ABC: 'The Bachelor' franchise will conduct more thorough background checks going forward
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 08/10/2018
The Bachelor franchise is going to do its very best weeding out candidates with questionable or criminal pasts going forward, according to ABC executives.
The Bachelor franchise has dealt with its fair share of controversies in recent seasons, from Lee Garrett having a history of racist comments on social media and Garrett Yrigoyen "liking" numerous offensive memes on Instagram, to -- worst of all, by far -- Lincoln Adim getting convicted of sexual assault.
Bachelor Nation has blamed producers for not thoroughly investigating each potential bachelor and bachelorette who might appear on the show, but that's apparently going to change.
"Because it all goes through Warner Horizon, the studio, I can't speak specifically about the processes, but what I can say is that after these last few events we had a big meeting that involved the network, Warner Horizon, and the producers to talk about our vetting process and how we might be more diligent than we have been," ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey toldTV Guide.
"I will say, given how many people have gone through The Bachelor and Bachelorette franchises, the small handful of issues that we've had is small on a percentage basis. But that said, we shouldn't have any. We should not be having these problems and we are committed to finding ways to increase our vetting so we are not having these problems in the future."
ABC's reality chief, Robert Mills, expressed a similar sentiment during an interview withVariety, promising background checks will be more thorough than ever to avoid similar mishaps in the future.
"I think some of the drama wasn't focused on her and furthering her relationships, and we need to look at that as we move into further seasons," Robert noted of Becca Kufrin's The Bachelorette edition.
Robert explained background checks the network conducted in recent years were as thorough as any company's check would be for a job applicant.
"It was not some sort of cursory thing. Obviously, you never ever want this situation to happen. Believe me, the list of people that we have not had on the show based on the various checks that we do is much longer than the people that are in it -- it doesn't take much to not make the show," Robert explained.
"This was just an incident that happened in a place that doesn't normally get checked in these type of background checks, and now, we will make sure that every possible sweep can be made."
As previously reported, Lincoln was arrested in May 2016 for allegedly groping and assaulting an adult female on a Boston harbor cruise ship. Lincoln plead guilty and was convicted of indecent assault and battery shortly in May 2018 before The Bachelorette season premiered.
Lincoln was sentenced to one year in prison by a judge; however, the term was suspended for a two-year probationary period. He was also expected to register as a sex offender and attend Alcoholic Anonymous meetings throughout his probation period.
However, during his sentencing the judge neglected to require Lincoln to also wear a GPS monitor during his probation period, as required by Massachusetts state law, resulting in District Attorney's office filing a subsequent motion asking the judge to impose the GPS monitoring.
Instead, the judge vacated Lincoln's guilty plea and the case is now re-processing as though the original guilty plea and sentencing had not occurred.
Warner Bros.' claimed in June that Lincoln had blatantly lied to The Bachelorette producers during the casting process about his history of sexual misconduct.
"The thing with Lincoln was something that was certainly unfortunate, but based on the very thorough background checks we've done now, we saw where that loophole was. We had a big meeting with Warner Bros. and it's something that concerns everybody and it was really upsetting to everybody," Robert told Variety.
"You want to put forward the best possible people. That doesn't mean people who have differences of opinion, but people who are certainly going to pass a background check. So we had a meeting and I think we found a way that will correct so that situation never happens again."
Garrett obviously had a controversial difference of opinion. His Instagram "likes" indicate he's an uber-conservative Republican, as he mocked immigrants, feminists, shooting survivors, the transgender community, and more.
"I think that political views are part of who we are as a person and part of all of our relationships. Certainly, a debate about political views is fine... Where Garrett was wrong was liking things that were in bad taste or disrespectful -- but there's nothing wrong if Garrett is conservative or voted for Donald Trump. Plenty of people did," Robert explained.
Despite a few mistakes in the show's track record, ABC executives are proud of their casting choices in recent years, especially since The Bachelorette, for example, has turned out a happily engaged couple four years in a row.
"I think we've gotten really good at weeding out who the people are that are there to be on TV and who are the people who really want love. It's essentially not hard to find people who are really sincere about love. Obviously, you get the people who aren't, but they make really good TV. But I think there is the sincerity factor that has been amped up," Robert explained of why the show's success rate seems to have increased over time.
"It's also helped when we have people from previous seasons be the lead because the men and women trying out for the show know who that person is and know if they would be compatible."
He continued, "And we also know them so much better so we know what they like and what they're looking for, which is really helpful. The show used to be a punchline for having just one couple stay together, but now, I think we're well into the double digits, and we're really proud of that."