Chris Harrison plans return to ‘The Bachelor’ franchise

Chris Harrison spoke for the first time Thursday after his decision to step aside from “The Bachelor” franchise, and the former host of the ABC series said he hopes to return.

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Harrison, 49, spoke with “Good Morning America” co-host Michael Strahan to address his apologies for a controversial interview he had with a former star of the show.

“I plan to be back and I want to be back. This interview is not the finish line,” Harrison said on “Good Morning America.” “There is much more work to be done and I am excited to be a part of that change.”

Harrison announced on Feb. 13 that he would be leaving “The Bachelor” and its spinoffs, including “The Bachelorette,” which he had hosted since it launched on ABC in 2002, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“I am an imperfect man, I made a mistake and I own that,” Harrison told “Good Morning America” in a virtual interview. “I believe that mistake doesn’t reflect who I am or what I stand for. I am committed to progress, not just for myself, also for the franchise. And this is a franchise that has been a part of my life for the better part of 20 years and I love it.”

Harrison left the franchise after a 13-minute interview on Extra with former “Bachelorette” star Rachel Lindsay, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Harrison spoke out on behalf of Rachael Kirkconnell, a contestant who was reportedly photographed at an antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal in 2018, CNN reported.

In his interview with Lindsay on Feb. 9, Harrison said people should have “a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion” for Kirkconnell.

>> The Bachelor’ host Chris Harrison ‘stepping aside’ after controversial interview

Harrison said he has apologized to Lindsay, who has been a target online of intense harassment and bullying.

“I am saddened and shocked at how insensitive I was in that interview with Rachel Lindsay. I can’t believe I didn’t speak against antebellum parties, what they stand for,” Harrison told Strahan. “I didn’t say it then and I want to say it now: those parties are not OK, past, present, future. And I didn’t speak from my heart. And that is to say that I stand against all forms of racism, and I am deeply sorry to Rachel Lindsay and to the Black community.”

ABC announced Sunday that Emmanuel Acho will be hosting “The Bachelor: After the Final Rose” special in Harrison’s place on March 15.

“I can’t believe I didn’t speak against antebellum parties, what they stand for,” Harrison told Strahan. “I didn’t say it then and I want to say it now: Those parties are not OK, past, present, future. And I didn’t speak from my heart. And that is to say that I stand against all forms of racism, and I am deeply sorry to Rachel Lindsay and to the Black community.”

>> Emmanuel Acho steps in for Chris Harrison in ‘The Bachelor: After the Final Rose’ special

“His apology is his apology, but it felt like it got nothing more than a surface response on any of this,” Strahan told The Hollywood Reporter after the interview. “Obviously, he is the man who wants to clearly stay on the show, but only time will tell if there is any meaning behind his words.”

Harrison told Strahan he is working with “a race educator and strategist” and faith leaders and scholars like Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, People reported.

“Dr. Dyson often talks to me about counsel, not cancel. That is full accountability,” Harrison told Strahan. “Owning from that, learning from that. Seeking counsel from the community that you hurt, gaining experience knowledge and moving forward.”

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