If you're a regular viewer of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, there's a good chance the name Ken Fuchs rings a bell. As director of the show, he estimates he's overseen at least 350 episodes of the franchise and counting. "I did the math once, and I counted all the roses I've seen handed out, and it was an obscene number," he says. "But I don't remember that now. I'll have to go back and figure it out."
We can forgive Fuchs—who also works on Shark Tank, Family Feud, and Deal or No Deal—for not knowing his final rose count. After all, there are more pressing matters to keep track of each week. From following all the drama in the house to packing up and moving locations every week, Fuchs is lucky if he knows what time zone he's in. "Think about a traveling carnival, and that's us," he says. "Everything you're watching, we're either in the next room or a few rooms over." For Fuchs and his technical department, sometimes that means building a makeshift a tent in Bali that can keep the equipment cool, or finding a way to get cables to the 50th floor of a skyscraper. "The team is tremendous because it's such an undertaking. From the art department to the lighting department, we work closely together just to figure out how to make the show."
After nearly 17 years on the air, it's safe to say they've more than figured it out. And now, with season 23 of The Bachelor about to premiere (January 7 on ABC), Fuchs is opening up about some of those production secrets and more. Read on.
Glamour: How often are you actually in contact with the contestants?
Ken Fuchs: It really depends on if I need to communicate something or if I need to reach somebody that I can’t reach from afar, because I’d rather not be [on set]. The more we can do that, the better for the content of the show, so we really make an effort of staying in the background. Obviously the cameramen are there, but I try to stay away because we want them as much as possible to forget the cameras are there. Every time they see me, it’s like, 'Uh-oh.' It’s a little bit like when they see [Chris] Harrison…something’s up. Sometimes I come through the kitchen and steal some of their appetizers, but that’s about it. However, the lead Bachelor or Bachelorette for that season, I’ll get to know because I’ll see him or her everyday. Every now and then we’ll give them television instruction, but it’s very, very minimal and we try to keep it that way.
During a rose ceremony, it takes forever for the Bachelor or Bachelorette to announce each person's name. Is that just editing, or are you instructing them via an earpiece when to call out names?
KF: I can tell you one thing: Yes, we’re making a TV show, so there is some of that [suspense we want to create]. No, the person never wears an earpiece themselves. They’re not driven in that way at all. There are occasions where we’ll cue them to do something or we might have to wait to do something, but it’s as simple as a camera has to change its battery or sometimes it’s a mundane reason. It’s not like we’re purposely extending it. We may have called two names back-to-back and in editing we can open up the time it takes for dramatic purposes. So, again, a huge credit to our post [production] department. That’s where all of that is created, and I’m sort of involved in that a little bit, but not terribly much so.
You’re basically saying they’re not counting, ‘One Mississippi, two Mississippi…’
KF: No, no. [Laughs] I know it must feel that way for sure and there is a little bit of a television contrivance, but no, it’s never that way. Also, we don’t want the Bachelor or Bachelorette thinking about us as they are holding a rose [deciding who to give it to]. We want them thinking about the faces in front of them and the emotions that they’re feeling. That’s the most important thing. And I can promise you all the music is added in post [production].
As the director of the show, which past Bachelor or Bachelorette did you find most captivating?
KF: Oh boy…I think Ben Higgins was very captivating. There’s something so earnest and sweet about him that really I think captured people’s imaginations. I think you root for all of them along the way, but some of them have been more divisive. There’s been years where people have questioned our decision. I’m not on the inside of that decision-making process, but in general I think our casting has been great. The suitors that show up for night one are always fascinating and crazy and weird and fun. So I think it’s a good mix.
KF: There are so many great ‘characters,' like Bekah Martinez. I’m always looking for great reactors and people who can be in the scene and not always talking, but reacting and listening. In other words, just engaged in the process, whether they are goofballs or serious or nice girls or mean girls…really just listening and being a participant in the process. If it leads them into strange territory, then that’s up to them—and all the better for the show. It really runs the gamut of emotions.
You make a great point about Bekah Martinez, because her expressions were priceless.
KF: Right. Right. And truth is stranger than fiction. Things come out of their mouth, and we sit around and say, "We couldn’t possibly write that. No one would believe it." It would be too farcical for us to have a character say those lines, but here they come! Comes right out of their brain, out their mouth, and God bless ‘em.
The show has changed a lot since those early days in the beginning. Anything you miss about those times?
KF: I do cherish those early years because we were such a close-knit family, and now it’s quite a juggernaut. We’re going to sometimes six different countries on two or three different continents, and that requires an army of production. We have a few more cameras and audio and lighting. Things have grown a little bit more, but even for a fairly big group, it’s still pretty small. But there were some great friends and people those first few years and figuring it out together and being in the trenches together. A highlight was Trista and Ryan’s wedding; I’ll never forget that.
Is there a location that you’d love to visit again?
KF: I’d love to go back to New Zealand. And I think about Cape Town, South Africa a lot.
Do you have kids, or nieces or nephews, and if so, would you let them go on the show?
KF: I have three sons. People always say, 'If you had a daughter would you let her be on the show?' but I have three boys in their 20s, and I’m having a little baby girl after all these years. So I’m really excited about that. In 18 or 20 years, I don’t know if she’ll be allowed to watch the show.
Would you let your sons go on the show?
KF: Yeah, maybe it’s a double standard in that I think I would. I see a lot of good things on this show. I see a lot of camaraderie, a lot of friendships made, a lot of self-exploration, and I see [these guys] asking questions and figuring things out about themselves. It’s really a beautiful thing. So I think if you’re outgoing and an up-for-anything type of person, I would say it’s a great experience.
Is there a piece of advice that you wish you could give these contestants? Even if their mistakes make for good TV, what would your one piece of advice be to them?
KF: You have to really, really bring your true self, because that’s the only way you’re going to stick around. If you become friends with the rest of the house, then your focus really isn’t where it should be. It’s a balance. I think some of the guys on The Bachelorette can’t figure out that balance quick enough and just fall behind.
Like poor Grocery Store Joe.
KF: Yeah, yeah, right. And then there are guys that go to the other extreme and are like, 'I’m here for her, I’m here for her, I’m here for her,' and they make no effort to just be a regular guy. You don’t have to make best friends, but you might as well make friends since you’re going to be living and traveling with them hopefully.
Finally, with all the time you spend on set, do you ever bring home extra roses to your wife?
KF: Oh man, I tried that early on. I don’t know, not all women like leftover roses. They’re a little cheesy. But on our studio [reunion or tell all] shows, where we have roses everywhere, sometimes an arrangement will wind up in my car. I’m not too proud. Yeah, free is me. [Laughs]
The new season of The Bachelor premieres on ABC on Monday, January 7.
Published at Mon, 31 Dec 2018 18:00:00 +0000