Entertainment

Ousted Bachelor host Chris Harrison seen for first time since ABC paid him ‘$25M hush money’


Ousted Bachelor host Chris Harrison was pictured on Wednesday for the first time since dramatically quitting the show after almost 20 years, and reportedly walking away with a $25 million payout.

Harrison, 49, confirmed on Tuesday that he was leaving the show, after he was suspended in February for defending a contestant who dressed up at a slavery-themed ‘Plantation Party’, saying he was not the ‘woke police’.

On Thursday he was seen taking out what appeared to be Chinese take out containers to the trash, wearing a Texas Christian University t-shirt from the Horned Frogs football team.

Harrison was on the phone the entire time, apparently deep in conversation outside his home in the Westlake Village area of Los Angeles.

Chris Harrison, 49, was seen taking out what appeared to be a Chinese take out box on Wednesday from his home in the Westlake Village area of Los Angeles. Harrison on Tuesday confirmed that he was leaving The Bachelor franchise after almost 20 years as host – right from when the show began, in 2002

Harrison, from Dallas, Texas, was wearing a Texas Christian University football t-shirt promoting their team, known as the Horned Frogs

Harrison, from Dallas, Texas, was wearing a Texas Christian University football t-shirt promoting their team, known as the Horned Frogs

Harrison, a divorced father of two, has been based in Los Angeles while the Bachelor shows film. In December it was reported that he was also building a home in his native Texas, in the Barton Springs area of Austin - a booming tech and media hub

Harrison, a divorced father of two, has been based in Los Angeles while the Bachelor shows film. In December it was reported that he was also building a home in his native Texas, in the Barton Springs area of Austin – a booming tech and media hub

Harrison in his statement on Tuesday said he would treasure his memories and friendships formed during the two decade-run on the show

Harrison in his statement on Tuesday said he would treasure his memories and friendships formed during the two decade-run on the show

Harrison's troubles began in February, when he defended contestant Rachael Kirkconnell for attending an Old South-themed party in 2018, and said she was being attacked by the 'woke police'

Harrison’s troubles began in February, when he defended contestant Rachael Kirkconnell for attending an Old South-themed party in 2018, and said she was being attacked by the ‘woke police’

Chris Harrison officially left The Bachelor franchise on Tuesday, after serving as host for 19 years

Harrison's departure came after he faced intense backlash for defending contestant Rachael Kirkconnell (pictured) after photos emerged of her at a 2018 Old South plantation-themed fraternity formal

Chris Harrison officially left The Bachelor franchise on Tuesday, after serving as host for 19 years. His departure came after he faced intense backlash for defending contestant Rachael Kirkconnell (right) after photos emerged of her at a 2018 Old South plantation-themed fraternity formal

The divorced father of two lives with his girlfriend, Entertainment Tonight host Lauren Zima, 33, who he has been dating since 2018.

The Dallas-born presenter has hosted The Bachelor for 25 seasons, from the show’s beginning in 2002.

His decision was not entirely unexpected.

In December he was reported to be building a home in Austin, Texas – giving rise to speculation that he had outgrown the show even before the racism row. The Bachelor films in Hollywood.

Furthermore, his replacements since February won widespread acclaim.

Ex-NFL player Emmanuel Acho hosted the finale of The Bachelor, while the season premiere of The Bachelorette aired without a hitch on Monday, with former Bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe hosting instead of Harrison.

Harrison reportedly negotiated a $25 million payout to leave the series. Executives had hoped he would 'go quietly,' Page Six reported

Harrison reportedly negotiated a $25 million payout to leave the series. Executives had hoped he would ‘go quietly,’ Page Six reported

The presenter was in an animated conversation on his cell phone while he took out the trash, looking deep in thought

The presenter was in an animated conversation on his cell phone while he took out the trash, looking deep in thought

Harrison did not pause his conversation while he emptied his trash

Harrison did not pause his conversation while he emptied his trash

Harrison has lived in the Westlake Village area since at least 2009, when People magazine featured his four-bedroom home

Harrison has lived in the Westlake Village area since at least 2009, when People magazine featured his four-bedroom home

The father-of-two lives with his girlfriend Lauren Zima, 33, an Entertainment Tonight presenter

The father-of-two lives with his girlfriend Lauren Zima, 33, an Entertainment Tonight presenter

Harrison hired a prominent Los Angeles-based lawyer to argue his case while separating from the Bachelor franchise

Harrison hired a prominent Los Angeles-based lawyer to argue his case while separating from the Bachelor franchise

Harrison has said that he does not know what his next move will be. Former contestant Colton Underwood wished him well

Harrison has said that he does not know what his next move will be. Former contestant Colton Underwood wished him well

Attention now turns to who will succeed Harrison as Bachelor host

Attention now turns to who will succeed Harrison as Bachelor host

The Dallas-born host looked deep in thought on Wednesday as he took out the trash

The Dallas-born host looked deep in thought on Wednesday as he took out the trash

Harrison said that he had had 'an incredible run as host of The Bachelor franchise' and said he was excited for the future

Harrison said that he had had ‘an incredible run as host of The Bachelor franchise’ and said he was excited for the future

‘I’ve had a truly incredible run as host of The Bachelor franchise and now I’m excited to start a new chapter,’ he announced on Wednesday.

‘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.’

Harrison allegedly demanded a $25 million payout to leave the franchise, threatening that he would air 19 years of behind-the-scenes secrets in a slew of lawsuits against the its producers and executives.

Sources familiar with negotiations surrounding Harrison’s abrupt exit said ABC Studios had hoped he would leave ‘quickly and quietly’.

Instead, Harrison fought back.

‘He has nearly 20 years of dirt,’ an insider told Page Six . ‘Instead of handing them a rose, he was absolutely ready to hand them a lawsuit detailing all the behind-the-scenes details.

‘He knows a lot about inappropriate behavior on set: fights between contestants, misbehavior including [the] use of illegal substances while overseas and complaints from producers that were allegedly brushed under the carpet by ABC execs.’

Harrison also wrote a goodbye post thanking the 'Bachelor Nation' for 20 years of memories

Harrison also wrote a goodbye post thanking the ‘Bachelor Nation’ for 20 years of memories

Bachelor Matt James wound up choosing Kirkconnell in the season finale

Bachelor Matt James wound up choosing Kirkconnell in the season finale

Harrison’s troubles began last season after photos surfaced of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell at an Old South-themed party in 2018.

The season was supposed to be a long-overdue celebration of American racial diversity, with Matt James, 29, as the first black Bachelor. Instead, it was overshadowed by the race row.

Harrison then defended Kirkconnell in an interview with Rachel Lindsay, the first and only black Bachelorette, in which he made racially insensitive statements downplaying the photos.

Harrison stated that ‘there is a big difference’ between 2018 and 2021 and used the term ‘woke police’ to describe those who were demanding accountability.

‘We all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion’ toward Kirkconnell, he said.

‘I have seen some stuff online — this judge, jury, executioner thing, where people are tearing this girl’s life apart and diving into, like, her parents’ voting record,’ he said.

‘It’s unbelievably alarming to watch this.

‘I haven’t heard Rachael speak on this yet.

‘And until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this.’

Harrison apologized in an interview with GMA host Michael Strahan in March, saying he was 'insensitive' and 'made a mistake' (above)

Harrison apologized in an interview with GMA host Michael Strahan in March, saying he was ‘insensitive’ and ‘made a mistake’ (above)

Who will replace Chris Harrison? 

RACHEL LINDSAY

Many are hoping that Lindsay, who in 2017 was the first Bachelorette, and who clashed with Harrison about the racist party, will replace him. She currently hosts Extra.

The 36-year-old has downplayed speculation about taking over, insisting that she does not want to be seen as having engineered his departure, and does not want to be ‘muzzled’ by producers. 

MICHAEL STRAHAN

Strahan, a 49-year-old former NFL player, currently acts as one of the Good Morning America hosts, and is thought by some to have the right mix of news and celebrity background.

He interviewed Harrison in March, and asked him if his contrition was just an act to keep his $8 million-a-year job. 

EMMANUEL ACHO

Acho, another former NFL player, hosted the finale of the season when Harrison left and is a popular choice to take over.

The Nigerian-American 30-year-old is currently a Fox Sports analyst. 

 

The interview elicited a social media outcry and resulted in an apology from Kirkconnell as well as Harrison, who said that he ‘will always own a mistake’ and promised ‘to do better.’

He ‘took a break’ in February, and did not return.

Harrison apologized for his remarks in the interview with GMA host Michael Strahan in early March, admitting he was ‘insensitive’ and ‘made a mistake’ as he vowed to return to the reality show and ‘be part of the change’.

But his apology was dismissed by Strahan who suggested his contrition was just ‘surface’ and a ploy by his fellow ABC colleague to get his $8 million-a-year job back.

‘He was ready to tell the truth about how things really work over there, and he had plenty of evidence to back him up,’ Page Six’s source continued.

‘Chris Harrison’s whole life was The Bachelor and he did not want to let go.

‘He still is really sad to leave, and there have been very tough and very heated negotiations going on for weeks.’

Harrison is now walking away from the franchise he has hosted for 19 years with a mid eight-figure payout, Deadline first reported on Tuesday, although sources familiar with the negotiations said it is not as high as the $25million he demanded.

The payout came with a promise to ‘keep his mouth shut’, per Deadline.

Representing Harrison in the negotiations was prominent Los Angeles lawyer Bryan Freedman, who had previously represented The Bachelor creator and executive producer Mike Fleiss’ wife in their divorce when she claimed he was abusive.

Laura Kaeppeler Fleiss, a former Miss America, later withdrew her complaint and received a $10 million settlement.

‘Chris Harrison hired Bryan Freedman, who represented Mike Fleiss’ wife, which immediately set an aggressive playing field,’ a second source told Page Six.

‘It was a bunch of emotionally-charged men in a room who were not happy with each other at all.’

Warner Media and ABC Entertainment confirmed Harrison’s departure in a statement after Deadline broke the news.

‘Chris Harrison is stepping aside as host of The Bachelor franchise,’ the producers told Fox News in a statement.

‘We are thankful for his many contributions over the past 20 years and wish him all the best on his new journey.’

Former Bachelor Colton Underwood gave Harrison his support, posting a tribute on his Instagram story and calling him a ‘Grade A human being.’

‘Thank you for being a friend, a stand up guy and a hell of a host,’ Underwood wrote. ‘Can’t wait to see what you do next.’

Last week, executives announced a rotating list of hosts for the franchise’s summer show, Bachelor in Paradise.

Kirkconnell, meanwhile, received the final rose from Bachelor Matt James in the March 15 season finale, but in the ‘After the Rose’ special that night, James said he had cut things off.

The couple is now ‘trying to make it work,’ James told the Wall Street Journal last month, and are now planning to move in together, according to Page Six .

Former Bachelor Colton Underwood, right, posted a tribute to longtime host Chris Harrison, left, on Tuesday as he leaves the franchise after nearly 20 years

Former Bachelor Colton Underwood, right, posted a tribute to longtime host Chris Harrison, left, on Tuesday as he leaves the franchise after nearly 20 years

Underwood's post called Harrison a 'Grade A human being,' a 'stand up guy and a hell of a host'

Underwood’s post called Harrison a ‘Grade A human being,’ a ‘stand up guy and a hell of a host’

James was reportedly ‘hesitant to publicly and outrightly confirm’ the relationship because it was ‘still fresh and they still have issues to work through,’ an unnamed source allegedly told Page Six .

‘Rachael already faced scrutiny for her past, and now all eyes have shifted to Matt,’ the source said. ‘So he’s feeling pressure to set a good example for other black men.’

The couple was recently seen together in Miami and the Hamptons.



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