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"There are talks happening regarding Chris Harrison and his future with the show," a source tells PEOPLE

By Jodi Guglielmi
February 24, 2021 05:31 PM
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Chris Harrison
Chris Harrison
| Credit: Eric McCandless/Getty Images

The Bachelor franchise doesn't want the same mistake to happen again.

After Chris Harrison's controversial interview with Rachel Lindsay — during which he failed to denounce current contestant Rachael Kirkconnell's past racist actions — a source tells PEOPLE the network is working to make "appropriate changes."

"A lot of work is being done behind the scenes to make the appropriate changes and proper moves going forward with the franchise," says the source.

While Harrison announced earlier this month that he would be "stepping aside" from the show for an undetermined "period of time," the source says his future with the franchise is still unclear.

"There are talks happening regarding Chris Harrison and his future with the show," adds the source.

The recent controversy arose when Kirkconnell, a 24-year-old frontrunner on Matt James' season of The Bachelor, was called out for old social media posts which saw her dressed in Native American attire in costume and attending an antebellum plantation-themed college party in 2018. She has since apologized.

Harrison, 49, first addressed the situation during an interview with Lindsay on Extra. During their 14-minute, unedited conversation, he said people should have "a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion" in the wake of the resurfaced photos and questioned the "lens" of 2021 compared to 2018. After receiving backlash for his comments, Harrison issued two separate apologies.

Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison
Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison
| Credit: Noel Vasquez/Getty; ohn Fleenor via Getty

James, 29, publicly addressed the controversy on Monday, calling this time the "most challenging" of his life and condemning Kirkconnell's actions as "disappointing."

In Harrison's absence, it remains to be seen who might replace him as host of the live After the Final Rose special, the official conclusion to James' season, and potentially beyond, should he not return at all.

Lindsay told PEOPLE that she thinks former NFL linebacker and Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man host Emmanuel Acho would be "fantastic" for the position.

"[He's] very outspoken about racial injustice, for social justice, and has pretty much been the person who said, 'I can have these uncomfortable conversations, and people trust it, ' she said. "Who better to lead it? [He's] someone who's not involved with the franchise, no ties, no bias — I think it'd be great."

Matt James
Matt James

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Lindsay also said that the recent controversy — which comes amid James' historic season as the first Black Bachelor, a step forward for the franchise in terms of diversity — has shed even more light on the work that still has to be done.

"I think too often we get complacent with, 'There has been some change made,' so we think, 'It's all good,'" she said. "Things are changing, but no, there still needs to be work that's done within the franchise. I think that's obvious to everyone. That's all it means, is that we've got to keep going."