81ºF

'Bachelorette' Production Might Move to a Different State Amid Coronavirus, Chris Harrison Says (Exclusive)

photo

Viewers might see yet another Bachelor mansion when Clare Crawley's season of The Bachelorette finally starts filming. 

Production on the ABC dating series was halted due to coronavirus concerns on March 13, just hours before filming was supposed to kick off at the Bachelor mansion in Los Angeles. Now, with some states loosening restrictions on social distancing and opening back up, host Chris Harrison says it's a possibility that Crawley's season could be relocated. 

"Right now it is still up in the air as far as timing goes. The state of California just took a big step back," he told ET's Lauren Zima. "Who knows what is going on, so maybe we leave. Maybe we have to go to a state that has their stuff together and we can shoot." 

"Maybe we are doing this in Texas -- I don't know -- but right now we are just waiting and seeing where we can do this safely until we can do it the right way," he added. (The last time The Bachelor or Bachelorette kicked off in a different Bachelor mansion was during Emily Maynard's 2012 season, in her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.) 

If all goes as planned, Crawley's season of The Bachelorette could start filming in the last half of the summer, and air in the fall. As Harrison noted, however, that will only happen if they're able to make the show the "right" way. 

"I don't want to make this a quarantine version and I don't want it to look weird. I am seeing a lot of stuff on TV that I am not loving," he confessed. "This is an escape. People want to get away, and I want to do it right. And when we can do it right, I want to do it with Clare -- and yeah, we are re-casting still, because who knows what the world is going to look like when we get done." 

Crawley has been encouraging new men to apply for her season since soon after the shutdown in March. All these changes could end up being a good thing for Crawley's chances at finding love, as some fans thought the previously-announced cast (with an average age of 29, compared to Crawley's 39) was not age appropriate. 

In an interview with Variety last week, Rob Mills, ABC Entertainment's Senior Vice President of Alternative Series, Specials & Late-Night Programming, said they were looking at shooting Crawley's "entire season" at one secure location, perhaps allowing for romantic road trips if possible, and analyzing whether hometown dates could happen down the line. 

"I think whatever you do, we are not going to be back to normal flying around the world and just doing what we want, but I think there is a happy medium," Harrison told ET. "I just don't want to lean into the quarantine and be like, 'Hey, this is the quarantine edition -- we are doing it all via Zoom.' That is not what the show is about. It's not what people are watching it for." 

"We have talked about maybe going to one location and lock it down or maybe we can only travel a little bit," he confirmed. "We are just throwing out ideas, nothing is definitive. But I still want it to look like The Bachelor. I want it to look like The Bachelorette, so people realize, 'This is my show. OK, I can escape, I could fall into this.'" 

If Crawley's season does indeed air in the fall, it could affect the timeline for The Bachelor (or at least the announcement of its lead). The flagship series usually reveals its lead in August or September, and films from then until November, airing from January to March. If Crawley's season doesn't start airing until September, it could exclude her crop of contestants from being in the running for Bachelor -- but there is "no line in the sand," Harrison explained. 

"I know our Bachelor schedule -- we shoot in the fall and it airs in the winter, so there actually is a big gap in there because we try to be kind to everybody and we get done right before Thanksgiving and so we can all have a break with our families," he said, but noted that years ago, they did film over the holiday break. "So, we can shift things considerably." 

"We do have that gap, so what does that mean for [Bachelor in Paradise]? I don't know. Do we have to leapfrog over it? I don't know, that'll be for the powers that be, and it'll go above my pay grade," Harrison added. "But I know Bachelorette is our primary focus, and then we'll see where we are. Maybe we have a great setup and we're like, 'OK, let's go into Bachelor.' But we don't have a Bachelor yet, so we'll have to see."

The advantage of The Bachelor franchise is that they can "adjust a lot more than someone who is shooting at a studio or on a lot." "We could shoot anywhere at any time with any amount of people, so we can adjust and be a little bit more fluid in that regard," Harrison said. "So, I think we are more equipped to make good TV quicker." 

In the meantime, the franchise has slotted new content to air over the summer. The Bachelor: The Most Unforgettable -- Ever! will air for 10 episodes starting on Monday, June 8, looking back at some of the most iconic and unforgettable moments in Bachelor -- and television -- history. Harrison will revisit some of the franchise's most memorable moments and catch up with fan-favorite alumni. 

"The quarantine has definitely spurred this thing on, and [Bachelor creator] Mike Fliess and I started talking immediately and thought, 'What could we do? Everybody wants content and then there was this clamoring for old seasons of The Bachelor,'" he said. "A lot of people missed some huge, pivotal seasons, so let's go back... [and] make it fun and interesting and very different."

The Bachelor: The Most Unforgettable -- Ever! premieres Monday, June 8 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart currently airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. See more in the video below. 

RELATED CONTENT: 

'Bachelor' Franchise Continues With a Greatest Hits Series This Summer

'Bachelorette' Contestant Matt James Seemingly Reacts to Clare Crawley's Shade 

‘Bachelor’ Fans Think They Found Proof Victoria Fuller and Chris Soules Are Quarantining Together