Did spoilers spoil 'The Bachelorette'?
As Monday evening approached, Ali Fedotowsky, this season’s “Bachelorette,” was still busy doing the media rounds promoting the reality show’s dramatic finale episode. Only hours before the finale, she played coy in interviews, dropping hints about the fate of her love life.
Would she get engaged to Roberto Martinez, a professional baseball player with charming dimples? Or might she receive a pricey Neil Lang diamond ring from Chris Lambton, the shy Cape Cod native still grieving over the recent death of his mother?
Perhaps she’d even dump them both on national television, ending up single after a months-long quest for love.
Of course, millions of viewers would later learn that Fedotowsky had chosen Martinez, who sweetly got down on one knee to ask for the 25-year-old’s hand in marriage.
But chances are, if you’re a hardcore fan of the ABC show – or even a more casual viewer – you had a good idea before the finale aired that the two lovebirds would end up together.
It’s not unusual for there to be some speculation about the outcome of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” by the end of the show’s season. But this year, during the sixth iteration of “The Bachelorette,” rumors about Fedotowsky’s future reached a fever pitch -- putting a damper on the show's once-secretive finale.
In recent weeks, the sunny blond has graced the cover of almost every major celebrity tabloid – making it nearly impossible to check out at the grocery store without learning of her potential destiny.
“Secrets of the Proposal – Ali’s Engaged!” read a revealing US Weekly headline on the cover of the magazine’s most recent issue. People magazine was only slightly more vague, quoting Fedotowsky on its cover with the leading headline: “Why I Broke the Rules.”
“It is a little bit crazy -- every week you walk into Target and see Ali on the cover of all the magazines,” said DeAnna Pappas, who was rejected on the 11th season of “The Bachelor” and went on to become “The Bachelorette” in 2008. “It’s almost like now there’s someone on the inside leaking stuff. But it’s a pretty tight group. Even the people on the show sign a 10-year contract and get sued if they talk about anything.”
Clearly, however, there is a mole.And Steve Carbone, who has been blogging about “The Bachelorette” since 2003, has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the tattle-taling. Last year, during the 13th season of “The Bachelor,” he got a call from an anonymous source who revealed some jaw-dropping news: During the show’s “After the Final Rose” special, “Bachelor” Jason Mesnick was going to dump his then-fiancee Melissa Rycroft and tell her that he still had feelings for runner-up Molly Malaney. Carbone posted a detailed account of the report, and when it turned out to be true, new readers began flocking to his site.
Ever since, fans of the show have returned to read spoilers about new seasons. This year, in advance of the new “Bachelorette” season, Carbone accurately revealed what would happen on each and every episode (minus the finale, which he only got word about early Monday).
“I have new sources every season,” said Carbone, who works for his father’s sales business but has recently begun collecting secondary income from the advertising on his blog. “A lot of people think I’m involved with the production or that I work for [producer] Mike Fleiss. ABC has currently hired a private investigator to interview 400 contestants and find out who the mole is.”
ABC declined to comment for this article, and said that Fleiss, Fedotowsky and host Chris Harrison were not available for interviews. Arguably, the network doesn't need to respond to the spoilers -- after all, the speculation doesn't really seem to be affecting viewership. Over 10 million people tuned in to one recent episode, a higher number than for most "Bachelorette" seasons.
Still, in other ways, it's clear the spoilers have been affecting the show. In past seasons, the show’s shocking twists and turns have been kept under wraps until the last possible moment. But during Fedotowsky’s season, surprising moments have been teased in previews weeks before the episodes air. Viewers knew early on in the season, for example, that one of Fedotowsky’s favorite suitors, Frank Neuschaefer, would reveal he still had feelings for an ex-girlfriend.
The overly revealing commercials have bothered some of the show’s fans. In a recent issue of “Entertainment Weekly,” Harrison was even asked “Why are ‘The Bachelorette’ previews giving away so much this season?”
“Honestly, I don’t love that either,” Harrison responded. "Because there have been some spoilers out, we’ve gotten a little liberal with giving things away. But I hate that we could be ruining it for anyone.”
Some magazines seem less concerned with spoiling the ending for the show’s fans. Melanie Bromley, the West Coast bureau chief of US Weekly, said the recent article declaring Fedotowsky’s engagement was meant to give readers “insight into what’s really going on behind the scenes” without giving too much away. (Though the article said Fedotowsky would end the show with a ring on her finger, it only referred to the two finalists as “Bachelor 1” and “Bachelor 2.”)
“We’ve had the information that we published this week for a very long time,” Bromley said. “We’ve really made a concerted effort to wait until the very last minute.”
According to Kate Coyne, a senior editor at People magazine, contestants on "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" draw immense reader interest -- "they're probably second only to Kate Gosselin in the reality TV world," she said.
So why haven't other reality shows, like the ever popular "Survivor," been subject to such intense rumors?
“I think if spoiling the end of ‘Survivor’ could sell millions of magazines, someone would spoil it," Coyne said. "But people aren’t as invested in the outcome of ‘Survivor.' Do people care as much about who is going to bring home a million-dollar prize? It's not about love. People want to know if Ali is going to have her heart broken or live happily ever after."
-- Amy Kaufman
Photo: Ali Fedotowsky chose Roberto Martinez on the final episode of this season's "Bachelorette;" she appears on a recent US Weekly magazine cover. Credit: ABC, US Weekly.