Luke Pell has been vocal about the fact that he was robbed of the role as the next star of The Bachelor, but that doesn’t mean fans have seen the last of the frontrunner from JoJo Fletcher’s Bachelorette season. Show host Chris Harrison has been doing a lot of talking about Pell, and he hasn’t ruled out the 31-year-old military veteran’s return to the ABC franchise.
There has been a huge outcry ever since Nick Viall was announced as the next leading man on The Bachelor. A #LukeforBachelor hashtag has even popped up as fans hope for a last chance to see Luke Pell headline the show.
— E! News (@enews) September 9, 2016
In an interview with E! News, Harrison assured fans that Pell could make a return to one of The Bachelor shows, despite producers’ initial concerns.
“Luke would be a great Bachelor,” Harrison told E! “You never know who could come back. He’s a great guy, a super nice guy, and we may see him next summer in Paradise [or] we may see him as the next Bachelor. Who knows?”
“Luke was great, and I think people need to understand this isn’t an indictment on Luke. We always have multiple candidates. We always keep our doors open because at the end of the day, the most important thing for us is that someone is sincere and that they are honest about coming on The Bachelor to find love…I would still say Luke would be a great bachelor, but Nick, as of right now, is our guy.”
It’s interesting that Harrison said “as of right now” when referring to the next star of The Bachelor. Many fans have been petitioning for two possible bachelors, along the lines of what was done with Kaitlyn Bristowe and Britt Nilsson last year on The Bachelorette, but Harrison said that won’t be an option for Viall and Pell because there wasn’t a 50/50 divide among producers this time. Still, something changed just ahead of the final announcement, because Luke Pell was considered a shoo-in for the job.
“Luke was definitely the frontrunner,” Harrison told Entertainment Tonight.
“It’s not an indictment on Luke that he’s not the Bachelor. That doesn’t make him a bad guy. We can just only have one person and, at the end of the day, it’s very important for us to have someone who is sincere. Who is sincerely going to go through this and, I hate to be cliche, for the right reasons try to find love? If we did make that last-minute decision to go with Nick, there’s a reason … at the end of the day, sincerity is huge to us. … Who’s ready to find love and go on this journey and who might have ulterior motives and might want to go in a different business direction with all this?”
Harrison also shared that Viall, who already tried to find love on Season 10 and 11 of The Bachelorette and Season 3 of Bachelor in Paradise, became a consideration “a little later in the game probably than normal.” He also confirmed that casting was “probably leaning towards Luke.”
So, what changed at the last minute?
An insider told ET that when it came down to it, Pell may have put too much focus on his aspirations as a country music singer. Indeed, as you can see in the video below (at the 1:50 mark), Harrison said questions were raised that Luke may not have been interested in doing the show “for the right reasons.”
There have been other reports that Pell had been dragging his feet regarding finalizing his Bachelor contracts. But Luke told Us Weekly that all contracts had been finalized and producers had even planned the intro for his Bachelor season.
“We were all satisfied, had agreed to the contracts and everything was moving forward,” Pell, told Us.
“We had planned for intro filming and had planned to have my sister come on for a date and give advice as part of the show. I met with the wardrobe guys. Everything was moving forward. Everyone on the production level was expecting it to be me, as well.”
Pell, who was the fourth place finisher on JoJo Fletcher’s season of The Bachelorette, told E! News he was blindsided by ABC’s last-minute switch to Nick Viall to star as The Bachelor.
“The decision was made apparently on Sunday, and I was supposed to fly to L.A. Monday and already had all my bags packed,” Pell said. “They called me Sunday night and said it wasn’t me.”
— E! News (@enews) September 3, 2016
Pell also revealed that he found out the identity of The Bachelor star at the same time as America did, and he felt like he deserved better than that.
“I felt like I didn’t deserve that,” Luke said of how he was treated by ABC executives.
“I don’t have a problem with it if they think that they have a better candidate for the show, that’s fine. But it’s the way that it was handled. Asking me to be genuine and authentic and open and vulnerable…and then I don’t get genuine and authentic in return from the organization.”
While Luke Pell was under the impression he had the ABC gig in the bag, Harrison told E! News it was never a done deal.
“We always have multiple candidates,” Harrison explained. “That’s usually always how it works. We always keep our doors open, because, at the end of the day, the most important thing for us is that someone is sincere and that they are honest about coming on The Bachelor to find love. At the end of the day, it got to the point where we felt like Nick was that guy.”
Fan reaction has been mixed over the producers’ polarizing pick, but Harrison told People that his team has been successful when trying to please Bachelor Nation and “give them what they want, but at the same time knowing well enough to know that we’re actually giving them what they need.”
“At the end of the day, we had some really good, viable candidates, but Nick’s sincere,” Harrison explained.
Still, not everyone is impressed. Bachelorette runner-up Robby Hayes told Us Weekly he was surprised that Viall, 35, was picked over him or Pell.
“I thought [producers] would go with someone younger, someone with a little more energy to bring to the table that, frankly, hasn’t been around the block a couple times,” Hayes said.
Luke Pell still has the support of fans of the ABC franchise. Pell’s mom also came to his defense amid speculation as to why he wasn’t cast in the starring role of the upcoming season of the ABC dating show.
As for the man who got the high-profile gig, Luke Pell says he doesn’t know Nick well, but that he hopes for the best for him as he tries for love a fourth time in front of ABC’s cameras.
“If he doesn’t work out for a fourth season, I’m sure he’d be up for a fifth season,” Luke joked.
[Image: ABC The Bachelorette Facebook]