The show must go on for The Bachelorette—one way or another. During an appearance on the Chicks in the Office podcast, Robert Mills, head of alternative programming at ABC, discussed what exactly is going on with the upcoming season starring Clare Crawley.
Clare was announced as the new star of The Bachelorette in early March. By March 11, ABC announced the contestants for season 16, which was set to debut in May, but production was halted as the coronavirus spread across the world. With production on hold, host Chris Harrison said ABC was going back to the casting well, for men closer in age to the star who is now 39 years old, and because time commitments have changed for those previously cast. Now, the race is on to get some form of the show up and running and on TV.
"We talk about it every day. Obviously, it's super important," Mills said about The Bachelorette. "Look, I'll be honest: We will do it as soon as its safe…We want to get it on the first minute we possibly can."
Mills said they are several discussions taking place, and more concrete plans will be made when they can start testing contestants. Once they confirm everyone's health, do they keep everyone at one place? Do they travel via the road and not fly around the world? "A lot of that just changes daily. We will figure out how to get some version that reflects the world we're in as quickly as possible," he said.
Could Bachelor in Paradise come earlier? Maybe, "we're looking at all of that," Mills said.
"We definitely want to get Bachelorette in the can because we announced Clare, everyone's excited for it, there's all these plans for it, but that might take longer to logistically figure out," Mills said. Plus, the network wants to keep The Bachelor on track for January 2021.
"It will be tough, but we will definitely figure it out because we all need this—badly," Mills said.
The exec also confirmed casting is still happening, a benefit from the production delay. Many of the men were cast quickly because Clare was the last person they met with.
"We met with a lot of girls from [Peter Weber's] season…We had talked to Tia [Booth], we talked to some of [Colton Underwood's] girls…Clare was literally the last person we met with," Mills said. "We did not talk to Hannah Ann [Sluss]…I don't know that she was ready to jump into anything."