'The Bachelor' host Chris Harrison wanted a $25 million payout after exiting from the franchise for good.
An ABC source said,
He has nearly 20 years of dirt. Instead of handing them a rose, he was absolutely ready to hand them a lawsuit detailing all the behind-the-scenes details.
The 49-year-old Harrison is fuming since he was booted for backing participant Rachael Kirkconnell in her tumultuous race row — and insiders say he will go down swinging.
Watch: Chris Harrison EXITS Bachelor Franchise After Racism Controversy
The source said,
Chris Harrison’s whole life was ‘The Bachelor,’ and he didn’t want to let go. He still is really sad to leave, and there have been very tough and very heated negotiations going on for weeks.
According to the well-placed insider, network executives anticipated Harrison would have "gone quickly and discreetly" so they could put the PR nightmare behind them as soon as possible.
But Harrison, who had been the face of the enormously successful franchise for the last two decades before the bloom faded, was having none of it, as maintained by the source.
As per a second network insider, discussions between Harrison and ABC executives over his departure were more intense — and spectacular — than any finale episode.
The first source said,
He knows a lot about inappropriate behavior on set: fights between contestants, misbehavior including use of illegal substances while overseas and complaints from producers that were allegedly brushed under the carpet by ABC execs.
He was ready to tell the truth about how things really work over there — and he has plenty of evidence to back him up. Chris was making $5 million a season and wanted $25 million to go.
A compromise with Harrison was eventually made, according to the second source, albeit it is not understood to be as substantial as $25 million. Harrison had recently hired famed LA attorney Brian Freedman, who had previously defended Bachelor creator and exec producer Mike Fleiss's wife in their nasty divorce.
Laura Kaeppeler Fleiss, the former Miss America, accused the pair of domestic assault following an alleged incident at one of their Hawaii residences. She reportedly secured a $10 million settlement after withdrawing her case a few days later.
Gabrielle Union was also represented by Freedman in her disagreement with NBC's America's Got Talent last year, upon getting fired as a judge after complaining of racism and a "toxic environment" on the program. In September, the disagreement was resolved.
The second source said,
Chris Harrison hired Brian Freedman, who represented Mike Fleiss’ wife, which immediately set an aggressive playing field, and the exit negotiations were extremely fraught. It was a bunch of emotionally charged men in a room who were not happy with each other at all.
Meanwhile, the insider claims that Harrison still has a grudge against Good Morning America presenter Michael Strahan, who he faults in part for his demise.
After apologizing for defending Kirkconnell, Harrison was enraged when Strahan finished the conversation by saying, “Well, his apology is his apology."
But it felt like I got nothing more than a surface response on any of this. And obviously … the man wants to clearly stay on the show — but only time will tell if there is any meaning behind his words.
The source said,
Chris was not happy with that Strahan interview and the way it went down. He was not happy with Strahan’s comment at the end of the interview, that it was a ‘surface’ apology. He felt angry and that Strahan made a bad situation even worse.
But, at the end of the day, Chris Harrison opted to go on GMA, and he shouldn't have anticipated an automatic pass just because GMA is also an ABC show.