When a franchise is as successful as ABC’s dating competitions “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” it makes sense to extend the brand. Thus “Bachelor Pad,” “Bachelor in Paradise” and now the faux-Olympic “The Bachelor Winter Games,” premiering Tuesday at 8 p.m.
“We play it straight but with a wink and nod,” says ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor Hannah Storm, 55, who co-hosts with “Bachelor” mainstay Chris Harrison. They and KABC sports anchor Ashley Brewer provide a sort-of serious framework for the skiing, ice skating, biathlon and other sports competitions featuring 26 bachelors and bachelorettes from both the original U.S. edition and international editions. “You have to play it straight — this person’s winning, this person’s losing — but there’s no small measure of humor in our commentary. We do fall into movie-sportscaster mode.”
“It’s almost like we were going full ‘Anchorman’ on these sporting events,” Harrison, 46, told Newsday in a conference call with media, referring to the movie comedy about portentous 1970s news anchors. “You really have to be serious about it or else it’s not going to be funny.”
Serious sports competition is not the crux of these games, he says. “That was the kind of the fatal flaw with ‘Bachelor Pad.’ . . . It became a game show. And it became about the money and the twist at the end” rather than about relationships. “And so one thing we quickly agreed upon is, no matter what we do, ‘Bachelor Winter Games’ has to be about, at the end of the day, relationships.”
Junior high-school relationships, apparently. “When a woman looks beautiful, I like it,” says Christian Rauch, 34 — from a season each of Germany and Switzerland’s “Die Bachelorette” — in full “Beavis and Butt-head” mode in the series premiere. Ashley Iaconetti, 29, from “The Bachelor” season 19 moans of being passed over for a date. “Why does this always happen?” she says, tearfully. “It’s like if she comes back really liking him and then it’s going to . . . [expletive] if he likes her. . . . Why don’t I ever get picked?”
The show, which involved filming over about 30 days from mid-December to mid-January in and around Manchester, Vermont, and The Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain in nearby Wilmington, features contestants from the United States, Australia, Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Fans will see such favorites as Iaconetti and former “Bachelor” star Ben Higgins, but the breakout star, Harrison predicts, will be guileless Yuki Kimura, from “The Bachelor Japan.” “We sit in the control room, with people that have been doing this for decades, like I have, and we are speechless and we cannot take our eyes off this girl,” he says. “She’s just so compelling, she’s so sweet, she’s so funny” — despite speaking no English and requiring a translator. “That’s star power.”
Let the games begin.