After announcing this spring that he would not be returning for The Bachelorette, and that David Spade would be hosting Bachelor in Paradise in his stead, ABC officially put Bachelor franchise host Chris Harrison into a limo earlier this month and sent him home for good. Now, in a new report, Variety says Harrison took with him a parting gift of “roughly $10 million — a combination of a $9 million exit settlement, plus remaining contractual fees,” and not the $25 million he allegedly sought from the network.
Harrison’s departure, having guided hopeful singles to their fate/doom since 2002, followed a disastrous Extra interview with The Bachelorette’s Rachel Lindsay, in which he defended The Bachelor contestant Rachel Kirkconnell over past racist behavior, including, among other things, attending an Antebellum plantation-themed party. Harrison’s March 4 Good Morning America sit-down with Michael Strahan subsequently added to the problem, with the GMA host left “unhappy with the substance of the interview,” despite Harrison’s repeated attempts to publicly apologize.
According to Variety, Katie Thurston’s refusal to appear with Harrison as host of her Bachelorette season compounded the situation for the network. “I hope that Chris Harrison continues to take more time to step away while sincerely educating himself and dedicating himself to the work.” Thurston tweeted at the time. “We can all grow and do better with time, and I hope he does.” In the end, the ongoing controversy over Harrison’s tone-deaf reaction ended with him receiving a rose and, more importantly, the door.
Whether his dismissal will help address the franchise’s larger issues with race, however, remains to be seen. Or as Vulture’s own Kathryn VanArendonk put it back in March, “It’s not enough to fire Chris Harrison, or to continue casting people of color on the show. The Bachelor’s real race problem is happening behind the scenes, and the only way to address the root of the problem is to overhaul the production team that creates a show like this.”