Bachelor Host Chris Harrison: “BS” in Tabloids Hurt Brad and Emily, but They Are Still Together
Wow. Rosemaster Chris Harrison unleashed his Protective Papa side during the media conference call after The Bachelor Season 15 finale.
The Bachelor and his Chosen One typically do the post-finale conference call, but Chris chatted with the press instead — and proceeded to lambaste the tabloids for running stories he believes hurt Brad Womack’s fledgling relationship with Emily Maynard.
He assured everyone that the couple has not broken up, despite a new PopEater report to the contrary, and revealed that they are now in Austin, Texas, trying to work on their relationship away from the public eye and the press.
Chris was open about Brad and Emily’s issues with the media: He leveled some thinly veiled criticism at Us Weekly, and he also called the new break-up report “BS.” “There’s gotta be some line that can be drawn,” he said.
He touched on Brad and Emily’s other relationship difficulties as well, acknowledging that they’re both stubborn and occasionally butt heads. But right now, he said, “it’s them against the world.” In Chris’s opinion, being a unified team on the same side will help them stay together.
Read on for much more from the Rosemaster on the final couple; Chantal O’Brien, who spoke to reporters right after him; production details during the show; and his thoughts on Ashley Hebert as the new Bachelorette.
Was there a reason that the final rose was not presented during the finale?
Chris Harrison: It’s so funny, that’s been the most talked about thing this morning and it was total producer lapse. We absolutely shot it and it happened — we’re probably going to put it on ABC.com — but it’s funny, I talked to the execs last night from ABC, and the producers and I said, “Why did we leave that off, it was the first time?” and our executive producer Martin Hilton just didn’t think it would be that big a deal, honestly, and didn’t know it would stir everybody up the way it did. We had the proposal and all that, and we moved on to the “After the Final Rose” special and didn’t realize it would cause such a stir. But it did take place, and it did show [the final rose], and I think our fans have taught us a good lesson.
During the hometown visit, we didn’t meet Ricki’s grandparents. Was that a choice they made or was she getting pressure from the Hendricks family to stay in her hometown and not move to Austin?
Who she chose to show and have on the show was her decision. I don’t know nor would I ever get into her relationship with the Hendricks family. From what I understand it’s good, that’s all I know of it. But who she introduced us to is always up to her, what they do on their hometown [date] is up to them. I don’t think she’s against moving to Austin. I’m a parent so I very much understand her line of thinking and where she’s coming from, and I really respect it. At this point, your life is not you own anymore. Your decisions aren’t your own. You no longer get to live this selfish life, and Emily knows that and that’s one thing she was trying to explain to Brad — that you don’t just get to do what you want anymore. And as much as Brad loved the idea of becoming a parent, I think she’s very careful and protective of her daughter and that makes me like her a lot more, and it makes Brad love her that much more. I think she’s decided to take it slow in honor of Ricki.
During “After the Final Rose” taping, were you surprised by the problems that Brad and Emily were having and that they had broken up already?
No, well first of all, they’re not broken up.
They did in the past and got back together.
It was several weeks after we shot in South Africa; it was really when the show started airing that it became a big problem. And part of that was self-admittedly Emily’s insecurity of watching Brad on the show, and watching him with Chantal in particular, and obviously that’s something you can talk to her about in a little bit. Because what Brad and her shared was real and it was tough for her to watch that. And maybe in hindsight she wouldn’t watch the show again. But, you know, part of the problem with them was A) going through just a normal relationship, B) having to deal with watching the show, and — no offense to you — but the bulls--t that was printed in the tabloids. And that’s tough to deal with. When you have magazines throwing money left and right, paying ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends and printing just garbage to try and save a failing magazine, then that’s tough to deal with. I feel bad for them. And some of the things that were said went way beyond the line of decency. And it’s not that they didn’t sign up for this. They opened their lives up and they know that and I know that, but there was a line of decency that was definitely crossed with them, and so I think that’s probably the reason they’ve decided, “Screw everybody, we’re not doing press today, we’re going to go back to Austin and live our lives and be happy.”
On a lighter note, are you happy with the decision that Ashley H. will be the new Bachelorette?
Absolutely. I love it. I thinks she’s going to do great. She’s a spitfire, man. If you get to know her — which you will — she has this great charisma and charm that just puts everybody at ease. She’s a professional woman, which I also love, ‘cause I don’t think — I was trying to think back — we really haven’t had a true professional woman as our Bachelorette before. Somebody whose career is so important to them and they’re so good at it, you know, being a dentist and all that. So I’m really excited at the prospect of her coming in. I think she’s got that great likability that the guys will enjoy, but she also at the same time — as you saw with Brad — has her vulnerabilities, her regret, and some things that she’s dealing with as well. So it’s going to be a great season.
Were you surprised that Brad chose Emily in the end?
I wasn’t at all. I wasn’t surprised at who the final two were, I wasn’t surprised at Emily ending up with the final rose — well, she should’ve ended up with the final rose if we’d shown it. From the moment she got out of the limo, Brad took a liking to Emily. They just had something that was a little different. And it’s not to say, with Brad — if you ask him, from the moment she got out of the limo, she was the only one. Which, if I’m engaged to a girl, I would tell my wife the same thing so I didn’t get in trouble. But what he had with some of these other girls was very real, whether it was with Ashely or Chantal. But he always had something different with Emily, and he always talked a little different about her and their relationship. You could just tell there was something there. And in the end it was very clear it was going to be her.
Brad said early on that Emily was the one for him. Did he ever say anything to you about it, or did you have suspicions?
Absolutely. I mean, we spent so much time together, whether it was hanging out in Anguilla or Costa Rica or whatever, off camera. It’s like I always go, I just say, “Hey, how was your date with Ashley last night? How was Chantal?” And when I would talk to him about Emily there was just something a little different in the way he talked about her. Where he would just, as only Brad could put it, “Man, there’s just something about this girl, I really think she might be the one.” But that’s what it would be: “I think.” “I really feel like she could be.” And so, to his credit, he didn’t give up on the others. And I think that’s one of the main problems I think that you can talk to Chantal about, and it hurt her. She really wanted to validate that her feelings were real and what Brad was saying to her was real, and I really believe that it was. It’s just what he had with Emily was different and he just loves her more. There’s no easy way to put that. There’s no easy way to tell a woman, “I’m just in love with somebody else.” It’s just going to hurt.
On the “After the Final Rose,” you talked about how Brad and Emily were going to get married on the ATFR special. Can you elaborate on that? How close did it come to happening?
Brad had mentioned as soon as the show was over — both of them were very excited and “Let’s get married, let’s do it tomorrow.” So once we got back to the United States and realized things were still going very well at this time, we decided, hey, let’s make “After the Final Rose” a wedding. We went to Brad and said let’s do this, and he was on board and excited about it. At first I think Emily was pretty open to it, but I think the more she thought about it — there’s a couple of reasons. First, the more she thought about it, to take a woman’s wedding day from her and make it kind of a private event is not a good idea. When she does get married she wants to do it right; she doesn’t want it to be a secret from family, friends, and everybody. That was one reason. And I think also the more she thought about it, rushing into a wedding with a daughter and not 100 percent sure where this was going would be a little irresponsible. So I think she’s the one that really hit the brakes and slowed it down and decided let’s wait this out, let’s watch the show and see where we are. Which was a responsible, smart thing to do, and I’m glad she did it.
Brad was clear from the beginning that he expected whatever girl he picked to move to Austin. But Emily isn’t apparently willing to do that yet. How did that happen? Did they somehow never discuss that?
Oh I think Emily knows. He was very forthright with Emily, and they’ve talked about it extensively. It’s not that Emily won’t move to Austin, it’s that, again, going back to her daughter, being a dad, you can’t make decisions for yourself anymore. I think all things being equal, Emily would move to Austin yesterday. But all things aren’t equal. She has a daughter, she has a life, she’s in school. And so you have a larger responsibility. Emily’s in Austin right now, they’re spending time together. Then Brad will be up in Charlotte. I think they’re going to go the Jason-and-Molly route. Jason had to do the same thing for his son. He couldn’t just go to Michigan to be with Molly. So it’s a different route they’re going to have to take. I think they’ll get there, but Emily will have to be reassured that this is really going to work before she up and moves to Austin.
Do you think they’ll be able to work out these issues, the long distance relationship and everything? Will they pull through this?
I do. I mean, look, it’s absolutely easy for everybody in the magazines and radio and TV to say they’re going to break up. It’s just an easy thing. They’re easy to take shots at. Couples always are. Statistically your neighbors are going to get divorced tomorrow. So, it’s easy to say it’s not going to work. From my perspective, two friends of mine that I saw and have gotten to know, I think they will try to make it work. I think they will fight like hell. And the reason I give them a good chance now is, I think before you have these two stubborn people and they were kind of butting heads because they were apart and dealing with this apart. Well, now it’s over. They’re together, and now they have a bit of a unified front. And I’ve talked to Brad already this morning and last night and know that it’s already kind of working in their favor in this respect. It’s them against the world. Now instead of the tabloid BS causing problems and causing a rift in their relationship, they can laugh at it and talk about what a joke it is. I literally read this morning on a website just a second ago — I forgot what it’s called — that an “inside source” said that Brad and Emily are broken up for good. It’s just like, you can’t fight that. It’s so ridiculous and it’s such BS, you can’t go out and fight every stupid rumor, every stupid tabloid report. All you can do is laugh at it. And I think that’s one of the great things about having Molly and Jason and Trista and Ryan and Ali and Roberto on the show last night is people that have been in their shoes, people that were able to pull them aside last night and say, “Look, you are bigger than this. This is about you guys. Don’t worry about the tabloids, don’t worry about all this garbage going on. Do what you want.” And what they want right now is to be alone and go have a relationship, so that’s what they’re doing now.
Do you know if Brad has had more time to see little Ricki again and how they’re going to approach introducing Brad to the bigger family?
I think they will in due time. That’s up to Brad and Emily, and I’m sure in due time they’ll share with you how they’re going to go about it. I know Emily well enough to know that she will do what’s right for her daughter first and her and Brad second. I’m guessing that’ll mean taking it slow and working their way into Ricki’s life and vice versa, Ricki into Brad’s life. I know she wants to make it work, I know she loves Brad dearly. And I know Brad loves Ricki very much and wants to be a part of this girl’s life. Because of that, I think they have the resolve and stubbornness to make this work. And that’s why I really feel it will end up working out.
You came to Michelle Money’s rescue last week during the “Women Tell All.” What was going through your head when the girls were relentlessly going after her?
It’s interesting. I’ve had a lot of people talk about, was it a good thing to defend her or maybe I shouldn’t have and I was too easy and I got duped by her and she was just acting. I just take it like, I guess I just call ‘em like I see ‘em. I can only react to what I feel in that moment. There’s no one telling me what to do or producing me or whatever. I’ve been doing this long enough that the producers really just give me free rein. If they care to show it on television, it’s up to them. And at that time, this girl was just destroyed and she was distraught. And I know people have said she was faking it. Believe me, if you were sitting there, this girl was not faking it. She was literally shaking and hyperventilating, and that was the main thing — she couldn’t catch her breath and talk. If you saw her body language, she was like cowering. So I did get protective of her. Regardless of if I believe her or not, or think that she deserves some of it, that’s beside the point. At that moment I just thought this girl didn’t deserve to get beat up on, and the girls just kept going and going. She had apologized several times and so I just said, “Enough.” I guess I stood up for her and did it in a way that was a bit abrupt, but I definitely stand by it because that’s how I felt at the moment.
In the promos for that special, there’s a clip of Brad saying to Ashley H. that he sabotaged their date in South Africa. That was never shown. Could you tell us about that?
Yeah, I think what Brad meant — and there’s some times where we’ll show something in a tease that won’t air because I think what you are shown is self-evident enough and paints the picture. What Brad meant was, that night was just bad. It was a bad date that went worse and got worse as the night went on. He was questioning Ashley so much and really put her on the spot, so they never had a chance to even have a good night, really from their dinner on. So he really felt bad later about kind of putting the screws to her that night and just not being able to — but that was part of her problem, too, and her defense mechanism and kind of sabotaging it as well. She never allowed Brad to love her. She never understood how Brad could like her. She just had this, I guess, self-doubt the entire time of “How can you like me?” You saw that in Anguilla too. Brad was literally trying to give her a rose and she was saying, “Don’t send me home.” He’s like, “I’m giving you a rose!” I’ve talked to Ashley about that, and we’ve laughed about it. I’m like, “You were so insecure.” She’s like, “I know, I hate it.” She’s like, “I go back and I watch that girl on the show and I want to just slap her.”
What are your thoughts on certain websites that announce results before they’re officially revealed, and as we saw with one prominent case, they had the wrong answer as to who Brad picked? What do you think about sites like that?
You know, not to go into a larger picture here, it’s going to happen. In this day and age, that’s where we are, unfortunately, in this world. Whether it’s tabloids putting out paparazzi pictures of us on the road or whatever. It’s just going to happen. Or WikiLeaks dropping national security secrets. When was the last time you didn’t know who the judges were on American Idol or who was going to be on Dancing With the Stars a week in advance? In this day and age of Twitter, Facebook, blogs, there’s no accountability. It’s not like you’re on CNN and you have to have three sources before you go with a story. I actually talked to — and I usually don’t ever get into this — but I actually talked to a tabloid reporter who wrote this ridiculous article about Emily. And I said, “OK, tell me who your sources are, and please don’t tell me there’s one unidentified source because that would never be enough in the world of journalism to go with a story, much less a cover story with headlines.” But that’s it. If you hear hearsay, and even if you pay somebody 15 grand for a story, that’s a source and you can go with it. And it can be the cover of your magazine or whatever. It’s changed so much and journalism has changed so much — again this is a much broader topic that I’ll get into when I teach college about how to be an actual journalist — but it’s something that you can’t fight. You almost have to embrace it as a television producer now. We have changed our show to really be more transparent. You look back at say the Rozlyn situation or Justin Rego who was on Ali’s season. You don’t just not give somebody a rose, now you really show, hey they had a girlfriend. And not only that, here are the voicemails. And here’s the girlfriend talking about it. Like, we have to go so far beyond what we used to because you know you’re going to be held accountable.
Since you are the expert on all things Bachelor and you are an expert on dealing with the tabloids and the like, what does it take in your mind to be a contestant on The Bacheloror Bachelorette? What does someone need to be right for the show?
Definitely a thick skin. I think you have to be self-assured, confident in who you are and your decision. Because in the end, that’s what you’re left with. The tabloids are going to go away. There will be another flavor of the month in a month or so, and Brad and Emily will be able to live their lives. And I think that’s what Jason and Molly and everyone was trying to tell them. Don’t worry about it, this too shall pass. So I think it’s just having perspective and those people that come in and have a good base, a good family, a good background, a good support system to go back to and realize what’s real, what’s meaningful, and what you stand for. As long as you stand by that stuff, then you’re fine. Because, ex-girlfriends? You know, if you’re 28, 30, 38 years old, like Brad is, you’re going to have exes. You’re going to have people in your life that will come out of the woodwork and ask for money from magazines and sell their stories for however much and try and get their 15 minutes of fame and try to attach themselves and date people from our show. That’s going to happen. But I think if you have good perspective, and you’re a decent human being, and you know what’s real in this world for you, it’s OK and it will go away.
We know Bachelors like Brad come to you for advice, but do any of the girls come to you for advice? You seem like the father figure on the show.
I like to think I’m the older brother more than the father. I’m not so old. It depends, it really depends. When it’s The Bachelorette, of course they do. Like Ashley I’m sure will. I’ve [talked] with Ali and Jillian. ‘Cause you get to be friends with these people and you get to be protective of them and you want them to do well. I think the “After the Final Rose” special was a good example of trying to help. The whole hour was really almost a therapy session of trying to help Emily and Brad. And that was my entire goal. My goal wasn’t to drag anything out of them and beat them up and really be sensational; I just really wanted to help them. And that was part of bringing all those couples in and giving them some advice and helping them along the way. Absolutely throughout the show, whether it’s Brad or it’s going to be Ashley coming up, I will fight to the nail to help them. As long as I feel like they’re being genuine and they’re being honest with me and they really want it, I will do anything in my power to help them out. It came out on the ATFR about Brad’s temper. Did you ever experience what Emily was talking about?
I did not, although why would anyone ever be mad at me? [Laughs] It’s funny, you brought up a good point, I would love to talk about that. Emily felt bad. We talked about this immediately after as I was saying goodbye to them. She’s like, “I felt bad that I said that word.” It’s funny, we talk about religion on TV. A good example is, someone says “Jesus” on TV, you might as well have said “Jesus” a thousand times. Religion’s so powerful. Emily felt the same way when she said he has a temper. Immediately it sounds a thousand times worse and she kind of regretted bringing that up because it made it seem like Brad’s this monster and he’s tough to deal with. But I promise you, they are two of the most stubborn people you’ll ever meet. Neither one of them is wrong. And let me tell you something about sweet Emily. Sweet little Emily can handle herself too and she’s stubborn as a mule. So they both butt heads and they have these knock-down-drag-out fights and get into it like normal couples do. But when she brings it in public and says that, I think immediately everybody thinks, “Oh my God, he’s like yelling at her, he’s verbally abusive and he’s a bad guy,” and that’s not the case. But they were battling with something separately and it was tough. They were really divided and she was going through it and Brad was trying to explain himself and every Tuesday morning they’d try to pick up the pieces. And a lot of that has changed just from last night to today where they are now kind of this unified team and now I think the stubbornness and this will to fight will definitely behoove them and help them move forward because now they’re together and it’s kind of this “Us against them” mentality. It seemed last night that Brad was completely besotted by Emily but she still had reservations, like she wasn’t that into him. What did you think?
No, I get that. I don’t know if Chantal is on the line listening, but it was really funny because Emily was talking to me about her, and she’s like, “I watch the show back and I watch Brad and Chantal and they look so comfortable together and their dates are so great. Then I watch Brad and I, and it almost looked awkward and uncomfortable.” But Brad is like that. He’s like that with women when he really likes them. It’s almost like a schoolboy crush. They always have this weird almost cute awkwardness about them when they’re together. Obviously I’ve been with them in private, they don’t have that, but definitely on camera I get that. And it almost seems weird together. When they’re off camera, when they’re just hanging out and talking, they’re adorable together. Do you think the difference in their ages (14 years) is coming into play here? Obviously Emily knew what she was signing on for, and the show is edited, so she’s not seeing all of what happened. So why is she backing off now and so upset?
First of all, to answer your question about the age, normally I would say, “That’s a good point.” I think Emily has lived, unfortunately, a longer, more experienced life than hopefully any of us will have to endure, with the tragedies of her daughter and being a single mom. I almost look at Emily, honestly, I’m older than Brad is but I feel like she’s as old as I am when I talk to her. She’s so mature and it’s not like that with all the women on the show. I think it would’ve been different and they probably would’ve gone their separate ways had it been a different girl who might’ve been younger and they were facing these same problems. But Emily has this resolve and this maturity and that’s why I think they’ll make it. Honestly, that’s why I think they’ll go back and fight this out because they are a very mature couple. Brad just in life experience, but Emily too in having a daughter and knowing what’s real and what’s important. I think they’ll have the resolve and will gut this out.
How long do you think it will take them to get to the altar? And if they don’t get married, would you bring Brad back for a third try?
There will not be a third time. I told Brad, I was like, “This is it, man. You’re done. Good, bad, indifferent, don’t screw this up, ‘cause that’s it.” In all seriousness, I don’t know when they’ll get married. I hope it’s soon, I hope it’s a year. But if it’s five years down the road, whenever it is, I promise you I’ll be there front and center. I would probably, if I was guessing, I would probably guess that Ali and Roberto would walk down the aisle first and then hopefully Brad and Emily, but I didn’t want to put them on the spot either. Because one thing I’ve learned with these couples is, I want them to live their life. I want Ali to have a wedding when she wants to get married, when it’s right for them. I love the fact that they’re still together, living in San Diego and doing good. And I love the fact that Emily and Brad are in Austin right now, starting to date and go out in public for the first time, taking those baby steps. So I do think they’ll get married. When? I don’t know.
There was an episode where Brad said he loved Emily and that’s not something we normally see on The Bachelor. What made you decide to show that?
You’re right. [...] It makes it tough, as a producer, because he was so forthright. He was open, he was so honest, and he absolutely gave it all in every relationship whether it was Ashley, Chantal, Emily, and he really explored every opportunity and every chance with all of them. And he was almost honest to the point of us having to say, “You’ve gotta back it off a little,” because he did essentially tell Emily, “I’m falling in love with you.” He basically told her before the proposal that “I want to be the father to Ricki, I hope you’ll allow me to do that. I want to be with you.” I think we felt that with Brad, because he had overcome these issues, I think it was more important to show Brad in this honest light and not really play the “games” with the viewers as much and keep you in the dark as much. I think we really wanted to show this guy was sincere and also maybe show that it was going to end with this love story, which it did.
Emily said she was shown as boring on the show. A lot of people did think she was too even-keeled. What is she really like?
I know it’s funny. She always tells me, she’s like, “Would you just ring a bell in my ear when I’m not being interesting?” I’m like, “Emily, just be yourself. You’re not here to put on a show.” Although it is a show. I’m like, “That’s our job. Just be yourself.” She’s a lovely woman. And I don’t know if she wants to come out juggling or swallow fire or whatever, but I’m like, “That’s not your job, just be the great girl you are.”
Does she have a sense of humor?
She does. You know, it’s funny, what people say about Brad, “What’s the one thing people don’t know about Brad?” I’m like, Brad has a great, terrific sense of humor, he’s a lot more outgoing. Chantal I think will be a perfect person to talk to about this, about what this [show] does to you. You are a little bit different ‘cause you know you’re going to be seen on TV. So for a while you’re going to act like the person you think you want to be perceived as and it’s tough to open up and it’s tough to be yourself. Chantal, I think will give great insight into this. I think Emily was the same way. Don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about how people see you on TV. The main thing is Brad saw who you are.