It’s been a cruel, bleak few months in the reality television landscape without any incarnation of “The Bachelor” franchise to watch. But five months after audiences saw him rejected by the coldhearted Ashley Hebert, Ben Flajnik is finally making his triumphant return to the small screen.
You know what that means, folks. Ahead of the show’s Jan. 2 premiere, it’s time for Ben to start doing the media rounds, attempting to remain opaque while insisting he’s really “happy with [his] decision in doing the show."
On Wednesday morning, the Josh Groban lookalike jumped on the phone with a handful of journalists, fielding questions about the upcoming season. As ever, the 28-year-old gave off his trademark nonchalant vibe — at times even coming across as blase about his journey on the show. (He also seemed to be driving, as the sounds of turn signals and honking horns could be heard intermittently in the background of the call.)
Heading into the season, Flajnik said, he didn’t reach out to any former “Bachelor” contestants because he wanted to make the experience his own.
“I spoke to friends and family more than the ‘Bachelor’ family. I tried to separate myself from the whole Hollywood, L.A. thing,” he said.
Still, he’s already noticing the effect his newfound celebrity is having on his business — a facility where he produces wine in Northern California.
“We’ve always made really nice wines, and the majority of the purchases because of the show are novelty purchases — one bottle at a time,” he acknowledged. “We know they’re not coming from serious wine consumers. We try to differentiate business from ‘Bachelor’-related things, because we do take our business and our wines very seriously.”
One of those potential customers? Jennifer Love Hewitt. Before Flajnik was officially named the newest “Bachelor” in September, rumors surfaced that he and the actress had had a brief romantic dalliance. On the call, Flajnik elaborated on the rumors by saying Hewitt had reached out him and said she wanted to visit his winery with her friends.
“So my business partners and I showed them around and we all went to dinner and talked about life and the experience,” he said. “She’s a nice girl, but it was right in the middle of the time when I was deciding if I was going to be the ‘Bachelor’ or not. … Ending up with a Hollywood celebrity is not something that I ever imagined doing.”
Flajnik ultimately decided to take part in the show despite its horrible track record with romances. Just this month, couple Ali Fedotowsky and Roberto Martinez became the latest pair to split post-show.
“I don’t know Roberto and Ali personally, but it’s hard, because relationships end whether you’re on a TV show or not,” he said. “For me, I’m an opportunist and an optimist. I feel like you can find someone in any way, shape or form, and it doesn’t matter if it’s on a TV show or on an airplane. It comes in many forms.”
Let’s see how that works out for ya, Ben.
— Amy Kaufman
Photo: Ben Flajnik is the star of "The Bachelor" this season. Credit: ABC.