Will you accept this... multimillion-dollar buyout?
Chris Harrison is onto a "new chapter" after inking a deal to step down as host of The Bachelor franchise, a job he's held since the show started in 2002, after "excusing historical racism." But it comes with a massive payday, according to multiple reports.
While Harrison himself didn't say what figure was on the check, Deadline, which broke the news the host was officially out on Tuesday, reports he received "a mid-range eight-figure payoff and promise to keep his mouth shut." That suggests the number is anywhere between $40 million and $69.9 million.
That's in line with what Radar Online has a source saying: Harrison "asked for the $40 million and the producers didn’t flinch." He earns $8 million a year also hosting The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise, the website claims, so he'll be paid for the next five years. Along with the deal came with an "iron-clad non-disclosure agreement," so there will be no "Host Tells All" special.
Meanwhile, Page Six reports that Harrison's payday is actually lower than the mid-range at $25 million. Though it's also noted that he has a non-disclosure agreement.
Entertainment lawyer Anita K. Sharma seemed a little skeptical when asked by The Daily Beast if $50 million, the true mid-range, seemed accurate. "You know the entertainment business. There’s a lot of spin and bluster. I would take that with a grain of salt," she said. "I think everybody exaggerates, and mid-range sounds really good as opposed to low range. Nobody's going to say low range."
So we asked Angela Reddock-Wright, a Los Angeles-based employment attorney and mediator, for her take on whether $50 million, the true mid-range, seemed high or low.
"The payout may not have been $50M but it for sure is likely to have covered the balance of Harrison's existing contract, along with payment for any alleged damage to his reputation," she tells Yahoo Entertainment. "The twist here is that, presumably, Harrison was 'let go' based on his comments to former Bachelorette star Rachel Lindsay which were perceived as racially insensitive. So the question is, how does someone get paid so much money to leave when they are the one who engaged in the alleged controversial misconduct?"
And the answer is "rooted in Harrison’s underlying contract," Reddock-Wright says. "Most high-level employment and entertainment contracts have buyout provisions that require studios and employers to buyout the talent or employee on a show when the contract ends earlier than expected unless the employer can show fraud or substantial misconduct on the part of the person," like Sharon Osbourne just did when she reportedly collected millions after leaving The Talk amid a racism controversy. "In this instance, Harrison probably argued that his alleged misconduct did not rise to a level justifying his not being paid out for his full contract. He also probably argued that he has been the face of the franchise since its inception and that the franchise would not be as successful and popular as it is without him, thereby justifying, at minimum, a full buyout of his contract.”
A rep for ABC has not responded to our request for comment about the settlement figure. The network said in a statement with Warner Horizon, the production company behind the franchise, on Tuesday they're "thankful for [Harrison's] many contributions over the past 20 years" and they "wish him all the best."
Here's what we do know: Harrison hired attorney Bryan Freedman, who specializes in crisis litigation, to negotiate the deal — and Freedman's known for inking lucrative ones. He helped Megyn Kelly get the remainder of her $69 million contract — an estimated $30 million — after she abruptly departed NBC News in 2018 after her own controversy a year-and-a-half into her three-year deal. He also was behind Gabrielle Union's settlement deal with NBC's America’s Got Talent over toxic workplace claims, for which she received “significant” compensation, per Deadline. (Freedman has not responded to Yahoo Entertainment's request for comment either.)
While Radar and CelebrityNetWorth.com put Harrison's salary at $8 million a year, that hasn't been verified by any major news outlets. However, it's very possible. Multiple outlets point to a deleted 2011 TV Guide story — 10 years into the franchise — that said Harrison made $60,000 per episode. For about 36 shows a year — between the three different programs and not even including one-offs like The Bachelor at 20: A Celebration of Love —that would have been around $2.1 million annually. And presumably, he improved his deals over the last decade.
Harrison told Glamour in 2016 that he "just signed back on for five more years," noting the network wanted him for six years but he asked, "'Can we just do five?' That gets me to 20 years on the show and 50 years old." That means his contract would expire this year. That could potentially not have worked in his favor, because it's not like he had years to go on his deal.
It's also been pointed out, that in recent years, there's been less of Harrison on the shows anyway.
"It's been 19 years and if you do watch the show, we saw less and less of Chris," Rachel Lindsay, the first Black Bachelorette, pointed out on Tuesday's Extra. That also has been noted in The Ringer's Chris Harrison Salary Calculator, how he earned a large amount for sometimes just minutes on the show. (For example, in nine episodes of Season 13 of The Bachelorette, he was onscreen for a total of 36 minutes and 33 seconds.) So that's not a ton of screen-time producers will have to fill with a replacement.
So far, replacements have been easy to find — even if they're only temporary. Emmanuel Acho — former NFL player turned TV host — stepped in as Harrison's After the Final Rose replacement for Matt James's season after this all first happened. Last week, it was reported that David Spade and others would guest-host Bachelor in Paradise this summer. And Katie Thurston's season of The Bachelorette premiered Monday night with former Bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe as hosts.
So what will Harrison do next? In confirming his exit, he said he's "excited to start a new chapter." During his years as the face of the Bachelor franchise, he's had other hosting jobs, including Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and the Miss America pageant. He's also had a ring line and officiated weddings. He's even written a romance novel (though one dubbed "the best worst book we've ever read" by HuffPost.)
It's just a matter of who wants to hire him. During Season 25 of The Bachelor, the first one featuring the show's first Black Bachelor ever, Harrison defended a white contestant who had photos resurface of her attending an antebellum-themed fraternity formal in 2018. He later apologized for "excusing historical racism."
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