Category: The Bachelor

ABC renews 'Dancing with the Stars,' 'The Bachelor,' 'Shark Tank'

ABC has renewed reality staples "Dancing with the Stars" "The Bachelor" and "Shark Tank"
Because seven re-ups just wasn't enough for a Thursday night, ABC has, unsurprisingly, decided to renew reality staples "Dancing with the Stars," "The Bachelor" and "Shark Tank" too.

"Dancing with the Stars," currently in its 14th season, will make a glittery return next season -- but there's no word yet on whether there will be the usual two installments. The veteran hoofer show has been a proven ratings hit for the network, but has experienced some dips this season.

The younger "Shark Tank" has performed well in its Friday slot. Now in its third season, it will get a 22-episode order for its fourth.

And host Chris Harrison might be experiencing some personal woes with his recent split from wife, but "The Bachelor" maintains a strong relationship with the network and will return for a 17th cycle.


Time magazine cover: TV networks blur breast image

"Cougar Town" gets a new ZIP Code in move from ABC to TBS

ABC renews "Grey's Anatomy," "Revenge," "Once ..." and more

-- Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: Telenovela star William Levy performs with Cheryl Burke on 'Dancing with the Stars.' Credit: ABC

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

Mike Fleiss, Brent Montgomery, Kris Jenner, host and moderator Tom Bergeron, Bertram van Munster, Conrad Green, and Eli Holzman

Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner is seated on a stage inside the Beverly Hilton earnestly talking about how she finds it strange when camera crews — which have been part of her family's life since 2007 — aren't around.

She needn't worry any time soon, of course. Those cameras will be around for three more years now that E! network, which airs "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and its spinoffs, has inked a deal with the family that would keep them on the air. "I'm just hoping for 23 more seasons," Jenner quipped. These days, though, Jenner's facetious statement might not be entirely out of the realm of possibility. But is that the problem — when shows or a concept become stale?

Jenner, along with other reality TV heavyweights — Mike Fleiss ("The Bachelor," "The Bachlorette"), Conrad Green ("Dancing with the Stars"), Brent Montgomery ("Pawn Stars"), Bertram van Munster ("The Amazing Race"), Eli Holzman ("Undercover Boss") — took part Thursday in the Hollywood Radio & Telvision Society's "The Unscripted Hitmakers" panel to discuss the genre wieldy imprint on television — but they agreed the reality TV needs some newness to keep viewers interested.

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'The Bachelor' producers deny racial discrimination

Christopher Johnson and Nathaniel Clybrooks

Warner Horizon Television, the studio behind ABC's "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," has denied the claims of two African American  men who filed a class-action suit Wednesday saying that the dating shows discriminate against people of color.

"This complaint is baseless and without merit," said the statement. "In fact, we have had various participants of color throughout the series' history, and the producers have been consistently -- and publicly -- vocal about seeking diverse candidates for both shows. As always, we continue to seek out participants of color for both "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette."

In their lawsuit, Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson, both from Nashville, say there were not given the same consideration as white candidates when they tried out to be contestants on the show. They said the two shows, over the course of 20 years and a combined 23 seasons, have never featured a person of color in the central role of "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette."


Talk-show station KFI-AM on a roll with top ratings

"Dark Shadows'" Jonathan Frid dies on Friday the 13th

Late Night: Jon Stewart decides Romney is funnier than Obama

-- Greg Braxton

Photo: Christopher Johnson, left, and Nathaniel Clybrooks have filed a class-action suit against "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" charging them with racial discrimination. Credit: Mark Humprey/Associated Press



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

Lawsuit claims racial bias on 'The Bachelor'

ABC's dating shows "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" were hit today with a class-action lawsuit filed by two Nashville men who said the show has intentionally discriminated against minorities by not including them on the two series.

The suit was filed in federal court in Nashville by two African American men, Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson, who said they were not given the same consideration as white candidates when they tried out to be contestants during a regional casting call.

"This is a case about equal opportunity," said Cyrus Mehri, co-counsel of Mehri & Skalet, which is representing the plaintiffs. "It's about putting everyone on equal footing. We're not saying that these two men should definitely have been selected. This is saying that they should have been given the same level of consideration as white applicants."

Among the defendants named in the suit are American Broadcast Cos. Inc., Warner Horizon Televsion and Mike Fleiss, executive producer of the two shows. ABC and the producers have declined to comment on the suit.

The lawsuit contends that the two reality shows, over the course of 20 years and a combined 23 seasons, have never featured a person of color in the central role of "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette."

In the lawsuit, Claybrooks is identified as a small-business owner and investor, while Johnson is identified as an athlete trying out as an NFL wide receiver.

In 2011, said the suit, Claybrooks went to the Indigo Hotel, where producers were holding a casting call for "The Bachelor." He maintained that his on-camera interview was much shorter than the ones for white applicants and that he was not given the same opportunity as his white counterparts.

The suit said Johnson went to a Nashville hotel for a "Bachelor" casting call but was not allowed to proceed past the lobby after he handed in his appplication. He was passed by white applicants who were ushered through the lobby by officials.

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages. "But basically, this is about the need for reform," said Mehri.


Dick Clark, pioneer of radio and TV, is dead at 82

Oprah Winfrey absent from Time "100 Most Influential List"

Gavin Newsom to get his own show on Current TV

— Greg Braxton

Photo: Christopher Johnson, left, and Nathaniel Claybrooks answer questions at a news conference on their lawsuit charging "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" with racial discrimination. Credit: Mark Humphrey/Associated Press.



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


Two Nashville men plan to file a class-action suit against "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," claiming that the ABC dating shows intentionally exclude people of color.

Representatives for Nathaniel Claybrooks, described as an "All-American football player," and Christopher Johnson, described as an "aspiring National Football League player," contend that both shows over the last 10 years and 23 combined seasons have never featured a person of color in the central role of "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette." They say they play to file class-actions complaints in federal court on Wednesday.

Among those being named in the suit are ABC Inc., Warner Horizon Television Inc. and executive producer Mike Fleiss.

ABC and Warner Horizon representatives declined to comment.

It's not the first time "The Bachelor" has been hit with charges of racism. Shawn Ryan, the creator of "The Shield" and "The Unit," last year blasted producers of "The Bachelor" after they defended the lack of cultural diversity. Fleiss had maintained that the reason why a person of color had not been cast in the main role of the series was becasue minorities had not "come forward."


'Shahs of Sunset' gets second season

Sharon Osbourne attacks her 'AGT' boss Simon Cowell

Howard Stern rages at Judd Apatow over "America's Got Talent" diss

— Greg Braxton

Photo: Ashley Hebert kisses J.P. Rosenbaum on the finale of "The Bachelorette's" seventh season. Credit: AP Photo/ABC, Matt Klitscher

'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: The fake Courtney plans a fake wedding

Courtney told Ben she loved him on episode 8 of the Bachelor

Sadly, there were no morgue visits, bird eulogies or taxidermy-filled basements during the hometown dates on this season of "The Bachelor." But we did get some baton twirling and even a faux wedding ceremony.

Yep, that’s right. The end of Ben’s season may not be for a few more weeks, but he’s already getting his vow-reciting on. On his visit to Scottsdale, Ariz., to meet Courtney’s parents, the model decided to cement her lead by setting up mock nuptials. Because she’d been somewhat emotionally withholding over the course of the season, she planned to drop the L-bomb for the first time in dramatic fashion.

She took Ben to the field where she first posed for modeling shots at age 17. Super romantic. She repeatedly told him she found the setting -- a park with a few trees lining some manicured grass -- “rustic.” And then she asked Ben to participate in a pretend wedding, with fake rings, an aisle, a pastor -- the whole shebang.

Coming from any other woman, this would have obviously appeared crazy. But not from the pretty, popular girl -- oh, no. The second that Courtney proposed the idea, Ben’s eyes widened, seemingly shocked that he might actually have a shot with the hot chick. Instead of being freaked out by her over-the-top antics, he took his vow-writing seriously, indicating he had far stronger feelings for Courtney than any of the other remaining women.

“From the moment I saw you, you took my breath away,” he told her earnestly. “I thought, ‘Is this too good to be true?’”

Yes, Ben. Yes, it is. Because the woman you proclaimed your almost-love to reciprocated by jacking a line from a “Sex & the City” episode to use in her vows. Remember when Carrie broke up with The Russian, telling him she was “looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-each-other love?”

Well, Courtney told Ben she was looking for a quite similar kind of love. “Real love. Passionate, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love.”

Of course, those were the most intimate words Courtney shared with Ben, as she had trouble mustering any genuine emotion during the supposed romantic moment.

Even if I could forgive Courtney for not having an original thought in her brain, I’d still find it difficult to look past her seemingly obvious lack of meaningful feelings for Ben. During Monday night’s episode, she frequently said she liked Ben because he’s the kind of “nice guy” who appreciates her -- one who makes her feel special and won’t betray her trust. A.k.a.: a guy who is more into her than she is into him. And the converse, of course, is exactly why Ben wants Courtney. Because she didn’t give up too easily. Well, emotionally, anyway. Listen up, ladies: If you want to score a guy, be sexually forward, but never talk about your actual feelings!

After watching so many seasons of this show, I’m still shocked to watch each Bachelor or Bachelorette fall into the same trap. They go with that gut feeling -- the one all about lust, convincing themselves there is more to the relationship than just attraction. And then cut to an inevitable breakup within mere months.

Why, for instance, can’t Ben just choose Nicki? Here’s a beautiful woman with her head on her shoulders who has been through a divorce but seems to have actually learned from it. Plus, her family is fantastic. Usually it annoys me when the contestants' parents are all: “This guy is great! Yes, honey, go get married after five weeks!” You know my dad would be like, “Uh, do you really expect me to buy this? And how much do you make a year with this so-called wine business?”

Still, Nicki’s dad was on the Ben train, and he was totally endearing. 

He apologized if he hadn’t protected his daughter enough from her ex, and admitted that it was still “hard lettting [her] fly.” Ben was obviously a fan of this guy as well, tweeting “nicki’s dad = legit.” Legit indeed, Bachelor dude.

I totally want Nicki to win, but she’s not going to. I do think she has the most solid shot at beating the vapid Courtney, though, since Ben acknowledged that during his time in Texas with Nicki he looked over at her numerous times and thought “I love this girl.”

Lindzi also scored points on her date. But I don’t even want to write about her. Seriously, the girl is nice enough, but man, is she boring. And her highlights and make-up are distractingly bad. And she thought the lyrics to “To Grandmother’s House We Go” were “through the woods and over the water,” instead of “over the river and through the woods.” And all she can talk about is horses. 

But Lindzi’s family and their affinity for the equine species didn’t scare Ben off. His trip down to meet Kacie’s rents in the Bible Belt of Tennessee did not go as smoothly. Things got off to a poor start when Kacie met Ben in the middle of a football field, frizzy-haired and literally twirling a baton. 

“She’s going for it,” Ben said later in an interview, clearly trying to be nice. “I like that she exudes … confidence.”

Kacie explained that she’d chosen to take Ben to the field because it was named after her late grandfather, who used to play AAA baseball. The Babe Ruth of the South, apparently. 

Anyway, Ben wasn’t feeling her story, nodding politely while staring at her fly-aways. Things only got worse when she was asked to describe her father: a federal probation officer who doesn’t drink. 

“Well, that’s great,” Ben recalled thinking. “I’m a winemaker, and my business is booze.”

Also, her father doesn’t take risks and thinks “The Bachelor” is a sham. In other words: He’s a totally rational dad. 

Well, not entirely. Once Ben arrived at Kacie’s house, her parents quickly laid down the law, telling him that if he and Kacie were to get engaged, they shouldn’t live together before getting married. There goes that rational thought.

More discouraging was the fact that Kacie’s father didn’t seem to believe his daughter had a viable shot at landing Ben. He told the Bach that if Kacie wasn’t “the one,” he’d appreciate it if Ben would let her down soon. And then when dad told Kacie he wasn’t down with her moving in with Ben pre-marriage, he prefaced it with, “I’m not saying he’s going to ask you to marry him.” Real nice.

Sadly, Ben was not to ask Kacie to marry him, as he sent her packing this week. This was the first time I thought he actually let one of the woman depart respectfully, not offering fake excuses in an effort to comfort her. 

“Why am I not good enough?” Kacie sobbed as the limo drove away. 

Don’t worry, girl. Courtney and Ben are never going to last, anyway.


Complete 'Bachelor' coverage on Show Tracker

'The Bachelor' recap: Don't tell Ben Flajnik how to kiss

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

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Ben and Courtney walk off to depart on their faux honeymoon. Credit: ABC

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

Courtney, not Kacie B., appears to have the inside track when it came to winning Ben's affection on Monday's episode of "The Bachelor"
How fitting that Monday's episode of "The Bachelor" should end with Courtney petting a tarantula. She clearly shares a lot in common with spiders, because she's woven quite an elaborate web to ensnare Ben.

Though the conniving model may not appear to be all that book smart, I've got to hand it to her: Girl got game. Unlike the other women who act like Ben is the second coming of Christ, Courtney withholds her feelings, making "The Bach" come to her. At one point this week, she tried to console the other women by telling them that Ben isn’t the only guy in the world.

"Did she just say Ben isn't the only guy in the world?" Emily said in disbelief, which is sad on about 3 million levels.

FULL COVERAGE: 'The Bachelor'

The thing is, deep down, Courtney is obviously just as insecure as the other women, despite being genetically perfect. Before finding out that she'd landed one of the week's coveted one-on-one dates, Courtney threatened to leave the show if she wasn't selected for some solo time with Ben. She was in bed, writing in her journal -- God, how I would pay to read those insightful pages -- and crying. It was nice to see a momentary flicker of emotion from her, and for a moment, I almost bought into the fact that she is falling for Ben.

But sadly, that doesn't seem to be the case. Courtney just seems like one of those girls who has never had to fight for a guy's affection, and now she can't deal with the fact that she's not the center of attention.

Accordingly, at the beginning of her date with Ben in Belize, she told him she felt the spark between them had fizzled and that she was contemplating not bringing him home to meet her parents.

Notice how she put the ball in his court? This worked fantastically, as Ben admitted that his "heart drops" upon hearing Courtney's confession, and said he would be "crushed" and "devastated" if her feelings for him weren't reciprocal. 

After Monday's episode, I have a difficult time seeing how anyone but Courtney will be Ben's final pick. This week, he blatantly said he had stronger feelings for the model, and that his connection with her was deeper than it was with the other women. 

But the real tell-tale sign of Courtney's lead came when Ben said he has begun to realize he wants to be with "a woman that has a little bit of edge" -- also known as a chick who isn't a lapdog. Which Courtney most certainly is not. When Ben asked her why she didn't get along with the other women -- and if that was indicative of a larger inability to connect with girlfriends -- Courtney got defensive. Instead of challenging her, Ben immediately backed off, admitting that he didn't want to seem like he was "attacking" her.

Ugh, dude is such a goner. And that's the sad thing. When I start to like Ben, believing that he has more character and brains than some of the Ken doll "Bachelors" of the past, I remember: This dude likes Courtney. A woman who repeatedly says things like "winning" and "oh, snap!" and -- yes -- "kill shot" while shooting fake guns, imagining she's killing off the other women.

Which she did this week, in some respects. After a seemingly normal date, Emily -- arguably the brightest woman on the show this season -- got the boot. And the poor girl went to some extreme lengths to prove she was the kind of down-to-earth, adventurous partner Ben claims to be looking for. She went lobster hunting in the ocean, for God's sake. And those things did not look friendly. I would venture to say that I would have rather gone on the shark-diving date than the lobster-hunting date. 

That's not a sentiment that Rachel, the other woman who was sent packing this week, would agree with. Despite the fact that she conquered her fear of swimming with the kind of shark that I don't think has actual teeth, Ben wasn't feeling her. 

That leaves Nicki, Lindzi, and Kacie B. -- all three sweet women who I think would be decent picks for Ben. I'm not totally impressed by Lindzi. She's nice enough, but she didn't have much to say on her date with Ben, even when they did that whole cute message-in-a-bottle stunt. That she spells her name with a "z" and can't apply make-up properly doesn't help. 

I like Nicki, and I think she has a little hidden spunk to her -- it was pretty endearing when she said she'd tell "these palm trees, these seashells, this [expletive] ocean!" that she was falling in love with Ben. But I'm not sure she has enough fight in her to make it to the end. 

And then there's Kacie, who is my favorite at this point. But because she's pretty and normal and nice and not a game-player, I'm guessing she doesn't stand a chance. 

But enough predicting for now: Hometowns next week! Are you dying? Bring on the kooky parents, overbearing parents, and especially the drunk parents!


Complete "Bachelor" coverage on Show Tracker

"'The Bachelor" recap: Don't tell Ben Flajnik how to kiss

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

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Ben and Kacie B. on their date during Monday night's episode of "The Bachelor." Credit: ABC


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