ABC confirms ‘The Bachelorette’ is aiming for a fall premiere, but ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ is stuck in purgatory

If you’re still concerned about the fate of “The Bachelorette” in a post-coronavirus world, don’t worry. “Clare [Crawley]’s season is happening 100 percent,” Rob Mills, ABC’s head of alternative programming, told our sister site “Variety,” confirming that producers are hoping to have the 16th season ready by September.

“If I’m being realistic, it would probably be mid-summer that we start [filming],” Mills said, adding that the installment would then premiere in the fall.

Earlier this month, Reality Steve reported that producers were planning a five-week production on “The Bachelorette” in July and August at a private resort closed to the public with everyone involved getting tested for COVID-19, with an eye toward a September premiere. It would basically be “Bachelor in Quarantine,” with no international travel, and everyone will have to stay on campus.

Mills confirmed that was TPTB’s plan, but cautioned that nothing is set in stone with the unpredictability of the coronavirus. “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,” he explained. “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.”

SEE ‘The Bachelorette’ is plotting a new filming schedule that is very optimistic

Added Chris Harrison: “It would be crazy for us to say that we know what anything is going to look like — not even television, I’m just talking the world in general. We don’t know when we come out of this, what it’s going to look like as far as getting back to social distancing, can you get 10 people in a control room? Can you get 20 people in a control room? How are we going to shoot this safely?”

Should the show be able to film in the summer, there are still lots of format issues producers have to figure out. With no international travel, road trips are a possibility, so long as they comply with social distancing rules. And what about hometown dates? “All of this is still being figured out,” Mills said.

Production on “The Bachelorette” was shut down in March on the day it was supposed to start. Since nothing has been shot, the postponement has allowed producers to continue casting, after 39-year-old Crawley’s original cast of 32 suitors was criticized by fans for skewing young (23 of them are in their 20s).

In a typical year, “The Bachelorette” films from March to May for a May premiere. The franchise then heads to Mexico for summer hit “Bachelor in Paradise,” which usually premieres in August, but is now looking less and less likely it’s going to happen this year — at least in the summer; Mills said ABC is open to airing “Paradise” at another time in the year if it’s able to be produced.

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“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,” he 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 noted.

ABC has already canceled “The Bachelor Summer Games,” its Olympics counterprogramming, after the Tokyo Olympics were pushed to 2021. Also on the backburner is the senior citizens spin-off, which had started casting and was initially considered for a fall premiere. “Now, there’s a pin in that,” Mills shared.

In the interim, to fill ABC’s scheduling gaps and satiate fans’ appetite, “The Bachelor” will air a 10-week retrospective series, “The Bachelor: The Most Unforgettable — Ever!” starting Monday, June 8.

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