“Bachelor in Paradise” occupies an odd place in ABC’s “The Bachelor / The Bachelorette” franchise, being less a dating competition and more a “Love Boat” for the 2010s, where fan-favorite stars mingle in an exotic locale while looking for romance. Clearly, something about that works, since last year’s season 3 was its highest-rated — and publicity from an unexpected controversy promises to give the new season, starting Monday at 8 p.m., a boost of new eyeballs.
That controversy was, of course, the widely publicized production hiatus that commenced when production company Warner Bros. announced on June 11 it had “become aware of allegations of misconduct on the set,” centering on a sexually charged swimming-pool encounter between DeMario Jackson, of the just-concluded season of “The Bachelorette,” and Corinne Olympios, from “The Bachelor” season 21. An internal investigation concluded after nine days that no wrongdoing had occurred, though Warner Bros. did promise “to implement certain changes to the show’s policies and procedures to enhance and further ensure the safety and security of all participants.”
While the company also said it would not show footage of the controversial incident, it barely kept that promise in a promotional clip shown during last Monday’s “Bachelorette” finale. It showed a shirtless Jackson and a clothed Olympios getting into a grotto-style pool together, then Olympios sitting with two other cast-members as an off-screen producer asks, “Can I steal you for a minute?” We see a producer make a slashing motion with his hand, saying, “Shut it down! Cut it! Cut it!” Someone’s voice observes that the camera crew has stopped shooting — though they evidently resume, as cast-member Danielle Maltby tells the camera, “The whole cast was just shocked and confused. Are Corinne and DeMario OK? All we know is that we aren’t filming.”
While Jackson and Olympios declined to return after the hiatus to the show’s Sayulita, Mexico, locale, they did sit with host and executive producer Chris Harrison in a studio on Aug. 5 for interviews that will be interspersed throughout the season, fellow executive producer Martin Hilton told Entertainment Weekly.
“They each have their say,” Hilton said. “They were quite emotional in terms of how they felt, DeMario in particular. It was really heartbreaking to see what he had to say. I think it was unfair equally to both DeMario and Corinne in terms of the way they were portrayed” in media reports. (Each denied wrongdoing and were cleared by the internal investigation.)
The season will be about more than them, obviously, with ABC touting in particular the wedding airing on Tuesday’s Night 2 premiere at 8 p.m. of franchise veterans Carly Waddell and Evan Bass. They tied the knot in a June ceremony officiated by Harrison. The couple — who met while shooting a previous season — announced on Aug. 6 that they are expecting their first child. Bass has three sons from a previous marriage.
Harrison told Entertainment Weekly that because of the shortened schedule, production “was cut down and compacted” and so the show for the first time would do a live finale episode. “It’s going to be interesting and I think a lot more fun for all of us,” Harrison said. “It’s going to have a live studio audience.”