Everything to know about Clare Crawley’s season of ‘The Bachelorette’

In a normal year, “The Bachelorette” would’ve premiered by now and its star would be engaged IRL and trying to keep it under wraps until the finale airs. But there is nothing normal about 2020. Production on Season 16 was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic just when it was about to start in March, but it’s finally about to start filming this summer.

Here’s everything to know so far about the upcoming season.

It stars Clare Crawley, the oldest Bachelorette ever
So the basics: If you’re unfamiliar with Crawley, she read Juan Pablo Galavis, the worst Bachelor ever, the riot act when he callously dumped her (after making a crude remark on their final date and slut-shaming her during the season) in the Season 18 finale of “The Bachelor” in 2014. She’s since appeared on “The Bachelor Winter Games” and two seasons of “Bachelor in Paradise.” At 39, the hairdresser is the oldest Bachelorette lead and just the third one in her 30s after Trista Rehn and Rachel Lindsay, who were 30 and 31, respectively.

Production was postponed the day it was supposed to begin
Warner Bros., which produces the show, suspended production on all its shows on Friday, March 13, hours before cameras were scheduled to roll to capture Crawley meeting her men. “With the rapidly changing events related to COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, Warner Bros. Television Group is halting production on some of our 70-plus series and pilots currently filming or about to begin,” Warner Bros. Television Group said in a statement.

SEE Chris Harrison says ‘The Bachelorette’ will address coronavirus… whenever it can start filming

Production is scheduled to start mid-July with a new game plan
Warner Bros. confirmed on June 26 that production will start soon. Rob Mills, ABC’s head of alternative programming, and host Chris Harrison had previously stated that the new plan is to film Season 16 over several weeks mid-summer in a closed-off resort for a fall premiere. (A normal “Bachelorette” season films from March to May and premieres mid-May —  this season was originally scheduled to bow on May 18.) The plan is for the cast and crew to be quarantined before filming and tested for COVID-19, there would be no international travel, and everyone would stay on location for the duration of the shoot and undergo regular testing and temperature checks. ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke said on June 17 that the pitch had been presented to Warner Bros. and the government for approval.

According to Reality Steve, the location is the Ritz-Carlton in Rancho Mirage, California, aka the hotel where Rehn and Ryan Sutter wed, and the cast and crew are scheduled to arrive July 9-10, will quarantine for a week, and filming is expected to begin July 17. The resort’s booking calendar has been blocked off from June 26 through Aug. 27.

Her suitors have been announced…

The 32 men vying for Crawley’s heart were revealed in March, a week after Crawley’s casting was announced. The group features 23 men in their 20s — including a 23-year-old — eight in their 30s and one in his 40s. Matt James, the roommate and BFF of Season 15 runner-up Tyler Cameron, was one of them.

… but James is now the new Bachelor
In June, following demands from fans and alums for the franchise to fix its race problem, James was announced as the first black lead of “The Bachelor,” which means he will no longer compete for Crawley’s heart. James had still planned on doing “The Bachelorette” even after Crawley stirred drama in April after she seemingly subtweeted James when she chided contestants for “doing interviews and creating Cameo accounts before you are even on my season… you are in it for the wrong reasons.” She slightly walked back her comments after Bachelor Nation pointed out that James had been doing press and created a Cameo account for various charities, including his own ABC Food Tours. The proceeds from his Cameos are going to charity, which he reiterated in an Instagram Story clearly in response to Crawley’s tweets.

At the time, Harrison said that James was still a contestant “as far as I know.” After he was cast as the Bachelor, James said his first reaction was, “does this mean I don’t get to meet Clare?”

James won’t be the only OG contestant gone because the show has been recasting during the shutdown
After Crawley encouraged men to continue to apply and because nothing had been shot, Harrison confirmed they were “still casting” because it’d be unrealistic to expect all of the OG 32 men to be available/put their lives on hold again whenever they can film. The show had also endured backlash from fans for assembling a very young cast for a 39-year-old woman. While Mills noted that Crawley herself has said she usually dates younger men, he attributed the young group to the late (and surprise) announcement of Crawley as the lead, which came 11 days before production was scheduled to start. Most men had already applied under the assumption that one of Peter Weber‘s jilted (and young) women from “The Bachelor” would be the Bachelorette.

“That is one of the things about the delay that’s really good about this that we can do — is that we can get more guys, hopefully, that will come out,” Mills said on the “Chicks in the Office” podcast. “There’s been a lot of guys applying, so that’s been the one positive about this whole thing.”

SEE Meet the 32 men after Clare Crawley’s heart on ‘The Bachelorette’

It is scheduled to air in the fall on Tuesdays
On June 17, ABC slotted “The Bachelorette” on Tuesdays at 8/7c instead of its usual Monday night, on which regular fall inhabitant “Dancing with the Stars” has dibs.

“The Bachelorette” is a priority for TPTB
ABC has already canceled “The Bachelor Summer Games,” its Olympics counterprogramming, after the Tokyo Olympics were pushed to 2021. But don’t worry, Season 16 of “The Bachelorette” will happen — Harrison and Mills have said the show and “The Bachelor,” which would typically start production in the fall for a January premiere, are the top priorities for the franchise. Less pressing is summer favorite “Bachelor in Paradise,” which could return sometime this year depending on the timeline.

“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,” Mills said.

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