Ben’s “Cheating” Photos Put Him in a “Bad Light” — Chris Harrison Sounds Off on Ben and Courtney’s Future
Rosemaster Chris Harrison jumped on the post-Bachelor 16 conference call this week to give his final thoughts on the newly re-engaged Ben Flajnik and Courtney Robertson — since they didn’t feel like doing any press themselves.
Chris also talked about why he and his family were pretty much Team Lindzi Cox from Day One, and whether or not we might see Ben and Courtney back on television again.
Do you feel like you're rooting Ben and Courtney on to stay together as a couple or do you think they're not right for each other? Chris Harrison: No, of course I'm rooting them on. You know, why wouldn't you? I mean, I know that she wasn't the most popular choice and that if you put it to America's vote maybe she wouldn't have been in it, but I think the important thing and the great thing about the show is that was Ben's choice. And so why not respect that? And who am I not to respect that? And so of course I wish them the best and the million dollar question, will they make it? Who knows? Who's to say which couples make it in life? But I do, I wish them the very best.
Was it awkward for you to take out that ring during the "After the Final Rose" special? You pulled it out of your pocket and kind of looked to it, like, "OK, what's going to happen? " Yes, you know in 10 years of doing this show that's never happened before. Usually, the couple’s either broken up or they're together and you know definitively one way or the other, and really for the first time I did not know how that show was going to go. So, it was very awkward holding that ring and handing it to him and even in handing it to him I wasn't sure it was going to happen. It was a really awkward moment, but I think it was a pivotal moment and showing them their proposal again, and getting them back in that space and remembering what it was all about and how happy they were and then putting the ring back on her finger it was a — turned out to be a beautiful moment. But I guess it could have gone the opposite direction.
So this is not the first time in Bachelor history that a bachelor has sort of been left with the bad girl, kind of sexy girl and then the nice sweet girl. Why do you think they always almost pick the bad girl and does picking the bad girl ever work? Maybe cause guys are dumb. I think we've been found out that we're not very smart animals. If you go back to, like, Jake [Pavelka] and Vienna [Girardi]’s season, I was trying to think if there were any others of the top of my head or there was kind of the good versus evil so to speak but this season I think more than that. When you look at Ben and Courtney I think the kind of profound moment in the interview was when we both kind of talked about how quirky they are, and they are. They're both kind of quirky people and in a weird way they very much fit. He really liked the way that Courtney challenged him and she never took what he called “The Ben pill” and just went with the status quo. She always challenged the whole thing and he really liked that about her. And I think that it was something that didn't quite come across on television and obviously we were all kind of caught up in the emotion of Courtney, in what she was doing.
How hard was it for you to sit there with Ben and Courtney being so upset and the audience had, like, daggers shooting out of their eyes? Wow, that was a really interesting situation. When you bring someone out, you kind of just assume that there is going to be the obligatory applause and there was more applause — I mean there was more smattering of boos than there were applause. So it was really awkward. I felt kind of bad for her and — not that maybe she didn't deserve it to a certain extent and she didn't bring it on herself, but you still feel bad when this happy couple or supposedly happy couple walks out and people are booing them. It was — it's tough and it just goes to show what a chord this show strikes and how emotional it is for everybody involved. Not just people on it but the viewers as well.
During that same [“After the Final Rose”] special you asked Ben about the US Weekly photos in which he was shown kissing other women and he kind of gave a hard to believe answer that what was shown in the photos wasn't kissing even though it kind of seemed to be very clear that that's what was happening. So had you not actually seen those photos before you talked to Ben or was there some other reason why you didn't ask him to elaborate on his explanation? Did you actually ask but maybe it just was just cut during the editing like what happened. Sadly enough, and maybe I probably should have, but I don't — and this is maybe a bad thing to admit or more in a conference call — I don't really look at those magazines. I don't read any magazines. I mean especially like tabloid stuff. Honestly, I read like Men's Health and Golf Digest and that's about it as far as magazines go. So I don't — I never saw the pictures. I don't really, I didn't care. I've seen them since. Someone gave them to me when I hosted Access Live the other day and it did. It looked, I mean it looked very compelling and it looked — it... put him in a bad light. I mean I see why everybody was so upset. But I also know that and I don't know the explanation — whether it's true, false or not — and I'll take Ben at his word. But I also know that one picture in a moment in time captured his ... God, I mean “There by the grace of God,” it could've happened to me a million times over the last 10 years while I've been hosting this show. She's apparently a very good friend of his, is what he said and whatever explanation he gave. So I'll take his word for it. But no, I finally just saw it well after the show. I didn't know about the wedding dress pictures either. I mean I've heard about them but I'd never seen them.
You've moderated some very dramatic scenarios. You've seen Jason [Mesnick], Melissa [Rycroft] and Molly [Malaney], and we almost could have seen that happen again last night and then, of course, between Jake and Vienna, and then [Monday night], between Courtney and Ben. Which was the hardest for you to moderate out of all those dramatic scenarios? Probably one of the most difficult things I've ever handled and done was the Jason and Molly and Melissa situation. This one is very different. This was more emotional and they're all different. They all have a very different feel and I treat them differently depending on what the situation is. With this one, I kind of — the best analogy I can give is kind of wading into the water slowly, not sure of if [I would] fall or if we were going to keep on wading because I just wasn't sure I was going to go. So I kind of delicately led them in that direction to see where it would take us and I'm glad it ended up in a good place. But I just wasn't sure. So that way — that wasn't as much trepidation as it was just kind of delicately walking through and finding out what we were going to get.
Lindzi touched on it... but what was the decision for not including her in "After the Final Rose" when she was backstage the entire time? Yes, I mean I was sorry she didn't come out but — Lindzi probably had a good explanation as well but — and I talked to her after the show and one of the mistakes I think we made to go back to Jason, Molly and Melissa is that we kind of forgot about our audience in the journey they were taking and this time we didn't make that mistake. We took the approach of, OK, we're coming off this proposal. We need to keep the story going and that story was Ben and Courtney, and we kept that story going forward, you, especially the audience I'm talking about. And I talked to Ben, I talked to Courtney and then when we brought them out together and you had that emotional scene and they're crying. To go then back to Lindzi would — it just made no sense and it left her nowhere to go and it would have put her in a bad light, put her in uncomfortable awkward situation. And so we talked to her and she understood and so she felt she really didn't have any questions unanswered. She really didn't have any issues and so all that being said, why put her out there in kind of a "no-win" situation and so we all agreed to kind of just say, "you know what let's just — let's put Ashley [Hebert] and JP [Rosenbaum] on and we'll end on a high note.” Because after Courtney and Ben were together and he puts the ring back on to kind of go backwards now would have been — it just didn't make any TV sense and it didn't make sense for Lindzi.
You said this season was “darker” and you certainly had to do your fair share kind of defending Ben and Courtney. Were you a Lindzi fan the whole way and do you think that maybe now it's better off that's she's not with Ben? Yes, it's impossible not to be a Lindzi fan. She was my daughter's favorite too. So I kind of have this other fan at home, my little eight-year-old girl who doesn't watch the show and really has never known a character on the show ever. But for some reason she must have been walking through that first night and she saw Lindzi ride up on a horse and that was it. So all of a sudden she was a Lindzi fan and then we were in Belize and my family was in Belize and met Lindzi and just fell — because she's blonde, looks like my daughter — just fell in love with her. Lindzi was kind of a family favorite for us that season. And she was so sweet and so easy to get along with, and she was great but I don't — not so much to say that Ben made the wrong choice. I mean Ben made the right choice for him and I had my times where I got along fine with Courtney as well, but Lindzi was just such a loving, lovable person. She was easy to get along with.
Do you think that you guys will plan any kind of TV update for Ben and Courtney? There has been such fan interest that we'd love to see three months from now are they still together. What's the plan? Have you guys talked to about any of that? We haven't talked about it. We will see how things play out but obviously looking at the specials that we have coming up will be Emily [Maynard]'s "Men Tell All" and Emily's "After the Final Rose" then into Bachelor Pad 3 where there's chances to update people. So yes, if there's something of interest — and that's the great thing about this show is that it really is the modern day soap opera. And these stories will continue to play their way out in the media and the public eye. And so, of course, if there's something big whether it's a proposal or I guess a marriage because there are already engaged, marriage plans or anything significant then, yes, absolutely we'll update the fans.
Ben has been on two seasons now. Was it hard to watch him get teary-eyed and really emotional about the spoiled engagement and everything? Yes and no. Part of it, and this sounds weird, part of it was — I was actually happy to see. I think it was the culmination of them just being exhausted and they just, they've been beaten up just left and right by the press, the fans and it's a lot. Even the fans that were in our live studio audience, who were kind of booing and giving the cat calls. … It was kind of nice to see that both he and Courtney let down their guard and you saw a very real emotion from them. And I was happy to see that they have that in them together and that when they were together that's when it happened because that means a lot. That it happened when they felt safe together and they came together and that's when that real emotion came out. I know that maybe a little deep and little too psychological to get in an interview but I was relieved to see that and I was happy to see that.
You know Courtney now on a different level, do you see the sweet side that Ben sees, the genuine side? Yes, I see — I do see a genuine side of Courtney. I see a very vulnerable side and, again, I know like I can hear the fans in my head right now booing and saying, "oh, you're drinking the Courtney Kool-Aid." I'm not. I'm not justifying anything. I'm not saying she's Mother Teresa, and I'm not saying she's the greatest woman in the world. But what I do know about her is, this situation got the best of her. … I do know that, you know, that there was definite real emotion there and she does care for Ben. Good or bad that's the most important thing that I can see as far as Ben and her leaving and going off to live their life.
So how did you discover that Ben and Courtney had already broken up once during the season and were you shocked or not when you found out? You know, I wasn't shocked. I was a little disappointed and I was disappointed to hear that, I mean — well, first of all, let me backup because your first question was how did I find out. Some of the producers told me. They keep in touch and they're the ones who help with the rendezvous and put everything together. I mean, somebody called and told me that they're not doing very well and maybe we're kind of — Ben wasn't responding very well. And that was really my question was, what's going on, and they said Ben is really the one that's backed off and the one that's really not responding to her. And I was definitely surprised and a little bit disappointed to hear that he was the one that had backed away, although understandable. I know he got caught up in it all and he was listening to Courtney's — watching the show and watching what Courtney was saying and then reading the tabloids and then it was tough for him too. And I just wished he had chosen to go the opposite direction and let it bond them together and circle the wagons and unfortunately they went their separate ways in the middle. But he apologized and he's kind of seen the error of his ways and hopefully they'll be the stronger for it later.
During the "After the Final Rose" taping... we didn't see you ask anything about whether Courtney plans on moving to San Francisco or anything like that. So could you clarify that now? Are you aware of any plans? You bet. They're not moving in together per se. They're going — he's keeping his place. Obviously he works up in Sonoma in San Francisco and she's down in Santa Monica. And so they're going to kind of go back and forth when she's in Santa Monica he'll be down there a lot and when he's up in San Francisco and has to work she'll be going up there. So they're going to kind of split between the two cities. And again, the big question is... are going to put in the work and the time and the effort and actually be together then this will work and they have a great shot. Again, if they take time and spend it apart and keep separating then they'll drift apart. … So again, it's up to them to kind of write their own story. … Only time will tell.