‘The Bachelorette’ might have to film in a different state, Chris Harrison says

The “Bachelor” mansion might be taking a breather on “The Bachelorette.” As producers work to figure out a way to film Clare Crawley‘s season while adhering to social distancing guidelines, Chris Harrison suggests that they might have to leave California altogether to get it done.

“Right now it is still up in the air as far as timing goes. The state of California just took a big step back,” the host told “Entertainment Tonight.” “Who knows what is going on, so maybe we leave. Maybe we have to go to a state that has their stuff together and we can shoot. Maybe we are doing this in Texas — I don’t know — but right now we are just waiting and seeing where we can do this safely until we can do it the right way.”

Production on Season 16 was halted the day it was scheduled to start shooting in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. “The Bachelorette” remains the priority for franchise, which has already canceled “The Bachelor Summer Games,” while summer favorite “Bachelor in Paradise’s” fate is up in the air. Producers are now looking to film the entire season in one location in late summer for a fall premiere, excising international travel completely, and with the cast and crew remaining on location for the duration of the shoot. Rob Mills, ABC’s head of alternative programming, said last week that road trips are a possibility, but they haven’t yet figured out what to do with hometown dates.

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There is precedence for the franchise shooting outside of Los Angeles: Emily Maynard‘s season of “The Bachelorette” in 2012 was filmed in her hometown of Charlotte, N.C., to accommodate her and her daughter.

Harrison emphasized that “The Bachelorette” would only film if, pending improved conditions, they could make a version of the show that Bachelor Nation knows and loves. In order words, “The Zoom Bachelorette” won’t fly.

“I think whatever you do, we are not going to be back to normal flying around the world and just doing what we want, but I think there is a happy medium. I just don’t want to lean into the quarantine and be like, ‘Hey, this is the quarantine edition — we are doing it all via Zoom.’ That is not what the show is about. It’s not what people are watching it for,” he said. “We have talked about maybe going to one location and lock it down or maybe we can only travel a little bit. We are just throwing out ideas, nothing is definitive. But I still want it to look like ‘The Bachelor.’ I want it to look like ‘The Bachelorette,’ so people realize, ‘This is my show. OK, I can escape, I could fall into this.'”

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If Crawley’s season does get off the ground in the summer, it could run up against the next season of “The Bachelor,” which usually films from September to November for a January premiere. That would theoretically take her suitors — the show is in the middle of recasting — out of the running to be the Bachelor. But Harrison isn’t thinking that far ahead yet.

“I know our ‘Bachelor’ schedule — we shoot in the fall and it airs in the winter, so there actually is a big gap in there because we try to be kind to everybody and we get done right before Thanksgiving and so we can all have a break with our families,” he said, adding that they did once film over the holiday. “So, we can shift things considerably.”

“We do have that gap, so what does that mean for [‘Bachelor in Paradise’]? I don’t know. Do we have to leapfrog over it? I don’t know, that’ll be for the powers that be, and it’ll go above my pay grade,” he added. “But I know ‘Bachelorette’ is our primary focus, and then we’ll see where we are. Maybe we have a great setup and we’re like, ‘OK, let’s go into ‘Bachelor.’ But we don’t have a Bachelor yet, so we’ll have to see.”

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