ABC Execs Share the Fate of Every Bachelor Series as Coronavirus Halts Production
The Bachelorette could go into production later this summer, while shooting Bachelor in Paradise is "unlikely" and Summer Games has been scrapped
Warner Bros. confirmed in March that production on the new season of The Bachelorette, starring Clare Crawley and originally set to premiere May 18 on ABC, had been postponed as the U.S. grapples with the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) across the country.
In a new interview with Variety, Rob Mills, ABC's senior vice president of alternative programming, gave an update on where things stand in terms of production. Mills confirmed that Crawley's season "is happening one hundred percent," and that the only question is exactly when they will be able to safely begin shooting.
Needless to say, the timeline is still very much uncertain and all plans are subject to change, given the rapidly-shifting information concerning the virus.
"If I'm being realistic, it would probably be mid-summer that we start," Mills said, adding that the season would then likely be ready to air this fall.
The show has also, obviously, nixed international travel on Crawley's season, which will be confined within one large, quarantined location that has yet to be determined. If anything, according to Variety, road trips might be explored, but only if deemed safe and in-line with whatever social distancing regulations are in place this summer.
"We've looked at everything — are travel restrictions going to ease up? And it just doesn't look like anything is changing anytime soon, and what we would rather do is start getting the season underway, sooner rather than later," Mills said. "As of right now, the plan is to get a great location that has a ton of space where everybody could safely be together and we can still have great dates that still feel big and romantic, and we would shoot the entire season there."
And it's unclear how the show would produce the hometown dates episodes given the circumstances: "All of this is still being figured out," Mills said.
Naturally, the vibe of the season itself will likely shift as well, simply as a result of the ways in which the pandemic has changed the world.
"When people talk about reopening America, I think people freak out," host Chris Harrison told the outlet. "Even in our communities, if they said you could go to restaurants and bars tomorrow, I think we'd all be a little bit weary, so, it's going to be a little bit different. I'm sure for Clare and the men she's dating, it's going to be a little bit different. We'll have to lean into that a little bit, but hopefully not too much."
Production on Bachelor in Paradise, which shoots in Mexico and typically premieres on ABC in August, is also being affected. At this point, a new season of the spinoff seems unlikely this year, given that the network's top priorities are The Bachelorette and The Bachelor. That said, according to Variety, ABC would be open to airing the show during a different timeframe in the year if they are able to produce a new season.
"We're certainly discussing it and how it could work and if it could work, but we want to make sure that the next season of The Bachelor stays on track because that's something that everybody looks forward to at the beginning of the year," Mills said. "The goal is to make sure we absolutely have Bachelorette and Bachelor, and then, if there's a way to do Bachelor in Paradise, we would love to do it."
"It does seem extremely unlikely, as far as going to Mexico," Harrison added.
Per Variety, ABC has also put a pin in the previously announced Bachelor Summer Games (supposed to correspond with 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which have been postponed a year) and a new spinoff focused on finding love for senior citizens.
But that doesn't mean there won't be any new Bachelor programming this summer: ABC announced on Wednesday a new series that will look back at some of the most dramatic moments from the franchise in a 10-episode event. Hosted by Harrison, The Bachelor: The Most Unforgettable – Ever! premieres June 8 and will also include virtual catch-ups with fan-favorite alumni.
Speaking to PEOPLE last month, Harrison, 48, acknowledged that "like everybody," Crawley is "frustrated."
"She's safe and she's doing what she's supposed to do, but that means she's sequestered at home and she lives by herself. Bad timing for Clare," he said. "It would have been great right after. She could have been quarantined with the man of her dreams, but now she just has to sit and think about being the Bachelorette."