn't set out to do in the beginning of the season, but it ended up that we had this opportunity and Brad and Emily had this opportunity," Harrison told Reality TV World during a Thursday conference call with reporters.
"It was somewhat of a coincidence, but again, I don't want to come off -- and you guys are smart enough, and so are our fans -- to realize that we are not stupid and naive little children [who were] like, 'Oh really?'"
"We knew her story. We didn't know it before the date was set up and it kind of happenstance worked out where she ended up on that date, but obviously we're not naive and stupid, we knew the story and it was our choice to let it play out. Because we could have told Brad or we could have pulled her aside and told her."
Harrison added that logistically, the producers believed the group date was the only date Maynard could go on during next week's The Bachelor episode because she had already been on one of the season's prior one-on-one dates with Womack and the pair's already obviously close relationship would have eliminated any suspense about whether she would have survived the episode's remaining two-on-one elimination date.
In addition, leaving the southern sweetheart out of all three dates would have forced Womack to go two weeks without a date with Maynard since she was already left out of all three dates on this week's The Bachelor episode.
"As producers, you want that date to be compelling and it's really important that, as a viewer, you feel like either girl has a real opportunity of going home. Because obviously if Emily, who he has a great connection with -- or even a [Chantal O'Brien], who he has a great connection with -- if she's on the two-on-one date, right away you're going to be like, 'Well, he likes her. You know she's probably not going to go home this week.' It just makes it seem obvious," Harrison told reporters.
While many viewers have expressed criticism of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway date after seeing it teased on Monday night's The Bachelor broadcast, Harrison suggested it was a success and urged viewers to watch next week's broadcast before condemning the show's handling of the situation.
"It really did force the issue -- it forced Emily to face some demons that, even after five years, I don't think she's quite dealt with yet. And it also forced Brad to learn the rest of the story, because again, when he goes on this date and knows Emily's fiance passed away, he still didn't know the whole story [about how and who he was]. So it kind of forced a lot of issues on many, many different levels. It's unbelievably compelling and intriguing, and people again, I want you to watch it. There will be much more to talk about next Tuesday morning," he told Reality TV World.
"I will stand by the fact that it did -- in a time-constrained environment and process -- it really forced them to take a huge step and it was either going to blow up in their face and Brad's going to realize, 'I can't handle this, I can't replace this guy,' or Emily [was going] to realize she's not quite ready, or they're going to move through it. So it is very compelling."
In addition, Harrison also defended the fact that Maynard's earlier one-on-one date with Womack put the 24-year-old children's hospital event planner from Charlotte, NC in the uncomfortable position of traveling on a small plane that invoked memories of the one which took her fiance's life.
"That's something where she's going to get on a plane. I mean we are going to, as you guys know, continue to travel around the world. I mean, the fact that she was on a private plane... if she continues on, she's going to be on 12 more flights with Brad," Harrison told Reality TV World.
"I mean, there are certain things we just can't hide from on this show, and where we're going. You can't take a bus and you can't drive... so short of getting a submarine, we have to put this girl on a plane, and she's already flown. But again, I think it was being in the relationship forum with that situation that is bringing up these issues, that again, she had to deal with. If she's going to get through this, she has to deal with these things."