ABC Exec on 'Bachelor' Finale Rumors and What’s Been 'Too Much' This Season (Exclusive)

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During Sunday night's Academy Awards, ABC surprised fans by dropping a sexy promo spot featuring its current Bachelor, Peter Weber, shirtless and crafting clay a la the iconic scene in the Oscar-winning film Ghost. ET's Lauren Zima spoke with Rob Mills, the network's Senior Vice President of Alternative Series, Specials & Late-Night Programming, exclusively on Monday morning.

ET: Loved the ‘Bachelor’ promo during the Oscars! How did you decide on spoofing the movie Ghost? You even got Whoopi Goldberg to appear!

Rob Mills: I have to give a shout-out to our new Chief Marketing Officer, Shannon Ryan, who really has said, "We’ve got to blow out The Bachelor," and really loves it. She’s the one who said, "Let’s do a special Oscars night promo." I don’t think The Bachelor has had an Oscars promo since it was launching in 2002. It was great, she recognized it and gets that The Bachelor is so part of pop culture. Taking that iconic moment -- although, Peter had actually never seen the movie -- but I think most people got the reference and Whoopi was the cherry on top! They probably YouTubed Peter a clip so he’d get it.

Was part of the thinking behind a promo to boost ratings for this season of The Bachelor?

It was just really doubling down on things that are huge priorities. We’ve got our new [Bachelor franchise] show, Listen to Your Heart, coming up soon. The Bachelor is taking up more and more hours, so you really want to double down and get people in, and I think the timing was also great because this is a point where we have six women left [in tonight’s episode,] so if you want to jump in this season, it almost feels like you could have a fresh start and not really get lost. That played into it. It was such a no-brainer and it’s the promo everyone’s talking about!

This season has felt a bit like, ‘who’s the frontrunner, who’s the villain?' How have you felt about the way this season has played out? 

It becomes a little more clear tonight. It’s sort of staggering to think about, but a week ago, we had 16 women and now we’re at six, and by the end of tonight’s episode, we’re at four. So in the space of seven days having gone from 16 to four -- it was probably a little much. You get a lot more clarified tonight … for good and bad, we’ve seen a lot of reactions about the drama. I definitely think the overriding thing is missing the way the women have all sort of supported each other [in the past.] You saw people tweeting out that shot from Arie Luyendyk Jr.’s finale where Becca Kufrin was announced as the Bachelorette, and all of the women were sort of sitting on her lap, and around each other, and you want to see more support. It’ll be interesting to address that at the Women Tell All. I think we definitely need to address that head-on and see what the girls have to say. 

Looking back, anything you would do differently with casting or the way it’s all played out so far?

We’ll look at everything. I don’t think you ever say you’d do anything differently, but I think it’s that we need to look at things going forward. You see a lot of people talking about the age of contestants, I think that’s something we’d probably look at and say, "Does it need to be aged up? Are these girls ready?" This is a show about hopefully finding a life mate, and that has happened on this show. I think just making sure everybody’s ready, and you can’t ignore the fact that, not even for the right reasons anymore, but are you there to be an influencer? Are you there for Peter? Looking at all that. They all, I think, are very sincere; I think the girls are actually great, but you look at everything and take that into account moving forward as we think about who the next Bachelorette is going to be.

The finale seems like it’s going to be dramatic! What do you say to all the rumors out there about it? There’s even one that Peter ends up with a producer.

Well, I hate to get in the way of a good rumor, so I’m not going to confirm or deny about whether he ends up with a producer! I don’t know how we’d ever top that though! But, it is crazy. What we’ve seen about the finale over the years is that the "finale" is really on that night when the show goes live. There’s a lot of craziness, it’s a roller coaster, but I would say even now the roller coaster hasn’t ended, and it won’t end until after After the Final Rose.

The Bachelor airs Monday nights on ABC. Check out our recap from the most recent episode below!

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