Bachelor host Chris Harrison knows he has a lot of defending to do when it comes to the recent decision that named Brad Womack the next Bachelor. Brad notoriously dumped both DeAnna Pappas and Jenni Croft during the Season 11 finale, but Harrison tells TVGuide.com that Brad knows he was a jerk and after therapy and time, is ready for a second shot at love. Harrison explains why fan favorite Chris L. isn't starring in the next installment, how Brad has changed since we last saw him and what Harrison promises to do if the season ends in another failure.
TVGuide.com: Why isn't Chris L. the Bachelor?
Chris Harrison: Ali's season ended phenomenally with Chris L. as the No. 2 guy and our immediate thought was obviously Chris L.'s the guy. The more he kept thinking about it and we kept thinking about it, he realized he wasn't going to be right for it. A great guy, which Chris L. is, doesn't necessarily make a great bachelor. I think he realized it, we realized it we and ultimately decided to go our separate ways.
TVGuide.com: What about Ty?
Harrison: If you use someone from last year's show, it needed to be Chris. He's not going to do it so it's like, "You asked for it, you got it, it's ... Ty." That didn't feel right.
TVGuide.com: So when did Brad come into the picture?
Harrison: He called us about [a year ago] wanting to come back and everybody's reaction was: We're not sure it's right. [But] we didn't blow him off. At the same time, the producers talking to Brad have been saying, "This guy is for real, we believe in him." The timing just seemed perfect. It's not going to be Chris L. What do we do?
TVGuide.com: Why do you think he'll make a better Bachelor this time around?
Harrison: The opportunity was there to do something different and that's what Brad was. He's a good guy and I want to believe that he has absolutely changed and is ready to come back and do this. It's really hard to say you've changed and it took awhile for us to believe him and I know it'll take time for viewers to believe him. But I think you'll quickly see he's very different. He's more emotional, he wears his heart on his sleeve. I also love the fact that the woman didn't know Brad was the bachelor, but as soon as they come in, they know who he is. And they were skeptical and had hard-hitting questions for him. They put him on the line and he has to immediately answer for what he did and he self-admitted in the first episode, "I was a jerk." He screwed up and he knows that.
TVGuide.com: Are you worried about alienating fans who are displeased with this decision?
Harrison: Of course. Every Monday night I'm sleepless before I get up Tuesday and find that the same people that watched [last week] are back again. You can never take for granted that people are going to watch our show; the moment you do, you're dead. Even though there is some backlash to this decision, there is still a lot of interest. It's been one of the most talked-about decisions we've made. Some of that, maybe even the majority right now, is negative and against it or at least skeptical of him, but if we had gone with a real estate agent from New Mexico? Would anyone have cared? As much as people will scream and say, "I'm never watching again" or "I don't like Brad," people are going to show up to sample what this guy is all about. Then it's up to Brad and the producers and storytellers to create a good show and draw you in.
TVGuide.com: What made him want to come back?
Harrison: He went into this three years ago fully believing he was that guy and ready to go. It wasn't until he realized later [he] was not ready to fall in love. Now he's come back and is that guy and is ready. He believes that this is a great place to find a wife. He said, "I've lived in Austin, I'm still not finding and meeting the right people, and you guys set me up and I screwed it up so give me a chance." He fully believes his wife is in there.
TVGuide.com: I wasn't seeing things on Monday, but Jonathan "Weatherman" was in the Dancing with the Stars audience, right?
Harrison: One of the execs said, "Wouldn't it be funny if we had Weatherman sit next to you and then we'll slip Brad in?" Jonathan was a good sport but halfway through I was like, "Nobody's going to do anything" and then I took out my phone and was like, "Dude, you're not going to believe this." We even fooled Ali.
TVGuide.com: Give me your last plea for people to tune in to Brad's season.
Harrison: Just know the women on the show are as skeptical as you are. ... He knows he not only has to prove himself to the women, he has to prove himself to America. And if he lets us down again, I promise I will hold him down while you stomp on him with your high heels.