Category: Amy Kaufman

'The Bachelorette' recap: Emily's true love -- Dolly Parton?

Dolly Parton on "The Bachelorette"

OK, so this was the least painful episode of "The Bachelorette" yet this season. But it included a visit to Dollywood. So, obviously.

That's right. Dolly Parton herself made an appearance on "The Bach" this week, and her glitter and ample cleavage and bedazzled gloves temporarily made this season bearable. Unlike the men vying for Emily's affection, Dolly was also the only person capable of bringing some personality out of our leading lady. 

In case you missed it, Emily is from North Carolina, which means she listens exclusively to country music like Gloriana and Luke Bryan and other people you've barely heard of who need to plug a new album on the show. It also means that she worships Dolly Parton and grew up visiting the musician's Tennessee theme park, Dollywood. So on her one-on-one date with race-car driver Arie — totally my new fave, by the way — the pair flew to the park. They played carnival games to win prizes for Ricki Tick, obv. Emily white-knuckled her way through a roller-coaster ride. And then they visited the old theater on the premises where — shocker! — Dolly walked out in some killer boots and surprised the couple on stage.

Emily proceeded to freak out, acting for the first time all season like a human being while repeating "I could die" 3,000 times and covering her mouth in awe. 

"Surprised? At Dollywood?" Dolly asked Emily, shocked that she didn't pick up on the beyond-obvious setup.

Dolly then lived up to every little girl's dream by acting like the coolest fairy godmother ever, asking Emily to sit down for a "girl chat" and imparting her wisdom about her 45-year marriage. Poor Arie was totally overshadowed, but redeemed himself later that night at dinner by playing right into her father fantasy. Oh, yes, Arie had dated a woman with not one but two children, and when they broke up he didn't miss his ex, he just missed her kids. You could practically see Emily salivating at the mouth.

"I don't have a whole lot of talents," she smiled. "But I am a good mom."

Really selling yourself there, sweetheart. Vom.

Anyway, Emily and Arie appear to have the most chemistry so far, and I like that he doesn't look as if he's on steroids or cry in alleyways because he misses his kid. Oh, right. That happened. Single-dad Tony left a group date to fret over leaving his 5-year-old son behind for the show. In theory, that's sweet. Except that when he called his kid, the boy barely seemed to register that daddio was gone and seemed confused by a game in which Tony referred to himself as Joker and his son as Batman. 

"Do you miss daddy at all? Do you miss me, buddy?" Tony pleaded desperately into the cellphone, welling up and pressing his head against the dirty bricks in the alley. Thankfully, Emily sent him packing, saying "she would never be able to forgive herself" if she kept him around while he was missing his child — in other words, he was weird-looking, and dudes who cry in alleyways are unattractive. 

Miss Emily does certainly seem to know what she's searching for looks-wise, as she nearly jumped Chris' bones during their one-on-one date. Am I the only one who doesn't find this guy hunkalicious? I guess he kind of has that strong-jawed Brad Womack thing going for him, which clearly revs Emily's engine. 

"If I saw you across the bar, I would not talk to you. I would be too nervous to talk to you," she told Chris, before learning he's only 25 years old. That's right: 25. A whole year younger than Emily. Even though she said she's always dated older guys, Emily was willing to overlook Chris' youth because he's so damn good — I mean, mature. 

Meanwhile, on the episode's group date at the park, Emily — clad in quite the revealing top and shredded Daisy Dukes — brought out a group of her "friends" to size up a handful of her suitors. Most of Emily's girlfriends all looked suspiciously older than her — we're talking, like, 40 or so. In fact, one guy was so perplexed upon seeing the group of women in the park that he asked: "Are we getting manicures?"

Yes, dude. A group of nail artists are waiting to give you gel manis in the sandbox.

In retrospect, I guess that's not that bizarre of an idea, considering what actually proceeded to happen: A bunch of random children bounded onto the playground and were told to frolic with the men. That's right. Some random North Carolina residents allowed their youngsters to climb the jungle gym and hop down the slide while being chaperoned by strange men on a reality television show so Emily could witness their parenting skills. Totally normal.

Oh, this episode was just jam-packed with awkward moments. There was the time that Ryan told Emily — IN FRONT OF HER FRIENDS — that he'd be upset if she got fat after they got married. The moment when Kalon — after talking incessantly — slammed Emily down in conversation, telling her condescendingly: "I love it when you talk, but I wish you'd let me finish." 

And then there was Alessandro, whose first and final words on the show were uttered this episode: "Compromise." Oh no, nothing was lost in translation when the Brazilian told Emily he viewed taking on a wife with a kid as a compromise, since it would mean he couldn't travel for his job as a grain merchant. This is a gypsy man who sells barley and quinoa, my friends. You can't tie him down.


Full coverage of 'The Bachelorette' on Show Tracker

'The Bachelorette' recap: Even Kermit can't save bland Emily

'The Bachelorette' recap: Single mom Emily Maynard meets her men

— Amy Kaufman

Photo: Dolly Parton performs for Arie and Emily on "The Bachelorette." Credit: ABC

'The Bachelorette' recap: Even Kermit can't save bland Emily

Kermit the Frog with "Bachelorette" Emily Maynard"I've never been called 'boring' in my everyday life."

Those, my friends, were words uttered by our new "Bachelorette" Emily Maynard just last week, following the premiere of the new season when many critics labeled her too bland.

Emily, I've got news for 'ya, honey: You are boring. Painfully, horribly, soul-shatteringly boring. So boring that even the Muppets can't save you. 

Seriously, people. I've logged a lot of hours watching this show, and there were many times when I didn't think I'd be able to make it through an entire season. (Things got especially dark during the days of Jake and Vienna, but let's not bring back bad memories.) But hoo-boy, Emily is a whole different animal. I'm not sure if it's the move from Hollywood to North Carolina, or the fact that Emily, being a single mom, makes it feel like everyone is walking on eggshells, but I am not digging this season so far.

Emily's first one-on-one date with Ryan was the least excruciating part of Monday's episode, and even so, it wasn't exactly tantalizing. Ryan went over to Emily's house to bake cookies for Ricki's soccer game. He put on a flowery apron and made a misogynistic comment how he needed to "get back to being a man" after the experience. It was clear Emily had the reins on the date, however, as she proceeded to drive to Ricki's soccer game to distribute said cookies and ask Ryan to wait in the car for a good 10 minutes while he literally slurped on a leftover juice box. FUN DATE!

Things got more standard "Bachelorette" later when Emily changed into a va-va-voom red dress and picked Ryan up for dinner in a show-provided Aston Martin. When they arrived at a local North Carolina restaurant, there was a crowd of people awkwardly waiting to cheer on their "hometown hero." A red carpet had even been rolled out. 

"I feel like we're all friends," Emily said of the locals. This from the chick who says she only ventures outside her tony home to go grocery shopping or take a jewelry-making class through her church. She's a woman of the people!

Inside, Emily wasted no time before she began grilling Ryan. Wait, but what's his profession? What's his relationship with his family? Does he prefer chocolate or vanilla? No matter! Emily wants to know if this guy is ready for her to pop out 50 more babies in the next few years and settle down in good ol' North Carolina.

"I've learned that I don't like when the girl just comes to me. I have to really step out of my own comfort zone and really pursue this woman," Ryan told Emily of his dating history.
This did not fly with Princess Emily.

"You say you want to chase after a girl, but it can't be cat-and-mouse forever," she cautioned, sending him a stony glare. "That's my biggest fear going through all this — is that people will see it as a game, like, 'Oh, I won.'"

Uh, you signed up for the wrong show, sweetheart. But hey, let's forget the fact that these two have absolutely no chemistry and send them outside to dance to a country band I've never heard of. Emily says she feels like Ryan is a bit "too perfect" and reminds her of Brad — a comparison I don't think could be more off — but she gives him a rose anyway.

And then came Kermit and Miss Piggy. Yes. Despite the fact that there is no new Muppets movie to promote, the puppets popped up at a charity event Emily brought a group of guys to, and it was horrid. There were scripted bits about Miss Piggy getting jealous of Kermit eyeing Emily. Miss Piggy talked about how attractive Emily's suitors were. Chris Harrison even chimed in from the crowd with Statler.

I get it! Emily has a kid! But does that mean we have to make the entire show even more saccharine than it already is? Other things happened on the group date, but I refuse to write about them because I will not encourage this type of behavior, show producers.

Time for the next one-on-one, which was given to Joe. The pair flew off on a private jet to Emily's home state of West Virginia, where they went on a date at the historic Greenbrier Resort & Hotel. I once went on vacation there with my family, and let me assure you, it was boring. Just like Emily's date.

Over dinner, Emily set her claws into Joe, asking him about his life plan.

"In five years, I see myself happy with no regrets — and as far as career-wise and relationship-wise, at the end of this, if it's you and I standing, I'll pack my bags and go wherever you ask me to go," he explained.

Blasphemy! You don't have a specific life plan? You're willing to do what Emily wants? Goner.

Emily tried to let Joe down softly, but then she began crying because she has real emotions and can't bear to hurt anyone's feelings and is perfect. It didn't work, and he probably hates her now.

Until next week. If I haven't gouged my eyes out by then.


Full coverage of 'The Bachelorette' on Show Tracker

'Bachelorette' Emily Maynard: 'I've never been called boring'

'The Bachelorette' recap: Single mom Emily Maynard meets her men

— Amy Kaufman

Photo: Emily Maynard performs with Kermit the Frog. Credit: ABC

'Bachelorette' Emily Maynard: 'I've never been called boring'

Emily Maynard

Almost immediately after the premiere of "The Bachelorette" on Monday, fans of the show -- including yours truly -- began expressing concern about our new leading lady.

Not only does the blonde Southern Belle look like a Barbie doll, but she often seems to act like one as well. That is: She comes across as stiff, and sometimes inauthentic.

In a conference call with journalists Wednesday, Maynard responded to the criticism, saying she's "never been called 'boring' in [her] everyday life."

Maynard, 26, is the first single mother to ever be cast as "The Bachelorette"; the father of her 6-year-old daughter, Ricki, was killed in tragic plane crash just days before Maynard found out she was pregnant. Subsequently, Maynard's role as a mother is being played up heavily this season. In the opening montages of the premiere episode, we saw her spending nearly all of her free time with Ricki.

While Maynard says "there's a lot more to [her] than just being a mom," she admitted that the majority of her days are spent "just running errands and doing mom stuff." Asked what she does for fun, she said she takes a jewelry class through her church and mentors a girl at a school in a low-income neighborhood.

Meanwhile, Maynard has also taken heat for featuring her daughter on the show -- a critique that former "Bachelor" and single father Jason Mesnick largely was not subject to.

"I definitely felt like there was a little bit of a double standard with Jason," she acknowledged. "People will see that Ricki's life was not really affected at all. I got to spend a lot of time with her and take her to school and do all my mom stuff. Plus, she got to travel the world. ... She was very protected throughout the entire process."

Even though her season has now completed production, Maynard would reveal little about her romantic status.

"I am really happy," she said cheerily. "I was happy before I went on the show, but I'm really happy now, just having gone through it and just learning so much about myself."


Full coverage of 'The Bachelorette' on Show Tracker

'The Bachelorette' host: Emily's season is 'drastically different'

'The Bachelorette' recap: Single mom Emily Maynard meets her men

--Amy Kaufman

Photo: Emily Maynard is "The Bachelorette." Credit: ABC

'The Bachelorette' recap: Single-mom Emily Maynard meets her men

"Bachelorette" Emily Maynard

Heading into this season of "The Bachelorette," host Chris Harrison warned fans that the show featuring Emily Maynard would be "drastically different" than any that have come before.

Indeed, there are plenty of obvious changes: Emily, who broke off her engagement to former "Bachelor" Brad Womack last year, didn't head to the show's gaudy mansion in Hollywood to kick off her season. Instead, the program's producers allowed the blond to stay in her hometown of Charlotte, N.C. as to not uproot her 6-year-old daughter, Ricki. Emily, of course, is the first single mother ever to be at the center of "The Bachelorette"; Ricki's dad, a NASCAR driver, died in a tragic accident only days before Emily found out she was pregnant with their child.

Despite those shifts, there were still plenty of standard "Bachelorette" conventions during the show's first episode Monday night. Of course, we had a handful of contrived, gimmicky entrances from Emily's 25 would-be husbands. Lots of awkward, forced chatter at the introductory cocktail party, followed by way-too-early declarations of love for Emily after mere hours of meeting her. And just a lot of hideous facial hair.

As for Emily, even after watching her on Brad's season, I'd forgotten how drop-dead this chick is. She's like some genetically perfect Southern-belle, beauty-queen Barbie that I'm still not sure can actually exist in real life. And let's just say I thought the guys equaling her attractiveness level were, well, scant.

While Emily may have the dudes beat on the hotness scale, the majority of the men seemed far more at ease socially than she. Though the initial meetings are always slightly uncomfortable to watch, I found this season's introductions particularly excruciating. I'm sure she was nervous, but Emily barely offered up any personality while greeting the men, dropping the phrases "Awesome!" and "Gaw-lee!" three-zillion-and-a-half times.

In general, the whole vibe of the show was far less fun than usual. Listen, I get that Emily's a single mom, so we're not going to get the montage of her running on the beach and flaunting her body. But how about showing her with some friends or something? Isn't she supposedly 26 years old? The program painted her out to be a total spinster. 

There she was, telling little Ricki Tick to "get all the sugar buds" out while brushing her teeth. Playing with Ricki in the park. And then tucking Ricki in when she went to bed at 7:30. (Do kids really go to bed at 7:30?!? Golly.) Plus, all we learned about her hopes and dreams for herself is that she wants a "minivan full of babies." It just seemed a tad one-dimensional, and I wish we could have seen some of her job, or any evidence that she has a life outside of her daughter.

The guys, too, seemed even more earnest than average. Sure, there were the requisite attention-seekers — Kalon, some Richie Rich who arrived at the mansion in a helicopter, and rock-star wannabe David, whose song for Emily consisted of only one lyric: "Emily." But the majority of the men seemed relatively serious, repeatedly telling Emily how she was gorgeous and beautiful and strong and made of rays of golden sunshine. 

In a huge surprise, Emily gave the evening's first-impression rose to single-dad Doug, after he handed Emily a letter his son "wrote" for her. Yes, I am sure your 11-year-old penned an opus extolling the virtues of a woman he's never met. Doug probably has a pretty good shot of making it far this season, as does Chris. A corporate sales director from Illinois, Chris dropped numerous religious references upon meeting Emily, and when he gave her bobble heads of the two of them he'd somehow procured, she found the gag cute instead of creepy. 

Another dude Emily seemed to like was Jef, a guy with a pompadour who gets clean water to Third World countries who arrived on a skateboard. I wanted to hate this man with his terrible hair, but he actually seemed pretty sweet. My only hesitation about him for Emily is that he's relatively scrawny, and Emily seems to like the more strapping Brad-types. Like Ryan, a former professional football player. While Ryan was also having some hair problems — his locks were kind of spiked up in the middle of his head — he pulled a relatively cute stunt upon arriving: He told Emily he wrote out some notes, and then pulled a paper that read "You're so beautiful" on one side and "I'm so nervous" on the other. 

Meanwhile, I was inclined to dislike Arie, a race-car driver, because it seemed all too convenient that the show's producers would set Emily up with someone who has the same job as her late fiancé. But Arie was pretty down-to-earth, expressing his nerves and telling Emily up front about his job.

As is typical for me after the first episode of a season, I'm still not sold on our newest protagonist. While Emily may be perfectly sweet and a great mother, she didn't exactly dazzle me with her wit and charm. Still, I'm holding out hope that she isn't actually as fake as her impeccable veneers. 


Full coverage of 'The Bachelorette' on Show Tracker

The Bachelorette' host: Emily's season is 'drastically different'

'The Bachelor,' 'The Bachelorette' hit with racial discrimination suit

— Amy Kaufman

Photo: "The Bachelorette," Emily Maynard, greets her suitors on the first night of the season. Credit: ABC

'The Bachelorette' host: Emily's season is 'drastically different'

Chris Harrison and Emily Maynard
The men who compete for "The Bachelorette" often seem more interested in booze-soaked free trips to exotic locations and their 15 minutes of fame than the possibility of true love.

Not so this season, which will see the return of Emily Maynard, the Southern Belle and one-time fiancee to past "Bachelor" Brad Womack. Maynard, a 26-year-old from North Carolina, won the sympathies of viewers during Womack's season after she revealed her high school sweetheart, a race car driver, had tragically died in a plane crash. Days after his death, she learned she was pregnant with their daughter, Ricki, now six.

Because she's a single mother, the show's producers agreed to film a portion of the upcoming season in Maynard's hometown, as opposed to the infamously gaudy Bachelor pad in Los Angeles. Contestants coming onto the show were also informed that they'd be vying for Emily's affections in an effort to weed out less serious-minded contestants. The result? A season "that's drastically different than anything we've ever done," says host Chris Harrison.

"Her being a single mom definitely changed the tone," Harrison said during a conference call with journalists Wednesday. "Throughout the show, there was always just that underlying issue of, she's a mom, and is the guy ready?"

There's also less of what Harrison described as "frat-house humor" that has popped up in season's past -- less of the "superficial drama," he said.

While that may be true, the show's producers have already come under fire for casting a race car driver, Arie -- which many view as a cheap shot to provoke feelings about her late fiance. Harrison insisted that while Arie is a race car driver, he does open-wheel racing -- a far different sport than NASCAR racing, which Maynard's ex took part in.

"First of all, people need to understand that Emily loves the track. She loves racing. That is a huge part of her life and her family," Harrison said, sounding somewhat defensive.

Harrison himself has been going through an emotional period of his own, just recently announcing he is divorcing his wife of 18 years. Asked if he would consider becoming the Bachelor himself, the host had this to say:

"Getting out of a 22-year relationship and having just announced my divorce to the world, I'm thinking I wouldn't exactly be a great candidate to be The Bachelor now, or anytime soon."


'The Bachelor' and 'The Bachelorette' accused of racial bias

'The Bachelor,' 'The Bachelorette' hit with racial discrimination suit

'The Bachelor,' 'Dancing with the Stars' EPs: " Reality TV is too much of the same

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Chris Harrison and Emily Maynard during the upcoming first episode of "The Bachelorette." Credit: ABC

'The Bachelor' recap: Front-runner takes home Ben's final rose

Ben Flajnik chose Courtney Robertson on the finale

Well, that’s all she wrote, folks.

As most of “The Bachelor” nation predicted, Courtney Robertson walked away with Ben Flajnik's final rose on Monday’s night season finale. We all know what went down -- Lindzi got rejected, showed no emotion, Courtney showed up in evil black gloves and scored a Neil Lane ring -- so I’m gonna spare everyone a play-by-play. Instead, here are some final thoughts on good ol’ Benji’s trek down “Bachelor” lane:

The moral of the story? The pretty girl always wins. I wish I could say this season of “The Bachelor” warmed my jaded heart, but truthfully, it only strengthened my belief in the deepest of bad stereotypes about men. As Ben told me in an interview a few weeks ago, he purposefully requested no “models or hair and makeup people” be cast on his season. When Courtney was cast regardless of this mantra, he soon found there was more depth to her than he’d imagined a model might be able to carry. Listen, I’m not arguing with the fact that Ben and Courtney do share some weird sort of chemistry. They definitely seem genuinely into one another, and the moments when they nerd out together -- doing little dances or sledding together -- are admittedly adorable. But there’s no denying that Courtney was the most attractive woman on Ben’s season. And that automatically gave her a leg up, because Ben was willing to give her personality more of a shot. Not to mention how emotionally withholding and overtly sexual Courtney was throughout the season -- only making her further irresistible to Ben.

Recap: Five things you didn't see on the 'Women Tell All'

This was the most poorly edited season of “The Bachelor” ever. There’s never been a season in which it’s so obvious who the final pick will be. The show played up Courtney’s malicious side so much, and meanwhile barely gave any air time to Lindzi. By the time Ben was down to his final two, I still felt as if I knew nothing about Lindzi. My lack of sympathy for her only deepened when her face didn’t move for the entirety of the five minutes during which Ben was rejecting her.

I’m tired of hearing the final couples complain that the press tore them apart. Courtney, the press ripped you to shreds because you were really mean to other girls on the show. And Ben’s whole attitude -- he tweeted “no more reality TV for me” late Monday night -- irks me. I wish he’d stop acting so put upon. Dude, you signed up for the show, you’re getting paid to travel around the world and date beautiful women: Life isn’t that bad. It made me deeply sad when he began to cry on the reunion special, re-watching his proposal from last November and that “beautiful moment has been soiled by all of this” negative press. Why should it? If that moment genuinely holds meaning for him and Courtney, why is he letting tabloids bother him so much?

I don’t think Courtney and Ben are going to work out. I know, duh. But I’m not just saying that because of the track record of the show. In a weird way, I kind of do think they work as a pair, and they seem to have deep love for one another. But the fact that the negative press rattled them so deeply doesn’t bode well. Courtney seemed so insecure about their relationship status. And Ben was less than eager to take Chris Harrison up on his offer to re-propose to her. It was just reminiscent of that “After the Final Rose” episode with Emily and Brad, who were already falling out of love and trying to keep it together. Not good.

But hey, speaking of Emily, she’s up next! Is it May, yet?


Complete 'Bachelor' coverage on Show Tracker

Ben Flajnik: 'The Bachelor' editors gave me a 'raw deal' [Video]

'The Bachelor' recap: Five things you didn't see on 'Women Tell All'

--Amy Kaufman

Photo: Ben chose Courtney as his final pick on "The Bachelor." Credit: ABC

'The Bachelor' recap: Five things you didn't see on 'Women Tell All'

Courtney made an appearance on tonight's Women Tell All episode
Are your ears still ringing? Because mine certainly are, after all of the high-pitched screeching and whining that went down on tonight's "Women Tell All" episode of "The Bachelor."

There was so much talking over one another and name-calling and tear-shedding that it was difficult for me to make it through the entire two hours. Even worse, I sat through a nine-hour-long day -- yes, really -- during which the episode was filmed so I could bring you guys the behind-the-scenes dish. And frankly, I think some of it is far more interesting than what made it to air tonight.

So, without further ado, here are five things you didn't see during Monday's episode:

1. Chris Harrison almost passed out. When the show's host began the day, he told the crowd he wasn't feeling well and he apologized repeatedly for his raspy voice. It was evident he was eager to keep things moving along at a rapid pace, and seemed more annoyed than usual when the ladies began talking over one another. Then, moments after Courtney came on stage and began crying, Chris took a break. It was a perplexing time for him to depart the stage, considering Courtney had just begun to get choked up, and I assumed he'd want to milk the emotion. When he didn't return after an hour, everyone began scratching their heads -- and then, suddenly, show creator Mike Fleiss came backstage to tell a handful of journalists that Chris had fallen ill. "He almost fainted," Fleiss explained. "He had to lie down and get an IV with fluids." Like a true professional, Chris eventually made it back to the stage to finish up, albeit with a pallid appearance.

2. A private conversation between Courtney and a show producer went public. During Chris’ temporary hiatus, one of the show’s producers went over to comfort Courtney, who was clearly very distraught after being attacked by numerous ladies. I was sitting backstage with a group of other journalists, watching the taping on a remote monitor. While Chris was gone, the camera and microphones were left on on-stage, and so the press was accidentally privvy to the intimate conversation. Courtney complained she felt like a deer in the headlights, and said she’d expected at least one of the women to come to her defense.

“But I didn’t play with my hair once. Aren’t you proud?” she added.

“Yes,” the producer replied. “That was good.”

The staffer tried to distract Courtney by talking to her about the kind of cigarettes she smokes -- American Spirits, apparently -- and the model soon began to feel better.

“I’m not feeling very emotional anymore,” she said, her tears dispersing. “You made me feel better. I appreciate it.”

Then, she began to worry about coming off as too cold: “I don’t know if I can show that emotion again,” she fretted.

“You have to,” the producer said. “This is for you. [Possible spoiler alert!] This is for you and Ben.”


3. Jamie over-shared. You know Jamie, the girl who awkwardly straddled Ben and gave him an instructional kissing lesson before being sent home this season? It was bad enough that she embarrassed herself on Monday’s episode by telling Ben that she’d be his sloppy seconds if things don’t work out with his final pick. But then she began sharing very personal details about her upbringing in an effort to explain her behavior this season, and things just got awkward. She revealed she grew up in an abusive home with guns and drinking, and later gained custody of her younger siblings. “I think you’re a fabulous guy, and I really wanted to get to know you,” she told a shell-shocked Ben. “But I just felt so much pressure to hide all of that. The whole kiss thing was me trying to grab your attention.” Yikes.

4. Many of the women insinuated Ben only liked Courtney because she's a model. Samantha -- who, let’s face it, nobody even remembered before the reunion -- felt especially strong about this. When Jamie suggested that Ben’s eyes lit up any time Courtney came in, Samantha responded: “Um, yeah, because she was a model. Ben came out of this wanting to say he [slept with] a model, and that was it,” she concluded.

In an interview following the taping -- posted below --  Emily basically said the same thing, only in a more polite fashion.

“Do I think there was some draw because she was a model?” Emily mused. “I mean, there's no question. I think he's a man, and he has a penis, so that's how it's gonna go. Maybe he turned a few blind eyes. He looked away, and there she was on the cover of Fitness, and that's what he focused on.”

5. Ben complained about his "Bachelor" duties. After completing a round of interviews with the media following the "Women Tell All" show, Ben exhaled and went over to vent to a group of show insiders. "One more of these [expletive] things and I'm done," he said, likely referring to the then-impending "After the Final Rose" taping. "I have so many better things to do with my life."



Complete 'Bachelor' coverage on Show Tracker

Ben Flajnik: 'The Bachelor' editors gave me a 'raw deal' [Video]

'The Bachelor': Nicki, Kacie wonder if Ben is happy with final pick

--Amy Kaufman

Photo: Courtney walks toward Ben to see if she's his final pick in next week's episode. Credit: ABC

'The Bachelor': Nicki, Kacie wonder if Ben is happy with final pick

Kacie and Nicki talk about Bachelor Ben at the Women Tell All

Throughout this season of "The Bachelor," plenty of women tried to warn Ben Flajnik about one of the women on the show, the seemingly cruel-hearted Courtney.

Courtney, a model who is now one of the final two vying for Ben's affections, was mean to women all season long. She rubbed roses and date cards in the ladies' faces and used sex to get ahead when she snuck out one night to go skinny-dipping with Ben.

Numerous girls attempted to talk to Ben about Courtney's facade, but he typically dismissed their concerns. At the recent taping of the "Women Tell All" episode -- which airs Monday night -- many of the finalists told me they were worried Ben will ultimately end up with Courtney, and that he won't be happy as a result.

"I don't know how he feels and if he's happy or not," said Kacie, who actually flew all the way to Switzerland during last week's episode to again reiterate her feelings about Courtney to Ben. "I think initially he would have been happy with her not knowing [about how she treated the other women], but I think watching this [show] it's very hard to move past a lot of the things you've seen about somebody and hear the opinions that people have and look past those."

Once Kacie began talking, I had to ask: How could she possibly think that returning to the show after getting the boot would be a good idea?

Her explanation? Once she got back to Tennessee, she was devastated. She couldn't understand why Ben had sent her home. Normally after a break-up, she'd call or text her ex to get closure. But she obviously wasn't able to do that with Ben -- so she reached out to one of the show's producers via email.

"I wrote a producer with a random question that probably didn't make sense and he said, 'Well, what do you want to do?' " she recalled. "So it was more of a collaborative thing. Just, 'Do you want to go back and ask [Ben what happened]?' And after a day, I was like, 'Yeah, I do want answers.' "

Meanwhile, Nicki -- who was the third runner-up -- also had doubts about Courtney. As many of you have probably heard by now, the model shows up in an effort to defend herself during the Women Tell All event, and she comes across as genuinely apologetic for her actions. She cries a lot and admits she was horrible to most of the women on the show.

Shortly after Courtney's tearful appearance, Nicki told me she was still questioning Courtney's true intentions.

"Do I want to believe that she's genuine and everything she was saying was sincere? Yeah. I'm just having a hard time jumping on board right away," she said. "The Ben that I know would not go and seek out a model. That has no importance to him. I genuinely wanted to believe that he was in this to find somebody who he could click with and respected and wanted to love and vice-versa. And I guess he saw glimpses of that with her, regardless of her profession. But did she play that up and her sexuality and stuff and did that get her ahead in the game? Yeah. What can you do when you're given that? It's on a platter in front of your face."

For more behind-the-scenes details from the "Women Tell All" taping, check back here after tonight's episode airs.


Complete 'Bachelor' coverage on Show Tracker

'The Bachelor' recap: Courtney sails to final two after apology

Ben Flajnik: 'The Bachelor' editors gave me a 'raw deal' [Video]

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Ben Flajnik contemplates proposing on next week's season finale of "The Bachelor." Credit: ABC

Ben Flajnik: 'The Bachelor' editors gave me a 'raw deal' [Video]

Ben Flajnik on a date with Courtney
Ben Flajnik has taken plenty of heat during this season of "The Bachelor." 

Fans and critics -- including your's truly, of course -- have complained that the winemaker is only interested in girls with looks (e.g., Courtney, the model) and not brains (Emily, the PhD student). He's too bland, many whine. And perhaps the most common gripe: Won't this dude get a haircut already?

So when I scored an invite to attend the behind-the-scenes taping of the Women Tell All last week, I jumped at the opportunity. No matter that it'd require spending nine hours in a chilly sound stage listening to a handful of catty women scream at one another. I wanted to grill Ben on behalf of America.

As you can see in our interview below, that proved to be a bit more difficult than anticipated. Since Ben has had harsh critiques lobbed at him over the last couple of months, perhaps I shouldn't have found it surprising that he had quick, defensive answers to most of my questions. One of those most pressing, of course: Are you really expecting me to buy that Courtney's occupation didn't give her an advantage?

"The model thing was a deterrent in the beginning," Ben insisted. "I specifically told the producers before I started this, 'No models. No hair and makeup people, and no fashion.'"

OK, but then Courtney shows up, and she's drop-dead gorgeous and she is a model. That must have an impact on you, I insisted.

"They're all drop-dead gorgeous," he fired back. "That's the thing I don't understand. Take a poll -- I bet half of America thinks Kacie B. is more attractive than Courtney. They're all beautiful women."

Alrighty, then. So maybe him wanting to score a model really had nothing to do with his affinity for Courtney. Even so: Why did he ignore the many warnings from the other women about Courtney's bad attitude? 

"If we're going to speak frankly about Courtney -- I asked for specific examples from what these women were seeing, and I never got any," he explained.

Sure. But every time contestants warn the Bachelor or Bachelorette about someone on the show, they always end up being a bad person! Um, hello, Bentley?

"But are they bad people in real life?" Ben countered. "Have you met the villains from previous seasons? Do you know Bentley, do you know Michelle Money?"

Fortunately, I do not. Ben was proving to be sassier than expected, which led to this question: Why does he often come across as vanilla on television?

"I'm not that boring in real life," he said. "I'm just this laid back, calm, cool and collected guy that does not take himself very serious. You know, it's a love show. It's about love, so it's not about comedy hour and being funny and being light. I think I got a little bit of a raw deal on the fact that the other side of my personality -- the main side of my personality -- was not shown."

For more with good ol' Benji, check out the video here. And check back later in the week for interviews with Kacie B., Emily, and Nicki.


Complete 'Bachelor' coverage on Show Tracker

'The Bachelor' recap: The fake Courtney plans a fake wedding

'The Bachelor' recap: Courtney sails to final two after apology

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Ben goes on a date with Courtney, one of the two remaining women. Credit: ABC

'The Bachelor' recap: Courtney sails to final two after apology

Oh, man. Ben is totally done for.

I mean, seriously. At this point, it would be impossible for Courtney not to be the final pick, right? The only thing holding her back was her crappy attitude toward the other women over the course of the season. And in Monday’s episode, she apologized -- to Ben, not the ladies themselves, mind you -- for being mean. 

“I feel badly, and this did bring out the worst in me at times,” she acknowledged.

Uh, yeah. That whole ‘I didn’t realize strippers could play baseball’ remark about Blakeley didn’t exactly bring out your best side, sweetie. Nor did asking Kacie “how those words tasted coming out of her mouth.” Whatever that means. And who quotes “The Blind Side,” anyway?

In any case, Ben, unfortunately, has yet to see the extent of Courtney’s cruelty. As a result, apparently all she needed to do to get back in his good graces this week was acknowledge that she’d said mean things.

“The fact that she held some accountability for her actions -- I feel like we’re good in moving forward,” he concluded later in an interview.

Um, but what about the fact that she’s the kind of person who can say those things to begin with? And what if she starts acting that way again the second she’s around all of these many female friends you boast of, Ben? Ah, no matter. You’re good, right?

Before I continue, a disclaimer: I knew Nicki was being sent home. That’s because last week, I attended the taping of the Women Tell All, and she was there. I’ll have more from the reunion -- including interviews with Kacie, Emily, Nicki and yes, good ol’ Benji -- before it airs next week.

OK. Back to business. Nicki gets the first date in Switzerland, which is maybe one of the most stunning locations the show has been to in recent years. Don’t get me wrong -- I’m a fan of the finale being on a tropical island, with a little fantasy suite action in a hut suspended over the ocean. But Switzerland looked like it came straight out of a storybook with its picturesque cottages and foliage, and ringing church bells.

After pensively staring out the window on the entire flight to Switzerland, and then staring out a different one some more once he boarded a train in the country, Ben was ready to go look out yet another glass pane with Nicki. Dressed in some huge-looking leather gloves, he met her by the side of a helicopter.

“Another helicopter!” he said gleefully, proceeding to perform some kind of dorky-but-endearing jig in excitement.

It quickly became evident that the spark between Nicki and Ben was lacking as she began telling him how eager she was to move to San Francisco with him and he only replied with favorite expressions: “yeah,” “uh, huh” and “right.”

“If I’m too much too soon, let me know,” she said, beginning to pull back.

“You already dropped the l-bomb, sooo...” Ben replied. Valid point.

Lindzi, meanwhile, had yet to drop the l-bomb. But nothing like a little rappelling down a 300-foot gorge to get her in the mood! Mountain man Ben was eager to try his hand at another adventurous date, insisting it’d be a “bonding experience.” Apparently, being lowered down the gorge via rope while staring into Lindzi’s eyes did the trick for Ben.

“I’ve noticed a transformation -- you’re softer and vulnerable,” he told her after the so-called rappelling. 

I’m not sure what exactly gave Ben that impression, since Lindzi comes off as a smiling robot to me. She never seems to express any genuine emotion, and told Ben this week that putting up walls as a defense mechanism “kinda works” for her. Um, red flag much? 

Still, she managed to make it into the hot tub a whole five hours earlier than Nicki did. There, she told Ben she was hopeful the experience would end with a proposal. Oh, it will, girl. Just not to you.

That honor will go to Courtney, who of course got the only normal date this week. No helicopter ride to the edge of a cliff or gorge-dropping for her majesty, no. Courtney got to go on a pretty train ride through the scenic Swiss Alps. 

“Some kind of weird magical force pulls us together,” Ben marveled of the model. It’s called sexual chemistry, my dude. 

Still, I will admit that this week, I saw for the first time how Courtney and Ben could potentially make a good pair. They’re both weird. (That whole garden gnome skipping thing, anyone?) They have legitimate chemistry. (They were making out in front of the cheese aisle at the supermarket, folks.) And Courtney might even have the capacity to really love Ben. (“I love him so much and I don’t want to hurt him,” she insisted through tears.)

Wait, hold up. I know I didn’t just start to get sucked into the fallacy that these two have anything in store for them but a nasty break-up. I’m sorry, guys. I owe you more than that.

Just look at that whole little “Bachelorette” stunt. Truly: What. Was. That. I already wasn’t feeling good about Emily at the center of next season. I’m not a fan of the stiff, overly polite Bachelors and Bachelorettes -- you know, the Jakes and Brads of the world. Emily falls into that category. She’s all whitened teeth and Southern charm and I-don’t-kiss-on-the-first-date. And let’s be real, that’s just not that fun to watch on "The Bach."

Having Emily meet up with former Bachelorettes Ali and Ashley in advance of the season didn’t help. I could sort of get down with the whole advice-giving session during a girls'-day-out, but the whole “Titanic 3-D” promotional stunt? Really, ABC? Low. That’s low. Although I did love the image of the three ladies walking onto the Paramount lot dressed to the nines -- a.k.a. barely dressed -- with their makeup done, only to cover it all up with 3-D glasses. It all made so much sense. And like you expect me to believe they sat there for all three hours of the James Cameron epic. Puh-leeze.


Complete 'Bachelor' coverage on Show Tracker

'The Bachelor' recap: The fake Courtney plans a fake wedding

'The Bachelor' recap: Courtney plays with tarantula, weaves a web

--Amy Kaufman

Photo: Ben Flajnik is "The Bachelor." Credit: ABC

'The Bachelor' recap: After skinny-dip, Ben's under Courtney's spell

Ben Flajnik The Bachelor Episode 5 Recap

I know, I know. I had to skip last week's episode.

Weirdly enough, I was at the Sundance Film Festival just as Ben was on TV in Park City, Utah, wooing women in the snow. Ben actually flew into town to promote the episode last week, and I ran into him before a Drake concert. (He's a big fan.)

As usual, I couldn't get much out of him about his current romantic situation, but he said his life has slowly been getting back to normal, post-show. That is, if you call being at a glitzy film festival, stocking up on free snow boots and having dinner with actor Michael Cera -- yes, really -- normal.

"I'm back working at the winery with my two best friends, and we're out selling our wines everywhere," he told me. One of Ben's longtime buddies was by his side at Sundance, and I tried to get some deets on Ben's final pick. Ben's pal swore he was in the dark about the outcome, but said he's never seen Ben this happy. Well, whoop-de-doo.

On to Monday night’s episode. There was a painfully boring game of baseball! There were more tears than usual! And there was some alcohol-fueled skinny-dipping!

Oh, yes. Never underestimate the power of a pretty woman to convince a guy to drop trou in front of a camera crew. 

Frustrated that she hadn’t been given a one-on-one date in a whole two episodes, little rule-breaker Courtney decided to sneak out and go for a nice refreshing ocean dip with Ben. 

“I don’t know if he’s ever gone skinny-dipping with a model before,” she smirked, “it could be fun.”

Continue reading »

'The Bachelor' recap: So, Ben and Chris Harrison came to my house?

A recap of the second episode of the Bachelor starring Ben Flajnik

I didn’t really pay attention to Monday night’s episode of “The Bachelor.”

Sorry, guys. I just got a tad distracted when THE MAN HIMSELF showed up at my front door.

Yes, that’s right. Ben Flajnik, host Chris Harrison and a slew of the reality show’s producers crashed my “Bachelor” viewing party on Monday. No big deal.

How, you ask, did such a magical event occur? Let’s rewind to a few hours before airtime, when one of the minds behind the program sent out a tweet saying that the “Bachelor” gang would be stopping by the homes of some lucky fans while the latest episode played. I sent in my address, not expecting much -- although, let’s be real, this blog probably didn’t hurt my chances.

Lo and behold, about 40 minutes into the show, I heard a ruckus outside my door. I ran over to the video doorbell screen and saw Chris, fumbling around with some buttons in the dark.

“Hello?” he said in his trademark announcer voice, “This is Chris Harrison. Can I come in?”

Moments later, a whole slew of strangers was in my living room, including Ben, dressed in a white button-down and -- you guessed it, ladies -- a skinny tie. I felt a bit lame about the size of my “Bachelor” get-together, which on this night had been whittled down to only three in all. (On Twitter, it was evident that the other parties the group stopped at were populated with handfuls of girls crowded onto couches munching on Pirate’s Booty.)

“We thought you lived downstairs,” Chris said, “because your neighbors are watching ‘The Bachelor,’ too.”

Continue reading »

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