You don't have to wait until the next incarnation of The Bachelor to see Chris Harrison on your TV again. The host/matchmaker has paired with Dancing with the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba to anchor TV Guide Network's red carpet coverage, starting with September's Emmy Awards. "What most people don't know is that this goes back to my true passion — live TV," Harrison, who also hosts Hollywood 411, tells TVGuide.com. "I started there as a local sportscaster in Oklahoma City and that will always be my love. It's kind of what I live for." But how does red-carpet coverage compare to his Bachelor/ette duties? Find out, and see what Harrison has to say about the Bachelorette finale and why a Friend should be the next Bachelor.
TVGuide.com: I've seen you in the Dancing audience a few times, but do you know Carrie Ann well?
Chris Harrison: I do. I instantly fell in love with her [when we did the American Music Awards preshow last year]. When TV Guide [approached me for a recommendation,] the first person I said was Carrie Ann. I don't know if people know her in this light as much, but they will and they will love her. She's a great talent. She's professional. We're going to have ideas and goals for the show in that we're not the show. Unfortunately, that's a rare talent on the red carpet! [Laughs] Too many people make it about themselves. It should be about Brad and Angelina, and Steve Carell. It shouldn't be about you and trying to see where the next funny line's going to come from.
TVGuide.com: What's harder: hosting The Bachelor or hosting live coverage? You ask the guys and girls on The Bachelor and Bachelorette a lot of difficult questions.
Harrison: It depends. If it's Jason, Molly and Melissa, then... [Laughs]. On an average day, definitely the red carpet. There are times where you have to push where you know it's uncomfortable [on the Bachelor/ette], especially since I'm friends with a lot of them and you're asking about the Fantasy Suite. I mean, I really don't want to know! But I know billions of women would choke me to death if I don't ask. The red carpet rarely calls for that uncomfortable, hard-hitting question.
TVGuide.com: Do you warn them you're going to ask an uncomfortable question?
Harrison: If it's a special, I would've talked to them about it. I know people think it's crazy, but I'm really not trying to shock them. I wouldn't ambush a friend. The other day, Melissa was very leery about talking about Jason and I went into her dressing room and said: "Look, we have to talk about it. It's the same stage we were on. We have to reset the stage. We don't have to revise history, but we have to at least touch on what happened." So I talked her through it and we came to an understanding.
TVGuide.com: Did you ever think you'd both be in the same line of work now?
Harrison: [Laughs] Never in a million years! That's another thing I told her, like don't forget a year ago no one knew who you were. Don't get too big of a head or attitude. A lot of people forget that. I call it the American Idol Syndrome. People want to forget about Idol and act like they didn't come from there when they really should embrace it and be proud.
TVGuide.com: Jason and Molly are still together, and a lot of people think Jillian and Ed will last. What do you think?
Harrison: Jason and Molly, I think they're prepared to make the move. I think she's heading out to Seattle pretty soon. I wouldn't be surprised if they got married within a year. I think Jillian and Ed are going to make it. I've seen them a lot in the past 10 weeks and they're doing great. She's getting ready to move to Chicago. They're just a sweet couple. They don't seem like a TV couple at all. They seem like an old soul and meant-to-be. I really think they're going to make this work.
TVGuide.com: The show's track record isn't very good. Do you ever feel like you've failed as a matchmaker?
Harrison: I feel like I've failed all the time. [Laughs] No. What's funny is that we've had a lot of couples together. I'm going to count Jason and Molly because it happened on the show. Jillian and Ed. Obviously Trista and Ryan are the big one because they got married and have kids, but I think we'll have more. Oddly enough, I think the show takes credit for, like, a Bob Guiney and a Rebecca Budig, and even Andrew Firestone and [his wife] Ivana. It's great a lot of these relationships have spawned off our show, but are not necessarily from our show.
TVGuide.com: Forty-one percent of our readers wanted Jillian to choose Reid. Are you surprised by that?
Harrison: You know, I'm not sure why people didn't love Ed more. Maybe he's kind of goofy or something, but Reid definitely has a lot of popularity and people are obviously clamoring for him to be the next Bachelor. I get it with Reid. He's a lovable guy. I liken him to Matthew Perry. ... He does [look like him]. He's the Chandler Bing of our show. I can see why people like him.
TVGuide.com: Why did Reid arrive in a taxi and sneakers versus the limos and suits? It was a nice disparity, like he's not supposed to be there.
Harrison: That is one thing we wanted because he wasn't supposed to be there. He was breaking in on someone else's moment. But he had just flown in that day and we told him that he could come over and it didn't have to be formal. I don't know why he wore sneakers. I'm guessing he probably regrets that because he's gotten a lot of grief, but it was pretty funny.
TVGuide.com: Since he returned, are there any rules to the show anymore?
Harrison: Yes and no. I think we've tried to relax our so-called rules. Let the real-life stuff happen, like Ed leaving for his job and coming back. OK, the economy sucks. This young man doesn't want to lose his job, so let's play it out. It's something we can all relate to. We're scared to death to lose our jobs right now. He realized that was stupid. He could always get another job, but he can't get another Jillian. I'm glad we relaxed the rules. With Reid, it took a million phone calls from him, saying not only is he willing to come back, but he's willing to go all the way with her. We can't deny that. I think the show's better for it.
TVGuide.com: How long did it take for you guys to talk and her to tell Reid?
Harrison: It was dangerous. Usually we want the final proposal right at sundown at that magic hour. Reid took so much longer than we thought. [After we talked] for 20 minutes, she gathered herself and talked to Reid for a while, then Reid left in the limo and she starts crying again. Ed's in the limo driving around Hawaii and the sun's going down. We're like, "We're dead! We're not going to get this in." Then Ed comes in and has no idea what's going on. The whole beautiful scene happened right literally at sundown.
TVGuide.com: So you're saying none of those returns were scripted.
Harrison: They weren't. We know that's the way it's going to look. [When Jake mentioned he wanted to come back,] one of the executive producers looks at me and goes, "Are you kidding me? You know we're going to get killed by everyone about this that this is the most produced, scripted idea ever." But what do we do? Do we go not let things happen because we're afraid people will think it's scripted? All we can do is let it play out and if the rumors happen, you can't fight that anymore.
TVGuide.com: Who would you prefer as the next Bachelor — someone new or someone from The Bachelorette?
Harrison: I don't have the final decision, but I think it works when you have someone come back. You have that built-in, vested interest in that person. We're also taking the pulse of America. We have a poll on ABC.com. I'm sure you guys have put polls up. It was all about Jake before, and now it seems Reid is taking over. I don't even know if any of them have been approached. ... We'll probably call all the guys. Or you could just have Matthew Perry. I wonder if Matthew Perry will get a resurgence if Reid is our Bachelor.
TVGuide.com: Matthew should do it because Courteney Cox has a new show on ABC, so you can do some crossovers. Monica can check in on Chandler.
Harrison: I know, Cougar Town. A whole tie-in! Let's test this out!
TVGuide.com: We have to talk about one last thing: the green mankini.
Harrison: Man, I don't get that. The only thing I don't get more than the mankini is the fact that Jillian likes it. Again, whatever floats her boat. I'm glad they fit together, but, man, I just don't understand the green mankini. Apparently he has more, so it's not just one. This is a growing problem. If there's one thing I can fix in the relationship, that's what I'm going to try and fix.
TVGuide.com: Do you think that was the deciding factor? She chose Ed because Reid didn't have green mankinis?
Harrison: Maybe so. That's the thing, like what, Kiptyn had too many cool board shorts? His stomach was too good? Between the tank tops and the mankini, I have some work to do with Ed.
TVGuide.com: I don't think you'll be seeing a green mankini on the Emmys red carpet.
Harrison: [Laughs] I hope not! Unless Sacha Baron Cohen wears it!