'The Bachelorette' host: Brooks Forester felt regret, it's possible he could come back for Desiree Hartsock
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 08/01/2013
The Bachelorette's ninth season starring Desiree Hartsock will conclude on Monday, August 5 with a two-hour broadcast and the After the Final Rose special beginning at 8PM ET/PT on ABC.
The remaining portion of the two-part finale will begin with a crushed Desiree attempting to pick up the pieces of her journey on the show following the shocking and sudden departure of Brooks Forester, whom she admitted she had fallen madly in love with. However, Drew Kenney and Chris Siegfried are still in the picture, and both men have declared their love for and willingness to commit to Desiree.
During a Thursday conference call with reporters, The Bachelorette host Chris Harrison talked to Reality TV World about Brooks' decision to walk out on Desiree and what's to come in next week's finale, which promises to be the weirdest ending the franchise has ever seen.
Reality TV World: When Brooks was dumping Desiree, she told him in tears that she was in love with him. He seemed completely taken aback by that realization, asking her why she didn't tell him earlier as if that would've made a big difference as to how he was feeling. Do you think had Desiree admitted she was in love with him earlier it would've impacted Brooks' decision to leave? Do you think having that security and confirmation of Des' love might've changed his own feelings or ultimately his mind about walking out on her?
Chris Harrison: I don't. I really don't. I think his mind was made up. You could kind of tell his mind was made up when he went to see his parents and his family. He was literally just looking for reassurance, and then kind of the same thing when I walked in. I felt like he was -- he did a really good job of trying to be a good guy during the break-up, and that's just impossible.
Nobody -- you know, we've all been there where you have to break up with somebody or you've been broken up with, and there's nothing you can say or do that makes you look cool or makes you look good at that moment, because you're breaking someone's heart. I think he just kept trying to be a good guy, because he cares for Des.
The fact that he left the show doesn't mean he dislikes Des or hates her or whatever. He really cared about her, maybe even loved her to a certain degree, he just knew he wasn't at the point where he wanted to be with this woman. And so, I think he was really trying to be a good guy, and it only hurts more when a girl looks at you at that point and says, "I love you."
Reality TV World: After everything Des said about her love for Brooks during Monday night's episode, there's the school of thought out there that Des would be doing a disservice or it wouldn't be fair to Drew or Chris if she was to actually pick one of them in the end. What do you think about that perspective? Do you think Des could get to the point where it wouldn't look like she's settling for either man?
Chris Harrison: I mean, I absolutely understand that perspective, especially considering what we all just saw and what we've seen the last couple weeks. So I get that. But the fact there are these two other guys here, that A) have no idea, and B) are head over heels in love with her, and I guess if there's a C) to this, it's that Des needs to figure out what this means, where she is, and where she wants to go from here -- if she just wants to pack up her bags and be done with this or if she's going to continue on.
But no, I fully understand everyone's perspective, but you also kind of have to watch the rest to see how it all unfolds.
Reality TV World: Before Monday night's episode aired, Us Weekly reported that Brooks chose to quit the show but felt so strongly for Desiree that he regretted his decision "almost immediately." Could you confirm whether that was the case, and if so, how clear did he make that afterwards? And how would you guys have handled it if he suddenly wanted to change his mind and come back?
Chris Harrison: I think he did have regret. I think that you could definitely see -- and again, that's the interesting thing about Brooks, is even when I was talking to him, I think his mind was kind of made up when he talked to his parents. And then the more I talked to him, that's why I had such a difficult time getting him to articulate his feelings and tell me what he was thinking.
He was almost looking for a way out; But he was almost looking for a way to stay in. So I don't know if he was 100%. And then once Des started professing her love and telling him how she felt, you could see how broken up he was. He was emotionally crushed.
And so, as wishy-washy as he is, I think there is definitely regret there. He said as much to us after he left. So there's definitely that element that he probably did regret saying what he said and doing what he did. So, that's definitely open as well as we head into next week.
Reality TV World: Producer Mike Fleiss called the finale the "weirdest ending" ever, and you wrote in your blog that after 11 years, you managed to run into a situation you've also never seen before. Without giving the ending away, could you elaborate on that a little more?
Chris Harrison: Yeah, I mean, it's really funny. Heading into every season, I always joke with the producers, I say, "Something will happen this season that we've never faced before," and we'll laugh. We've done this so long -- it's been, what, 28-something seasons and 11 years? Surely you've kind of seen everything.
But inevitably, there is a moment on the show where you run into this situation that you just never faced. And this time, it was this deal with Brooks. It just led to a finale in the final two weeks that, as producers, we kind of weren't prepared to face. We all were kind of scrambling and trying to figure this out.
One thing I love, is that episode you saw last Monday was so different from anything we've ever had before. I was watching it, thinking, "Is this even a Bachelor episode?" It was so organic and raw, and we just really let you see everything, and I love that.
I love that our viewers and the fans of our show kind of demand that now, seeing behind the curtain and seeing really everything -- warts and all, even to the point where they're walking into the jungle and there's bad lighting and you can't really see well and our cameras are scrambling and having to run around.
Even when Des walked back on the dock, we weren't really ready for that either. One of our camera guys was literally wading out 400 yards into the water waist-deep holding a camera over his head to try and get a shot because we're not set up for that.
We just really let things go now, whereas maybe in the past, early early on, we would've said, "Okay, stop. Let's get the cameras set," and it looks a little more produced and it looks prettier. But now, we kind of just show you everything that's happening, because that's really what this show is now, and that's where our fans are.
Below are some additional highlights from Chris Harrison's call with reporters.
Do you think it's even possible, hypothetically, for Brooks to realize he's made a mistake and really does love Des and therefore wants to come back into the game, or do you think Des is in no way, shape or form willing to accept that?
Chris Harrison: Of course. I think it's absolutely possible for him to come back in the game. She cared about him. She loved him. She said as much. And you saw him in tears, you saw his look, so absolutely that's a possibility -- just because of where they both were.
We've had that situation before on a much lesser degree where, I don't know if you remember [Jillian Harris'] season, where Reid Rosenthal came back and professed his love. But Jillian wasn't really having that and she was kind of set on where she was going.
In this situation, you know our Bachelorette was there and was prepared for that. And so, she may be open to it or maybe she learned her lesson and knows that he's not the guy for her anymore. But it wouldn't shock me at all, you know, for a guy like that to come back.
You've hosted the show for a long time and have seen a lot of unexpected things play out. Where does Brooks' decision to break up with Desiree rank on your list of unexpected things?
Chris Harrison: You know, I was thinking about that the other day. I mean, when [Frank Neuschaefer] left [Ali Fedotowsky]'s season, they didn't seem to have the same weight, I guess because we all kind of knew [Roberto Martinez] was probably the top choice at that point. It was upsetting to her, but it definitely didn't have the same devastating effect that Brooks did.
And I don't know if you can compare the [Molly Malaney], [Jason Mesnick] and [Melissa Rycroft]. I heard some people bring that up -- and I think Good Morning America today did something on that -- but that really didn't make sense either, because Jason and Melissa actually were engaged and they dated for quite some time.
So, you know, I think it's kind of a one-of-a-kind situation. I can't really remember in 11 years anything happening this late in the game and being this devastating to our Bachelor or Bachelorette.
Was there a fear on your part and the producers' part that Des would actually walk out and leave the show?
Chris Harrison: Oh, absolutely. (Laughs) I knew after I left Brooks obviously what he was going to do, and the first thing I said to the producers when I walked out was, "We might be done. We might not have anything in the final episode other than the fact we have to play this out and there's still a lot of questions out there. And there still may not be much of anything next week other than her saying goodbye and having to talk to the other two guys."
But that was definitely a fear. But, you know, that's what -- it's part of the beauty of our show and part of the scariest thing of our show as far as a producer goes, is at the end, we kind of have to take our hands off the wheel. And it's really, after all this work and after all this preparation, it's really up to free will and it's up to a woman or a guy making a choice. And that's a scary thing as a producer.
No matter what show, whether it's Idol or Survivor or whatever, those kind of [competition] shows have a beginning and an end, and our show, really, at the end, is pretty wide open.
How normal is it at this point for a guy to go back to their family to talk?
Chris Harrison: Well what happened was, after the hometown dates, the guys are still in their hometowns. We don't all -- the hometown dates are spread out over a week obviously because Des has to fly out to different cities. And then the guys will stay where they are for just a little bit longer until it's time to fly into -- this time, it was Antigua -- or wherever our exotic dates are.
So we don't all travel at the same time, and so, a couple of the guys were already in Antigua and they were having their dates, and Brooks was still home. So it really just lent itself, the fact he was already there to be able to -- and our cameras were still there, and that's why we were able to capture that and set that up.
And the other thing is, you know, typically the guys know how they feel at this point. They've just seen their families and they just had that talk. Some of it's off-camera and some of it's on, but they were at the hometown and they get some time to speak with their families. So they're pretty sure about how they feel and what they're going to do.
It was just Brooks who was really confused, and he asked to kind of go back and speak to his family. We really wanted to facilitate that thinking it was really only going to lead to a positive end. We didn't think he was really looking for that reassurance to leave.
Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for more.