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'Bachelor' Host Chris Harrison: 'I'm a Shoulder to Cry On'
Bachelor host Chris Harrison has been intimately involved in some of the biggest hookups and breakups in pop culture. From Trista and Ryan's eight-year marriage to Jake and Vienna's tabloid-fueled split, Harrison knows that while love may be easy to find on a fantasy TV date, it's not easy to keep.
Harrison, 40, talked to Parade.com about the Jan. 2 premiere of The Bachelor with Ben Flajnik (ABC, 8 p.m. ET). Plus, how he's changing things up with a new hosting gig on the heartfelt game show, You Deserve It.
On the toughest part about hosting The Bachelor.
"I guess what I find the most challenging is just keeping up with our Bachelor or Bachelorette and staying in tune with them emotionally and trying to say and do the right things for them and be a friend. I'm a host, but more importantly, I feel like I'm a friend."
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Same drama, new Bachelor.
"Fans will absolutely love this season. I've very happy this is our tenth anniversary and I'm glad that we have a homerun to bring to the table. It is very good and it will definitely live up to the Bachelor name. Ben was great. Obviously, it really helps to have a great Bachelor, but the women are dynamic and fantastic and catty and emotional. At the same time, it's this great evolution of a man. You watch Ben go through this change. It started with Ashley and that proposal in Fiji, but it really continues throughout this show."
On Bachelor Ben.
"Ben and I — and you'll see this in the show — it's much more organic. Our deliberations became very casual and we did them actually before the cocktail parties even started. That's just the kind of relationship we had. It was really like going through this with a friend and feeling their pain and pushing them in the right direction and trying to help them if I feel like they're about to make a huge mistake. Kind of like what I learned with Ashley: I try to help these people save themselves from any grave errors, but at the same time, you have to let them live their life and make some mistakes."
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On the Bachelor breakups.
"Our couples don't face anything tougher than anybody else in the real world — your neighbor, your mom and dad, yourself. I think that's why the show is so popular. It has been able to sustain for a decade when no TV show in modern history really does because everybody can relate to it. Everybody can relate to Ali and Roberto and what they just went through — falling in love and then the breakup. I think everybody has been in that position. Obviously, we take things to a different level with our dates and the escapism, but at the base of it all, I think we represent what everybody wants and that's love and a relationship. We've all been through some bad ones and we all hope for the great ones. We all want to know what happened with Ali and Roberto, but the answer is there's nothing that simple about it. They fell in love, they lived together for 18 months, and then decided that it can't work. But at the same time, you see Ashley and J.P. loving and living their life in New York, and they seem to be close to getting married, so we hope for them."
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On his newest role on You Deserve It.
"It's a game show that has a huge heart and is all about giving. What sets it apart is that the contestant is trying to win as much money as possible, but they won't take a dime away from this. It's all for somebody else, for somebody in their life who deserves it. That's what made it special for me. The people we're playing for are not sitting there with their hand out. They are people who would never in a million years ask for help. For me, it was a no-brainer to come host it."
On his hosting duties.
"It's not completely unlike my Bachelor and Bachelorette role in that I'm not a game show host who is screaming and yelling. That's not my style. I'm more the friend and the confidant, and in some cases, a shoulder to cry on. Yes, I'm hosting and there is a game element, but I'm more concerned with the human element and the emotion in it and kind of reminding everybody who we're playing for. Some of these people have really fallen on hard times. I love The Bachelor and I love The Bachelorette, but some of those shows are sensational and this is definitely a very different show. This show proves that TV can just be good. It can be altruistic and still be entertaining at the same time."