James, 28, was announced as the season 25 lead on Good Morning America on Friday, June 12. For the first time, the Bachelor announcement was made before the season of The Bachelorette even began airing. Although it was supposed to begin airing last month with Crawley, 39, as the lead, ABC has not yet been able to film the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, James was originally announced as a contestant on Crawley’s season — so it came as a surprise that he’ll instead lead his own season after her journey airs, most likely in the fall.
“Clare didn’t know about Matt becoming the Bachelor until GMA announcement,” the source notes. “Decisions are still being made when it comes to her cast.”
Due to the delay in Crawley’s season, there have been discussions to recasting her group overall, since the men — who were announced publicly on March 11 — have now had the chance to speak with Crawley themselves. Additionally, as Chris Harrison recently pointed out, the same group may not be available again whenever the season does resume.
“I think where this is really great for Clare is that every guy who will be on her season will know there is no chance of becoming The Bachelor, so they should really all be there only for Clare,” ABC exec Rob Mills pointed out in an interview with Variety on Friday.
ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke also said in a statement that ABC has been getting to know James since February when they approached him about joining The Bachelorette.
“When filming couldn’t move forward as planned, we were given the benefit of time to get to know Matt and all agreed he would make a perfect Bachelor. We know we have a responsibility to make sure the love stories we’re seeing onscreen are representative of the world we live in, and we are proudly in service to our audience,” she said on Friday. “This is just the beginning, and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on this franchise. We feel so privileged to have Matt as our first black Bachelor and we cannot wait to embark on this journey with him.”
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