Chris Harrison on ‘Bachelor’ Secrets: Cougar Contestant Is No Stunt

While promoting his new ABC game show, “You Deserve It,” “Bachelor” host Chris Harrison told that the old lady contestant being shown in promos for the new season of “The Bachelor” is not a cheap joke.

Chris confirmed that winery owner Ben Flajnik—the beloved “Bachelorette” runner-up who is the new Bachelor on season 16, debuting Jan. 2—did have an encounter with a cougar. On the first night, in which Ben is introduced to the women who will vie for his heart, “someone gets out of the limo that surprises Ben. But for those fans who are up in arms about the fact we would put a grandmother on the show, I would say just watch,” Chris said. “It’s a very cute moment and has a lot more meaning than what the promo is leading on. Obviously the promo is to get people talking and into it, but just know that it’s a very dear moment. I think people think we threw on this grandmother who’s a contestant, [and that] it’s very cheesy. People should know we’ve never been about that. It’s more of a meaningful emotional moment than it is a sensational stunt.”

While fans will see something new—an elderly woman on “The Bachelor”—Chris said the main focus will be on Ben, who was rejected by Ashley Hebert in favor of her pick J.P Rosenbaum this summer on “The Bachelorette.” “The guy who everybody fell in love with when he kind of stood up for himself when Ashley dumped him after a proposal, that’s the guy who’s this bachelor. He’s strong, very emotional and heart on his sleeve and he doesn’t mince words with the women in the situation. He’s not rude about it but he’s very direct about the drama and BS and he’s like, ‘we’re not doing that. We’re not going through this mess. I’m here to find somebody.’ By the end, you’ll realize he’s as or more sincere than any Bachelor we’ve ever have on the show.”

The longtime “Bachelor” host gave his “Bachelor” thoughts while plugging his new ABC gig on the altruistic game show “You Deserve It,” debuting this Monday, Nov. 21 after “Dancing with the Stars.” (Check Monday for more information on Chris’ new show.)

He said fans will be in Ben’s corner from the beginning as the women compete for his attention. “From Ben’s perspective, you kind of have this guy who really we saw go through this metamorphosis with his dad and Ashley’s season where he got down on one knee. He said he was ready on night one [of the new Bachelor]—[but] I don’t know if he really was. I think he was still a little reluctant and maybe a little cavalier in his attitude but when you see the way he evolves and the way the women change him as the season goes along, it’s fantastic on an emotional level.

Preview the New Season of “The Bachelor”:

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“On a dramatic level, you have some of these women who aren’t there for the right reasons, that are messing around and he has to navigate his way through that, which is part of the deal.” Chris added that the women are very diverse this season: “Sometimes, you kind of look at the cast and several weeks in, they all kind of look alike and you’re trying to figure out who everybody is—that’s not the case. This season, it’s a very dynamic, different crew. Physically speaking the looks are very different and [they come from] different walks of life. People will find them very easy to follow. People will get into it pretty quickly.

“The other thing I love is that unlike Ashley, with Ben—every women knew when they came in to cast the show that Ben was The Bachelor. They already kind of have a crush on this guy and know him but in some ways, he’s kind of a celebrity and something he has to fight through that hey, I’m really just a normal guy trying to find love.

“I cannot say if he found love because I don’t know where we stand on that but I promise our fans are guaranteed to absolutely love this season.”

Meanwhile, Chris said Bachelorette Ashley Hebert and her fiancée J.P. Rosenbaum are still head over heels in love. What has he heard about them lately? “A wedding! That’s how good they’re doing. I’m hearing rumors that a wedding is coming very soon. They are doing fantastic and could not be more in love. I’m so unbelievably excited for them and can’t wait to go the wedding.”

When asked if Ashley had told him any specific plans, Chris replied, “No, nor would I say anything if she had. I know a wedding date and wedding plans are something you don’t mess with as far as women go. That is all hers! I do talk to her and keep in touch with her and they are so good and so happy and in love and they’ve really figured things out. They’re in New York and I think that’s where they’re going to stay. It’s really cool to see they’re having such a good time.

“What I love is they have followed the same kind of strategy of our other successful couples, which is get out of L.A., get out of this world and go live your life and really love each other so they’ve really done a great job like Jason and Molly and Ryan and Trista and Ali and Roberto and all these successful copies that now are on this amazing roll.”

Chris said of the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise, “If it’s anything like Ben’s season we just wrapped up on, we’re going to be around for a long time. We always laugh—there’s always this moment after we wrap production where the producers huddle together and we all make this comment, ‘wow, I think this concept works.’ We’ve been making same joke for ten years now and 23 seasons. The concept works. You plug everybody in and our producers do an amazing job and our crew and once again, we’ve put together what I think is a fantastic season that our fans will absolutely fall in love with. Ben was great, the girls were dynamic. There’s a thousand different storylines to follow. It’s going to be an amazing ride.”

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