Chris Harrison gone as Bachelor host for good after racism controversy


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Chris Harrison and Matt James

Former bachelor Chris Harrison (right) pictured with recent series leader Matt James is leaving the franchise.


ABC

After temporarily stepping aside as a long-time host of ABC’s popular Bachelor franchise earlier this year, Chris Harrison officially left the rose-studded reality TV gig for good.

“I’ve had a really incredible run hosting The Bachelor franchise and now I’m excited to start a new chapter,” Harrison posted on Instagram on Tuesday. “I’m so grateful to Bachelor Nation for all the memories we’ve made together. As my two-decade journey comes to an end, the friendships I’ve made will last a lifetime.”

Harrison’s announcement comes the day after the season 17 premiere of The Bachelorette, where Harrison was noticeably absent from the position he’d held since 2002. Instead, show alums and co-hosts Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe guide Katie Thurston as she navigates romance, reality TV style.

“You are truly irreplaceable as a presenter, thank you for all the years you have put into this show and made it what it is,” Bristowe wrote in the comment section of Harrison’s Instagram post. “No one does it like Mr. Chris Harrison.”

Why isn’t Chris Harrison coming back?

In February, Harrison stepped down from hosting The Bachelor and spin-off shows “for a period of time,” while criticisms of his comments about photos that Rachel Kirkconnell, a contestant on season 25 of The Bachelor, who attended an antebellum plantation-themed party while in college. That season’s star Matt James was The Bachelor’s first black lead, citing the Cumming, Georgia graphic designer as his top pick at the end of the show.

Former Bachelorette star and current TV host Rachel Lindsay brought up the photos during an Extra interview, and Harrison’s reaction didn’t sit well with many. Harrison said that while he did not defend the rally, people would not have viewed an Old South party “under the same lens” in 2018 as they did in 2021, given the heightened awareness of racial inequality amid the Black Lives Matter Movement. Lindsay, an outspoken advocate for diversity in the franchise, disagreed.

The photos evoked a painful period in American history before the Civil War ended slavery, and sparked serious, in-depth discussions among Bachelor fans and former contestants about race, representation, and responsibility. Loyal Harrison supporters stood with him, and some criticized the “police awakened” and “cancellation culture”. Still, at the height of the controversy, a petition called for the removal of Harrison from hosting The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and spin-off shows, and trended the #FireChrisHarrison hashtag. Harrison offered several public apologies for his words, and Kirkconnell publicly vowed to educate himself on issues such as race and racism.

Here is the full overview about events leading up to Harrison’s final departure.

Did Chris Harrison get a payout?

Last week’s news that comedian David Spade and others will rotate as guest hosts from Bachelor in Paradise this summer led many to suspect that Harrison would soon be leaving the franchise for good.

Before Harrison’s comments on Tuesday made the split official, Deadline posted an exclusive story about the pending announcement. It reported that there had been much negotiation behind the scenes and that Harrison’s departure would come “in the form of an average eight-figure payout and [a] promise to keep his mouth shut.”

“The usual platitudes are expected to be exchanged for public consumption when the deal is made public later in the day, but there is certainly no romance in the air behind the scenes,” Deadline said.

Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment did not disclose details of a deal, but said in a joint statement Tuesday that “we are grateful for his many contributions over the past 20 years and wish him all the best on his new journey.”

How does Bachelor Nation react to the news?

Like Bristowe, other franchise alumni are sharing words of support for Harrison following the news.

“It will never be the same. Truly the end of an era,” wrote Ashley Iaconetti Haibon, a former contestant on The Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise and a high-profile alum of the franchise. Wrote former Bachelor Jason Mesnick, “The general public has no idea how much you have helped us cast members deal with the behind the scenes of the TV world.”

Another former Bachelor lead, Arie Luyendyk Jr., had this to say, “I love you, brother. On to bigger and better things.”

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