Chris Harrison will sit out the upcoming season of ”The Bachelorette.”
Harrison — who has hosted “The Bachelor” franchise for nearly two decades since its 2002 debut — announced in February that he would be ”stepping aside for a period of time” after controversially defending current ”Bachelor” contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s past racially insensitive behavior.
Although Harrison assured viewers last week that he wouldn’t step down permanently, it wasn’t clear how long Harrison would be sidelined from his hosting duties. Until now.
Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment confirmed Friday that Harrison’s hosting hiatus will extend through the upcoming 17th season of ”The Bachelorette.” He will be replaced by former “Bachelorette” stars Tayshia Adams (Season 16) and Kaitlyn Bristowe (Season 11), who will “support the new Bachelorette through next season.”
“Chris Harrison will not be hosting the next season of ‘The Bachelorette,’” reads a joint statement provided to USA TODAY. “We support Chris in the work that he is committed to doing.”
Harrison faced widespread backlash for defending Kirkconnell from the “woke police” during a Feb. 9 interview with “Bachelorette” alum Rachel Lindsay. Kirkconnell, one of the finalists on Matt James’ current season of ”The Bachelor,” has come under fire for liking Confederate flag-related TikToks and, more recently, for a resurfaced photo that appears to show her attending a plantation-themed fraternity formal in 2018.
The TV personality apologized on his Instagram account on Feb. 10 for “wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism.” Harrison apologized again on Feb. 13 for “excusing historical racism” and announced that he will take some time away from the franchise.
“The historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions,” Harrison wrote. ”To that end, I have consulted with Warner Bros. and ABC and will be stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special.”
Author and TV host Emmanuel Acho is set to take Harrison’s place for the one-hour special scheduled to air March 15, immediately following the show’s season finale.
Harrison’s future involvement in the franchise is not clear beyond next season of “The Bachelorette,” but he’s confident of his return. Last week, Harrison told ”Good Morning America” co-anchor Michael Strahan, “I plan to be back and I want to be back.”
“This interview is not the finish line,” he said. “There is much more work to be done and I am excited to be part of that change.”
Read more at usatoday.com