The Bachelorette fans can stop pining -- ABC has announced fourth-season runner-up Jason Mesnick will serve as the star of The Bachelor's next installment.

Mesnick's selection isn't a big surprise.
"He's on my short list," The Bachelor and The Bachelorette host Chris Harrison had admitted to during a Television Critics Association summer press tour appearance last month.  "We would be bona fide idiots not to consider him for the show."

The Bachelorette fourth-season star DeAnna Pappas accepted a marriage proposal from Jesse Csincsak instead of Mesnick during ABC's July broadcast of the show's pre-taped finale. 
However during an interview conducted the next day, the 31-year-old account executive from Kirkland, WA told Reality TV World he'd consider the opportunity to star in The Bachelor if asked.

"I haven't been approached about it at all.  If they asked me, it's something I would consider," Mesnick told Reality TV World.  "You go into a process like this and you have no idea what to expect from it -- me being this regular single dad from Seattle, you have no idea.  But you can really find somebody in a show like that.  If they look for the right people [to cast], anything is possible."

Mesnick, who divorced two years ago and has custody of his 3-year-old son Ty, also made it clear that spending time with Ty was the most important thing to him -- however Harrison subsequently made it clear he didn't envision that being an issue.

"Ty would have to take center stage," said Harrison, who also reportedly hinted that The Bachelor might even film in Seattle if Mesnick was selected.

Harrison even went as far as to offer his services as a possible babysitter.

"We have two kids," Harrison said of he and his wife.  "Ty would fit right in."

Pappas and Csincsak had also been campaigning for Mesnick's The Bachelor selection.

"Jesse and I are all about [Mesnick starring in The Bachelor]," Pappas told reporters during her own post-finale interview.  "We are going to be friends with Jason forever.  He's a great guy, he wishes the best for us, and we definitely think that he would make a wonderful Bachelor.  We'll be there all the way, threatening the girls and telling them they better treat him right."  

According to ABC, Mesnick looking for a woman who "has a real curiosity about the world, who loves life and can find passion in life's smallest moments."  In addition to serving as a "big brother" for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America, his interests also include traveling and a variety of sports, including swimming, golf, basketball and football.

Mesnick's The Bachelor edition will premiere in January 2009, according to ABC.
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ABC had originally announced The Bachelor's thirteenth season would not air as part of the network's Fall 2008 primetime programming schedule and will instead air as midseason programming back in May.  The move represents the first time since 2005 that the long-running reality dating series will not be part of ABC's fall lineup.

According to ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson, a desire to make sure the show had enough time to find the right bachelor contributed to the scheduling decision. 

"We want to make sure that we don't just have it on the schedule, announce it, and then be like, 'Oh, now we've got to find the guy,'" McPherson had explained during his own TCA summer press tour appearance.