Chris Harrison did not exit “The Bachelor” franchise without a fight, according to a new report from Page Six.
On June 8, 2021, the veteran ABC host announced his exit from the reality TV dating franchise following the backlash he received for his defense of last season’s winner, Rachael Kirkconnell, and her 2018 involvement in an Old South antebellum-themed party, during an interview with former “Bachelorette” Rachel Lindsay.
But Harrison’s announcement came after cutthroat negotiations and alleged threats to expose the dirty secrets behind the longtime franchise, Page Six reported.
Here’s what you need to know:
Harrison Threatened ‘Bachelor’ Bosses, According to a Report
Harrison stepped away from “The Bachelor” after nearly 20 years as Matt James’ season was airing in early 2021. He did not host the “After the Final Rose” special, and he sat out the currently airing season of “The Bachelorette” starring Katie Thurston.
As others filled in for his hosting duties, Harrison was working behind the scenes — with a legal team headed by Los Angeles-based “super lawyer” Bryan Freedman, according to Page Six.
Freedman has represented high-profile celebrity clients including Mariah Carey, Vin Diesel, Octavia Spencer, Bella Thorne, Julia Roberts, and Robert Downey Jr., per his firm’s website. He also represented “The Bachelor” creator Mike Fleiss in the past.
With Freedman behind him, Harrison, who has “nearly 20 years of dirt” on the behind-the-scenes of the ABC dating franchise, threatened to expose secrets if he didn’t get a $25 million settlement, Page Six reported.
“He knows a lot about inappropriate behavior on set: fights between contestants, misbehavior including use of illegal substances while overseas and complaints from producers that were allegedly brushed under the carpet by ABC execs,” an ABC insider told the outlet of Harrison. “He was ready to tell the truth about how things really work over there — and he has plenty of evidence to back him up. Chris was making $5 million a season and wanted $25 million to go.”
“Heated” negotiations went on for weeks before Harrison was satisfied with his settlement amount, Page Six reported.
Other outlets have reported higher figures, according to Yahoo Entertainment. Deadline’s Dominic Patten called it a “mid-range eight-figure payoff and promise to keep his mouth shut,” with Yahoo reporting “that suggests the number is anywhere between $40 million and $69.9 million.” Radar reported Harrison got “a non-disclosure agreement and $40 million.”
Harrison Partially Blames a ‘Good Morning America’ Host for His Demise
An insider also told Page Six that Harrison is still salty over comments made about him by “Good Morning America” host Michael Strahan in March and that he partly blames the former “Live” co-host for his demise in Bachelor Nation.
After Harrison issued an apology for defending Kirkconnell’s behavior and said he planned to return as the host of “The Bachelor” franchise, Strahan called it a “surface response” and hinted that Harrison just issued a superficial apology because he “clearly wants to stay on this show,” per People.
“Chris was not happy with that Strahan interview and the way it went down,” an insider told Page Six. “He was not happy with Strahan’s comment at the end of the interview, that it was a ‘surface’ apology. He felt angry and that Strahan made a bad situation even worse.”
Lindsay admitted she “wasn’t expecting” Harrison to leave “The Bachelor” franchise.
“I wasn’t expecting for it to happen, not after the announcement,” she said, per People. “I think several past contestants coming forward and saying they didn’t want him to be part of Paradise. I think Katie Thurston, her very last tweet before she went to film her season was that Chris needed to step away. I think that, coupled with the interview that happened on this very stage, maybe led to him not coming back.”
There has not been a permanent replacement host announced for “The Bachelor” as it heads into its 20th anniversary year, but fill-in hosts have included Emmanuel Acho, Kaitlyn Bristowe and Tayshia Adams.
For the upcoming season of “Bachelor in Paradise,” Tituss Burgess, Lance Bass, Lil Jon and David Spade will appear as rotating hosts, according to Variety.