Fans hoping for Chris Harrison to return to The Bachelor were likely concerned when the longtime host hired lawyer Bryan J. Freedman amid the fallout from his controversial interview with Rachel Lindsay.
Harrison, 49, made headlines in February after he told Lindsay, 36, that viewers should have “compassion” and “grace” for Bachelor season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, who was under fire for her attending a party on a plantation in 2018 and other past racially insensitive photos.
“Is it [not] a good look in 2018 or is it not a good look in 2021?” Harrison asked the season 13 Bachelorette on Extra at the time. “My guess? These girls got dressed up and went to a party and had a great time, they were 18 years old. Now, does that make it OK? I don’t know Rachel, you tell me. Were we all looking through [that lens] in 2018?”
Amid backlash from Bachelor Nation, Harrison apologized and announced he would not be part of Matt James’ After the Final Rose special. After the finale aired in March, ABC announced the Perfect Letter author would sit out of Katie Thurston’s season 17 of The Bachelorette. He subsequently hired Freedman. Three months later — and after Us Weekly confirmed Harrison would not host Bachelor in Paradise season 7 — news broke that his leave of absence was set to become permanent. After Deadline reported that Harrison will receive an eight-figure payout from the network, a source confirmed the details of the story to Us.
Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment subsequently addressed the news of his exit, telling Us in a statement: “Chris Harrison is stepping aside as host of The Bachelor franchise. We are thankful for his many contributions over the past 20 years and wish him all the best on his new journey.”
“I’ve had a truly incredible run as host of The Bachelor franchise and now I’m excited to start a new chapter,” he captioned a photo from an After the Final Rose taping. “I’m so grateful to Bachelor Nation for all of the memories we’ve made together. While my two-decade journey is wrapping up, the friendships I’ve made will last a lifetime.”
Scroll through for what to know about Freedman: