'The Bachelorette' host: Emily Maynard's new season is very different
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/09/2012
The Bachelorette and The Bachelor host Chris Harrison watched Emily Maynard's relationship with former fifteenth-season The Bachelor star Brad Womack blossom, struggle and eventually fizzle out, as he became friends with the couple during their time on the show.
However, the single mom from Charlotte, NC opted to attempt to find love again on reality TV in the upcoming eighth edition of The Bachelorette, and Chris, could once again, come along for the ride -- observing her journey from a very supportive and hopeful perspective.
During a Wednesday conference call with reporters, Chris talked to Reality TV World about the next season of The Bachelorette, which premieres Monday, May 14, and highlighted some key details of what viewers can expect to see -- including how much of a conservative approach the show's producers allowed Emily to take throughout the season, whether Bentley Williams' return was ever a real possibility and what convinced him that Emily would pick up and move to wherever her final bachelor might reside despite her hesitancy to live with Brad in Austin, TX following their engagement.
Below is the first portion of Chris' interview. Check back with Reality TV World soon for more.
Reality TV World: Emily said in a recent interview she planned to be more reserved this season than prior Bachelorettes in that she didn't want to kiss every guy and also, for example, she was really hoping there wouldn't be any hot tubs during the season. Did she express those wishes to you guys before the season began and is that something the producers agreed to respect? Or did the hot tubs still mysteriously appear out of nowhere?
Chris Harrison: You know what? Hot tubs always mysteriously appear. That's in the contract, that we always have blow-up hot tubs on call 24/7. (Laughs) No, the season is very different. The thing about Emily too is she's not the "crazy, bungee jumping, sky diving" type of woman. She is a southern gem who likes to wear high heels and dresses.
So, we absolutely cater and accommodate who our Bachelor and Bachelorette is. That doesn't mean we don't like to take them out of their comfort zone a little bit, like in Charlotte earlier on, there's kind of a building that we scale. But it's very tame compared to things we've done before, like bungee jumping off a bridge in New Zealand, which were in seasons past.
But you know, you definitely cater to who they are. It's not like you cow down to their demands or you work it out in contract negotiations. It's nothing that formal. It's just we want her to be happy. We want this to be a beautiful season, and we want the trappings that you all know and love from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette -- these exotic dates all over the world.
But there's easy ways to make everybody happy. They'll show these beautiful cities and countries, but also make sure that Emily's happy and comfortable. But at the same time, there are some dates where she's pushed to the limit and it says a lot about her.
It also says a lot about the guy she's with -- how he handles it and how he takes care of her and if he takes care of her. So, I hope that somewhat answers the question.
Reality TV World: There had been a lot of talk about the show filming in Emily's hometown of North Carolina due to her daughter Ricki but based on the info ABC released last week, it seems like you spent the initial cocktail ceremony and first few dates there but then began traveling afterwards. So what happened there? Did that end up not being as much of a concern for Emily as it had originally been?
Chris Harrison: No, I mean she always had the plan. Usually what we do -- and again, it changes depending on who the Bachelor or the Bachelorette is. I kind of love the organic way the show has changed depending on who our person is, and we usually start the first three or four weeks in Los Angeles.
We use The Bachelor [mansion], which we've used for years and years. But with Emily, part of the thing was, she has Ricki. She didn't want to take Ricki out of school and wanted to continue her life. So not only did we start the show in Charlotte, but you'll see that we kept Emily in her home with Ricki, and she continued her daily life of taking her to school and soccer practice.
She didn't have to jump out of her world to start the show for the first month or so, and that was huge. She knew we would still travel. And then Ricki would come along with us from time to time.
What people don't understand is, I know you see the Bachelors and the Bachelorettes, but we also behind the scenes have this incredible traveling family. It's like a circus. We've all had kids and our kids will travel with us from time to time.
My kids travel with me and other producers and camera operators. So there's lots of families and wives on the road with us, and we all take care of each other. We all know each others' kids and Ricki became part of the family. She jumps around and plays with my kids from time to time, so it's been fun having her with us when she's on the road.
Reality TV World: Before the season began, there had been talk out there about the possibility of Bentley Williams coming back on the show. And I think you had even commented on how you'd only let him compete on The Bachelorette if he sincerely convinced you he wanted to go on for the right reasons. So was Bentley interested and was he actually considered, and if so, did you guys decide he was trying to get on the show for the wrong reasons or what happened there?
Chris Harrison: It was definitely discussed and I know our producers have gone through this because it was such an obvious storyline. But to me, it just felt like such low-hanging fruit -- not that we are opposed to drama, twists and turns, of course you get them as you do every season -- but to me, I don't know if we ever talked to him. I don't know how far it got. I really don't.
I just know that if he had come back, if he had wanted to come back -- which I don't even know if he did -- but he had to have really done a 180 and really shown that he was sincere, because the whole point of this show was not to pull a fast one on Emily, and to do that the first night, especially if he comes back -- or whenever, any night, if he had shown up -- it would've been about that joke and that surprise and pulling a fast one on her.
And that's not at all how this season goes, and it's not the tone of this season at all. She is vulnerable and she had her insecurities, and to mess with her just to be messing with her, I think would've been pretty uncool of us.
Reality TV World: I've seen The Bachelorette premiere already, and Kalon obviously arrives in a helicopter -- which seems a further step up from Lindzi Cox's arrival on a horse during Ben Flajnik's The Bachelor season. So how did Kalon's entrance come about -- did the show arrange and pay for that or was that all something he did on his own -- and is there any limit at this point as to what type of entrance the show is willing to let contestants make or is there no line anymore?
Chris Harrison: Yeah, I don't think there is a line. I think these guys will just come up with an idea and say, "Hey, you mind if I skydive into night one?" -- which, that's a great idea by the way. We haven't done that. I don't know how the helicopter was procured. I know Lindzi, that was her friend and her horse. And obviously now that you've seen Lindzi, you know that that meant a lot to her.
I don't know to Kalon what that meant or how he pulled it off, but he did, and it definitely caused a stir on Night 1. There were a few good entries! Jef, I remember, came in kind of Back to the Future-style on a skateboard, which was kind of cool.
And then we had the helicopter, and so for Emily, these guys definitely had to raise the bar a little bit in trying to get her attention, because there's 25 pretty fantastic, successful, good looking guys in that room. And so, they were all kind of clamoring to make a difference, and the helicopter was definitely different.
Reality TV World: The premiere also shows Emily telling Kalon she was impressed by his entrance. Do you think the decision Kalon made could've gone either way in that Emily could've been impressed or put off by a showy entrance like that? And while it did apparently impress Emily, do you think there may be a significant downside of making him a target to the rest of the bachelors?
Chris Harrison: Yeah, you'll have to ask Emily just how impressed she was. Here's one thing about Emily that you will quickly learn when you watch the show, is that she's very sweet, very southern, and she will sometimes tell you [something] and be very courteous and nice -- but it's not exactly how she feels deep down inside.
So, I don't know if she loved him making that big of a deal of himself and standing out like that. And then the other guys, definitely that put a target on his back, immediately. You walk in and you show everybody up like that, I mean, of course it's going to put a target on your back.
Reality TV World: Emily has said she's willing to move wherever the guy she picks lives. However, some viewers are a little skeptical of that because she never picked up and moved to Austin to be with Brad even though he had always been clear he'd expected that of his final bachelorette. What are your thoughts about that -- why do you think it'll be different this time around?
Chris Harrison: Well I mean, the situation with Brad was different. You have to take it in and of itself. She just wasn't -- she was fully prepared to move to Austin and would've loved to move to Austin, and obviously that was on her mind, but their relationship never got there. It's a big step for her because it's not just Emily up and moving.
It's Emily and it's Ricki and it's her life, and pulling Ricki out of school and [away from] her friends and all that. And so, Emily doesn't just get to make choices for herself anymore. While that was definitely in consideration for Brad, it was a completely different situation than what she'll face here, however this turns out.
This will be another decision she has to make and I hope she has to make it. Hopefully we get this incredible ending and she falls in love and they either move to Charlotte or move wherever.
Reality TV World: A lot of people are skeptical that a racecar driver just happened to apply. How did Arie end up on the show? Did he really apply on his own or did the show go out and deliberately try and recruit a racecar driver?
Chris Harrison: I don't think -- I don't know how Arie ended up coming to the show. I don't know if he applied or friends applied for him. I don't know. I never get that deep into how these guys end up on the show.
I had to explain earlier, you know, what Arie does -- well first of all, he doesn't really race anymore but he was an Indy car driver -- and open wheel, that's not even the same sport even close to NASCAR and the world that Emily was in.
But the other thing is, it's still something that she holds near and dear to her heart, and racing in general is something that she actually loves and still keeps up with. But if you talk to Arie, which I have, he knows nothing about NASCAR. It's a very different world, completely, and he comes from a very different world.
Above is the first portion of Chris' interview. Check back with Reality TV World soon for more.