Four months after Chris Harrison decided to step back from The Bachelor franchise following controversial comments he made in an interview with former Bachelorette star Rachel Lindsay, E! News confirms he will not return for Bachelor in Paradise season seven.
Instead, sources tell Variety he'll be replaced by a rotating cast of guest hosts, which includes comedian and Bachelor superfan David Spade. Page Six also confirmed Spade will participate in the upcoming season, set to premiere Aug. 16 on ABC.
An insider close to Harrison tells E! News he was "disappointed" by the decision, explaining, "He's been having conversations with his team and the studio and was hoping to be able to come back. He hopes his return will happen in 2022."
For now, the source says Harrison plans on "focusing on his family and staying low-key" while living in Texas.
Harrison came under fire after he defended Rachael Kirkconnell—a contestant on Matt James' season of The Bachelor and Matt's current girlfriend—after photos of her attending an antebellum-themed party in 2018 resurfaced.
In a conversation with Lindsay on Extra, Harrison argued that "Old South" parties like the one Kirkconnell attended may have been more socially acceptable three years ago. Lindsay, who was the first-ever Black lead of the Bachelorette franchise, questioned what she would represent had she attended one of these parties, which are widely criticized for glorifying the institution of slavery.
Harrison, however, felt that Kirkconnell was being unfairly attacked for the photos.
"The woke police is out there," he said in the interview. "And this poor girl Rachael, who has just been thrown to the lions, I don't know how you are equipped when you have never done this before, to be woke enough, to be eloquent enough, to be ready to handle this."
Following backlash to his comments, Harrison apologized.
"What I now realize I have done is cause harm by wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism, and for that I am so deeply sorry," he said in a statement. "I also apologize to my friend Rachel Lindsay for not listening to her better on a topic she has a first-hand understanding of, and humbly thank the members of Bachelor Nation who have reached out to me to hold me accountable. I promise to do better."
Later, he announced he was temporarily "stepping aside" from the franchise, which he has been a part of since its inception in 2002.
"The historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions," he shared. "To that end, I have consulted with Warner Bros. and ABC and will be stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special."
In March, Harrison spoke to Michael Strahan on Good Morning America about returning to the franchise in the future.
"I plan to be back and I want to be back. And I think this franchise can be an important beacon of change," he told Strahan. "I know that change is felt, not just by me, but by many others. And we are excited and willing to do the work to show that progress."
Harrison and Spade did not immediately return E! News' requests for comment. ABC and Warner Bros. declined to comment.