A new season of ABC's The Bachelorette kicks off May 19 (9:30 p.m. ET/PT) with Andi Dorfman, an assistant district attorney from Atlanta, in the driver's seat.
She'll start with 25 hot guys wooing her.
One of them, sadly, is Eric Hill, the Brigham Young University graduate who died after a paragliding accident in Utah on April 23, at age 31. He had completed filming the show and we will see him introduce himself to Andi on the first night, flashing a smile and talking about his travel adventures. He had been on a trek dubbed "The Global Odyssey" — also known as "GO With Eric" — to travel to every country in the world in fewer than 1,200 days.
"It was a horrible, tragic accident," says host Chris Harrison. "Everybody really enjoyed having him on the show. I know, from speaking to his family after, that it was a real positive experience for him." And, says Harrison, "He makes a big presence. Andi really likes him early on."
Harrison says that it "wouldn't have made sense" to edit him out. "That would have seemed disrespectful." Still, he figures that "no matter what we do, some people aren't going to like it. We're really trying to do the right thing. We've tried to delicately handle it without taking advantage. It's an homage to him."
Along with the 25 men, we'll also get to see one "party crasher" as one Andi wooer-wannabe shows up unannounced on the first night at the Bachelorette mansion. Security stops him and Harrison is called to investigate.
Oh please, that sounds like a set-up, doesn't it?
"People might say, 'Come on,'" says Harrison. He was skeptical, too. "We called all the producers in, like someone had pulled a fast one on all of us. I swear to you, everyone promised they had nothing to do with this."
The one hint about the crasher that Harrison will give is that "this person knew where this was and had a knowledge of how we do things."
He says the crasher reflects Andi's appeal. "I don't know if we've ever had such a professional, driven businesswoman as our bachelorette before. The show takes on the form of whoever is leading it. For Andi, it took on the form of a very strong, driven woman."
Harrison says he told Andi that she reminded him of actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She was afraid he meant her potty-mouthed Veep character. But what he meant was, "You want to be friends with her. You want to be around her. The guys this season feel that way. So many guys started falling for her right off the bat."
I can't believe this season is already about to start (and that Juan Pablo and Nikki are still together). Who will be watching next Monday?