When The Bachelorette was set to start filming in March of last year, the coronavirus shut down life in and out of Bachelor Nation. While the season eventually aired, safety regulations and production delays knocked Bachelor in Paradise off the summer lineup. Now that Matt James’ season of The Bachelor has returned the franchise to its typical schedule, ABC Executive Robert Mills is sharing his confidence a return to Paradise is imminent.
“We are hell-bent on figuring out how we make Paradise work,” Mills told Variety. “Unless something horrendous happens, I feel very confident that Paradise is coming back on this summer — how and where it’s going to be, it’s still too early to tell.”
Here is what he shared:
While ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ Was Missed, It Took a ‘Herculean Effort’ to Film ‘the Bachelorette’
“Ten months ago, the first thing that was important to us was to get Bachelorette done, and that was a monumental effort — I cannot give production enough credit; it was a Herculean effort,” said Mills.
Now that it and a season of The Bachelor have been completed, the focus is now being shifted to Bachelor in Paradise.
He continued, “We take a lot of pride in how much this show means to people. This show really gives people comfort and hope. Even something as silly as Bachelor In Paradise, it really means a lot to people, and we know that, so we will do what we can to get it done.”
The Filming Location Has Not Been Decided
While Bachelor in Paradise typically films in Mexico, travel restrictions and new safety protocols may alter its setting.
“Everything is day-to-day,” revealed Mills. “Right now, unfortunately, we’re at a place, especially in Los Angeles, where all the productions are getting shut down — you know, [Jimmy] Kimmel is back doing his show from home.”
However, there is now a COVID-19 vaccination which could potentially impact filming.
“We could have a massive rollout of vaccinations and that would make it easier to travel and shoot places,” hypothesized Mills, saying they are also looking into different filming options. He added, “Obviously, we don’t want producers and cast members to be getting vaccinated early just for the show, but if people can get vaccinated, then maybe we’re back in Mexico.”
As occurred with the last season of The Bachelorette and the current season of The Bachelor, if Mexico remains off-the-table, filming may need to occur in a quarantined bubble entirely at a resort.
“If there is some different type of way we have to do it, we want to do it,” he told the publication. “As wonderful as it is being in Mexico with that type of setting, it really is about people we have come to love — or love to hate — finding a second chance at love.”
With so Many New Contestants, This Upcoming Season Could Be ‘Super-Sized’
During a recent episode of The Viall Files, Mills told former Bachelor Nick Viall that this upcoming season of Paradise could be “super-sized.” He reiterated this point while speaking with Variety.
“The biggest problem we’re going to have is that we have probably about 150 potential people we can have in the cast between the four seasons that haven’t been able to be on Paradise, and then other people who have been on previous seasons,” he explained. “How do you make that into 15-18 cast members? It’s going to be really tough.”
Mills said it is too early to ask castmates yet while they still sort out the details.
“The silent producer on the show is the audience so we’ll see on Twitter who people say they want to see,” Mills said of the casting process, noting they also look to castmembers who didn’t get the screen time they deserved. He added, “Sometimes the pond is really dry — this season will be the opposite case. The pond is overstocked.”
Still, they have some people in mind, such as Ben Smith. He said, “I can see him being one of the massive success of Bachelor in Paradise, like he will meet his wife there. If Ben would do us the privilege of being on Paradise it would be fantastic.”
Another man who would be guaranteed a slot if he wanted it, former Bachelor Peter Weber. “At the very least, I just want Peter to come [by] on a seaplane,” Mills told Viall. “Even if he just does a fly by and leaves.”
Mills did not mention if anyone from Listen to Your Heart would appear on the show.
While the details are still being sorted out, Mills insists he is confident the beach-based spinoff of the franchise will return this year.