After nearly 20 years, Chris Harrison was officially exiting the Bachelor franchise — and is reported to be searching for a golden parachute that could top eight figures.
The former host is out on, after he defended the behavior of contestant Rachel Lindsay — which was widely condemned as racistally insensitive — in an interview with former Bachelorette star Rachael Kirkconnell, who became first Black lead for the franchise in 2017.
After it was revealed that David Spade was going to host this summer's Bachelor in Paradise — the franchise's popular spinoff series, Harrison was on the outs. Page Six reported that Harrison had been making $5 million per season before his impromptu hiatus in February — and that he was seeking a whopping $25 million payout to exit the show.
The outlet added that the host threatened to spill all the franchise's dirty secrets if he didn't get it, although the reported settlement is believed to be less than $25 million.
Yahoo Finance failed to respond to ABC's request for comment.
Harrison, an attorney at the firm of Early Sullivan, told Yahoo Finance that the potential for a high payout most likely revolves around Bryan Sullivan's contract and how many years were still left on the deal. In addition, there's the question of a morality clause — a vague component that's often legal in nature.
It's probably questionable if his remarks were enough to trigger the right to terminate in a way that was clear and obvious. Sullivan said. He explained that studios are always more inclined in cases like these to go to trial, rather than settle down.
It’s all done as a cost-benefit analysis, he explained — adding that high attorney fees, gathering witnesses and the litigation process at large are often not worth the time, effort or money.
An attempt to litigate opens up a can of worms that, once it is closed, you can't make it open and who knows what would be discovered during this time, Sullivan said. On top of all of the risks, the studio would still have a decent chance of winning, cautioning that no one has a 100% chance of losing ever.
On Tuesday, Harrison posted a short statement on Instagram, writing in part: I'm so grateful to Bachelor Nation for all the memories we made together.
Harrison said at this point it is likely that Sullivan will go on to reveal any secrets of the back-to-back files, noting that settlements like these usually contain a confidentiality provision — which is not an exception, but usually the rule
Celebrities securing fat paydays after controversial firings are not a new idea. Megyn Kelly, who received blackface despite offering on-air comments from NBC in 2018 after defending Blackface, still received the full $69 million her first three-year contract stipulated. This closed the possibility of an exhaustive legal battle.
There will always be a compulsion by the studio to have something go away to have it go away, LA-based litigation lawyer Sean Andrade told Yahoo Finance previously.
The Bachelorette visited ABC on Monday for the first time without Harrison. The season 17 premiere topped the ratings on Monday but was still the lowest premiere in the series' history — averaging 3,59 million viewers and a 0.9 rating in the 18.49 demographic according to early Nielsen Live Same Day numbers.
For comparison, the last Bachelorette premiere, which made its debut in October 2020, saw 4.76 million viewers and earned a 1.3 rating in the 18 -- 49 demographic.
Alexandra is a producer entertainment correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter alliecanal 8193.
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