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'Bachelorette' boss on when he knew Clare Crawley had to be replaced: 'This was crazy'

Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette is already living up to its dramatic expectations. Just three episodes in and the hairdresser’s replacement, Tayshia Adams, is poised to make her entrance next week. According to ABC executive Robert Mills, it was pretty obvious early on that the season would need a new lead.

“I think that Clare was exactly what we thought she’d be, which is Clare — unpredictable,” he began on Tuesday’s episode of Nick Viall’s podcast The Viall Files

Mills, ABC’s head of Alternative Series, Specials & Late-Night Programming, said the network was interested in casting Crawley as she “faded out” of Bachelor Nation after appearing on five iterations of the show.

“This is what really appealed to us when we met with her last February,” he continued. “She kind of faded out of the spotlight, she was just back in Sacramento, being a hairdresser and she really came into it like, ‘Look, if you guys want me, that’s totally great, I would be honored. I would love it. If not, get it too.’ But she really just wanted to make this happen.”

While the network is typically prepared for anything, Mills said they did not expect Crawley’s interest in rumored fiancé Dale Moss to impact things so quickly.

“This was crazy,” he told Viall. “The big worry was 'Oh my God, Dale’s going to go wire to wire.’”

Viall has had his fair share of experience in the Bachelor universe as he was the Season 21 lead. He also appeared on Bachelor in Paradise and two seasons of The Bachelorette. Mills compared Crawley’s season to Andi Dorfman’s, where Viall finished as the runner-up. According to Mills, it was obvious how much she liked eventual winner Josh Murray night one.

“No offense to you Nick, but I think Andi’s season that was a little bit of a problem,” shared Mills. “It was really always gonna be Josh.” 

Mills said they had the same concern with Bachelorette JoJo Fletcher. “She kind of knew night one it was going to be Jordan [Rodgers].”

“I think that’s pretty common, right?” Viall asked.

“That was the big worry at this point,” he said of Crawley’s season. “It was just going to be Dale from episode 1 to episode 10.”

As viewers saw on Tuesday’s episode, Crawley cancels a portion of one of the group dates.

“This is when it started to take a turn,” said Mills. “This is different.”

“She seems to mentally check out with Dale,” noted Viall.

“She definitely does,” agreed Mills.

Viall explained how on his season of The Bachelor, he knew winner Vanessa Grimaldi was the “frontrunner” immediately, but that he tried to play it coy. That’s not what Crawley has done. Not only did Moss get the first impression rose, he got invited on the first group date — which typically doesn’t happen — and got the second group date rose.

“She’s very strong,” said Mills of Crawley. “This is what she wanted… she insisted Dale be on that first group date.”

While there were musings at times about replacing a Bachelor or Bachelorette lead, Mills said it “never” got beyond the “what if” stage — until this year.

“It was always about ‘They’re gonna walk off.’ You know as the lead, you have moments where you’re like, ‘I’m done, I’m out,’” explained Mills — and Viall agreed.

“It was sort of never, ‘Oh my God, what if they’ve met this person [so early] and we’ve got to shut this whole thing down.’ But this is when that started to become real,” added Mills.

The moment Mills said everyone knew Crawley had to be replaced was after the roast group date, which aired on Tuesday night.

“When she didn’t give out that rose and she just gave it to herself… that was it,” stated Mills. “That was really it and that was when we started making the call.”

Tayshia Adams ultimately got that call.

“Tayshia will be part of this season starting next week,” Mills (finally) confirmed.

At the end of the day, Mills believes Crawley and Moss would have been better off on Bachelor in Paradise.

“Nothing ever comes easy to Clare,” he added. “The one time she’s the Bachelorette, she would have been better off in that group setting.”

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