Michael Stagliano: Holly Durst's 'Bachelor Pad' surprise was "sh-tty"
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/13/2011
Michael Stagliano and his partner Holly Durst were crowned Bachelor Pad's winning couple, beating out Michelle Money and Graham Bunn during Monday night's finale broadcast of the second season of the ABC reality competition, which featured 18 former The Bachelor bachelorettes and The Bachelorette bachelors competing for a $250,000 cash prize.
However, during the finale, Holly -- whom Michael had desperately fought to win back throughout the season because he was still in love with her and wanted to be with her again -- revealed the heart-breaking news to her ex-fiance that she recently got engaged to fellow Bachelor Pad contestant Blake Julian, whom she had formed a romance with while competing on the show despite having an unresolved relationship history with Michael.
During a Tuesday conference call with reporters, Michael, a former fifth-season The Bachelorette bachelor, talked to Reality TV World about his Bachelor Pad experience and victory -- including how close he actually came to trying to keep the cash prize all for himself, why he initially went on Bachelor Pad without the desire to rekindle his relationship with Holly, whether he had a gut feeling he would win the show, and how he really felt about Holly and Blake's surprise engagement even though he was determined to put on a good face.
Reality TV World: How close did you come -- or did you come close at all -- to picking "KEEP" and trying to get all the money? Last night's show showed you saying it was a really tough decision. Did you actually feel that way or did you just play it out a little bit for the cameras or something?
Michael Stagliano: Good question, good question. It's so bad to say this, but honestly, one of the things that I thought about in the deliberation room was yeah, really playing out both sides -- if I choose her or I choose "keep."
And one of the things I think I could have said in choosing "keep" right before I pulled it is like, "Holly, you got Blake out of this, and that's great." And then pull the thing and have been like, "You know what? I'm going to take the money out of this."
I think that the audience at least and the people watching -- I really don't think people would have been like, "He's horrible for doing that! What an a**hole!" I think that kind of would have made a lot of sense, but the bigger part of me was screaming that -- I shook Holly's hand before this, I shook her hand during it, and I shook her hand literally onstage.
We kind of talked about it as soon as we sat down and on commercial breaks that we were going to split. I made her that promise. It's really important to me to keep promises that I make, especially to people that I really care about. So, at the end of the day, that's obviously what played through.
Reality TV World: There were a few different times during the season where Holly was shown referring to a conversation you guys had before the show had started where you said you wanted to hold off on getting back together until Bachelor Pad was over. Can you talk a little bit about that and why you had not wanted to begin going down that path on the show? What were your initial concerns?
Michael Stagliano: Sure. Holly and I talked about a week before we went on the show and actually then kind of hung out the next few days at [unintelligible] and [then with] some mutual friends [where] we saw each other and it was great and it was super friendly.
And then getting there, it was kind of a quick evolution for me and the first one or two days, I really did want to keep things platonic and just be her partner and be a strong team from now until the end.
And then I just hung out with her so much and got to see her so much and laugh with her so much, and we'd have these little one-on-one conversations by ourselves kind of away from everyone that I really just started to fall for her again. So, yeah.
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I totally wanted to -- and obviously was -- falling back in love with her, but I'm sure this doesn't sound that crazy, I just didn't think that the Bachelor Pad environment with cameras around and the stuff with the games and everything going on was the best place to rekindle things. To say, "We're in a relationship!"
I was worried about the show starting to air or the show ending with me looking back and thinking like, "We started this in the bubble of the Bachelor Pad, which unfortunately isn't the real world." It's really not.
And we absolutely talked about getting back together afterwards and going to our favorite spot Kozy's in Hollywood and yeah, going on dates and bringing her to my parents' house and seeing everyone again. We really talked about those things, but I was. I was pretty adamant about waiting. I felt like that was important.
Reality TV World: When we talked to Holly earlier today, she said it seemed like things had been okay between herself, you and Blake at the end of the reunion show last week, but suggested something's happened in the last week and that's not the case now. Can you tell us anything about that?
Michael Stagliano: Sure, yeah. I mean, I don't think there's anything specific that happened. I just think that, yeah honestly, going into the finale, Holly and I were -- I was on very good terms with her and was like so excited to be up there next to her.
I gave her a big hug when I came out and I was really proud of us and really proud to be her teammate and really felt like we had a good strategy that was sitting well with everyone. So I felt great.
But you know what? I don't think there's another way to say it. It was really sh-tty what she did and what happened. I really do feel like ABC had their role in keeping that information from me, like I totally get that. But Blake and Holly both have said this sentence and what is this sentence mean?! They said, "We tried to call you."
They had 48 hours. They got engaged on Sunday and the finale filmed on Tuesday. They had maybe 36 hours, but like, I don't get what that sentence means, "I tried to call you." Like, it's 2011. If you pick up the phone and dial the number and it's my number, I'll pick it up in a second.
So, and then to take it a step further, I think just out of respect for me -- which I have certainly shown Blake and Holly, the utmost respect this entire time, especially Holly -- I think, I know, I would have gotten to the point where if the situation was reversed, I would have not gone onstage.
I would have put my foot down and said, "There's no way we're going to let this happen" -- that we're going to let him get blindsided and not find out about the engagement until he's on national television in front of a live studio audience and has the whole pressure of the game on him and then, boom! You know what I mean?
I really do feel like that was -- that was really terrible and really hurt me a lot. It made me really disappointed in Holly, so I really wish I could say it differently. I tried to handle it the best I could on the show, which was not freaking out and blowing up, because I was really upset.
But yeah, that really, really upset me and makes it really hard to be great friends with Holly and be great friends with Blake. But I really wish them well. I do. I do wish them well, but yeah. It really upsets me.
Reality TV World: We know you only found out about the engagement on the reunion show and we saw your reaction, but you had already known Holly was planning to move from LA to live with Blake. So what was your reaction when you found out she was moving?
Michael Stagliano: I found out about two weeks before we started taping [the finale last Tuesday]. So, I guess like three weeks ago now, and yeah. I actually had to ask her -- because I had heard from some of the castmates that she was moving -- I said, "Are you really moving to South Carolina?" And she said, "Yes. I'm moving in with him." And then I said, "Do you have a job out there lined up or what are you going to do?"
She said she didn't know, and then I didn't say anything. Obviously I wanted to say a lot of things, but I'm the last person in the world whose opinion matters in that scenario. So I didn't say anything and all she said after that was, "I don't know what I'm doing." She had tears in her eyes and I think I kind of made a face after she said all that, and I was like, "Ugh." And she just said, "I know. I don't know what I'm doing."
And then I didn't say anything. I just gave her a big hug and we said goodbye and it was great, honestly. When we talked, it was great. But yeah. Again, I don't know fully their relationship. I'm sure they're great and obviously very in love.
I really do hope it works out, but I think it's tough. I think she's kind of going down a tough road. She's going to remove herself from everyone she knows out here and from her job, and she doesn't have a job out there. She's moving in with him, a dude she's only known for two or three months. So, yeah. I think it just sounds tough, you know?
Reality TV World: Were you surprised you won and had you expected Michelle and Graham to take the majority of votes or did you have a feeling you were sailing to victory?
Michael Stagliano: Oh, no -- definitely not sailing to victory. Yeah, yeah. I was surprised I won! Especially with a 10-4 vote, I was sure it was going to be like a 9-5 or even closer, like an 8-6 split. We were kind of trying to go over names and who we thought we had locked in as votes and who we thought Michelle and Graham had locked in as votes.
On each side, I think we had like four people we were pretty sure were going to vote for us and three people who we were pretty sure were going to vote for Graham and Michelle. And literally, the other seven people in the game, we didn't know at all how they were going to vote. So, I was definitely not expecting to win and I was very surprised when I did.
Reality TV World: The finale showed your explanation of why you picked Graham and Michelle to go to the finale with you, but how easy of a decision was that? Did you come close to picking Kasey Kahl and Vienna Girardi instead?
Michael Stagliano: Yeah, it was kind of an evolution because again, I just love Graham and Michelle. As two people and as friends, I love them so much. They're like family and they're so supportive of me, so in that regard, it was like a no-brainer to take them. I couldn't even imagine ditching them.
But yeah, Holly and I had a lot of chances to just kind of talk alone and be away from Graham and Michelle when we had to travel back from Vegas. And then you really do start thinking about the fact that sometimes Bachelor Pad doesn't even seem like a game show. It just kind of seems like a soap opera where Michael cries all the time.
But it's a game show. It's a game, you know? So, yeah, we were thinking like, "Damnit. If we take Graham and Michelle, especially in that moment we thought that they would win, and that would be pretty sh-tty."
And again, the opposite is we thought if we kept Kasey and Vienna, that we would certainly win in that scenario. So, yeah. We really did struggle with it for awhile and it ultimately came down to -- yeah, we just voted off so many people because of the game that we really liked.
We just didn't want to do that anymore, you know? When we talked to Graham and Michelle, they were like, "You guys do whatever you want to do and we'll love you no matter what. We totally get it, and we'll be your friend no matter what." I just wanted to honor that and reciprocate that and we were like, "You guys are awesome, so let's go to the finale together."