Chris Harrison, longtime host of ABC's "The Bachelor" dating competition and its spinoffs including "The Bachelorette" and "Bachelor in Paradise," is officially off the franchise following racially charged comments he made in February.
"Chris Harrison is stepping aside as host of The Bachelor franchise," the network and the production company, Warner Horizon, said in a joint statement to Newsday. "We are thankful for his many contributions over the past 20 years and wish him all the best on his new journey."
"I've had a truly incredible run as host of The Bachelor franchise and now I’m excited to start a new chapter," Harrison, 49, subsequently wrote on Instagram. "I’m so grateful to Bachelor Nation for all of the memories we’ve made together. While my two-decade journey is wrapping up, the friendships I’ve made will last a lifetime."
Among those offering supportive comments were Roslyn-raised J.P. Rosenbaum, who won Ashley Hebert's hand in 2003's "The Bachelorette" season 7. Also wishing the former host well were season-12 "Bachelorette" star JoJo Fletcher, season-22 "Bachelor" star Arie Luyendyk Jr., and both Sean Lowe, star of "The Bachelor" season 17, and his wife Catherine Giudici, that season’s winner.
Following Harrison's controversial comments in February to "Extra" correspondent Rachel Lindsay — who in 2017 became the first African-American star of "The Bachelorette" — the host announced he was taking a leave of absence from the franchise.
For the most recent season of "The Bachelor" post-finale show, "After the Final Rose," which aired March 15, he was replaced by NFL analyst Emmanuel Acho, author of the bestseller "Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man." Three days before it aired, ABC and Warner Horizon had announced replacement hosts for "The Bachelorette" season 17, which premiered Monday, saying in a statement: "We support Chris in the work that he is committed to doing. In his absence, former Bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe will support the new Bachelorette through next season."
Variety last week said comedian David Spade would be one of several guest hosts replacing Harrison for season 7 of the spinoff "Bachelor in Paradise," set to premiere Aug. 16. Neither the network nor the producers have confirmed the report.
In a Feb. 9 "Extra" interview, Harrison had assailed the "woke police" for criticizing the most recent "Bachelor" season's eventual winner, Rachael Kirkconnell. That contestant had been accused of "liking" racist social-media posts and attending an antebellum-themed party in 2018, keeping silent for six weeks after this became public. Among his comments, Harrison suggested there were no concerns in 2018 about celebrating the slaveholding Old South.
"These girls got dressed up and went to a party and had a great time," he told Lindsay. "They were 18 years old. Now, does that make it OK? I don't know, Rachel, you tell me. But where is this lens we're holding up, and was that lens available and were we all looking through it in 2018?"
Harrison and Kirkconnell separately apologized shortly afterward. Then on Feb. 13, Harrison said he was stepping down temporarily as franchise host. He expressed further contrition on "Good Morning America" in March, though dubious interviewer Michael Strahan told his "GMA" co-hosts that Harrison's apology "felt like … nothing more than a surface response on any of this. And obviously, he is a man who wants to, clearly, stay on the show. But only time will tell if there is any meaning behind his words."
As of early afternoon Tuesday, Harrison's capsule biography on his Twitter account continued to read, "Host of the Bachelor franchise and pretty much all things involving crying, roses & relationships!" His Instagram account's capsule reads, "Humble servant and host to Bachelor Nation."