'The Bachelor' invades Sonoma
CONTESTANTS FOR THE REALITY SHOW, "The Bachelor" awaited their turn to answer questions Friday during filming at the Grinstead Amphitheater.
Sonoma winery entrepreneur Ben Flajnik is destined for more than his minimum allotment of 15 minutes of fame.
Flajnik, the now famously-spurned runner-up on ABC's hit TV reality show, "The Bachelorette," will spend the next several months before the camera, and then hiding from the camera, as the new season of ABC's companion hit, "The Bachelor," goes through production and airs in January. Flajnik was named the next "Bachelor" in August after finishing second in his first network show. He and two partners own Evolve winery and sales of the brand's sauvignon blanc soared after he served the wine to his "Bachelorette" love interest during an on-camera date.
Premise of the new show is a simple formula involving red roses and hot dates with what appears to be a remarkably homogeneous array of young women vying for his affection, his weekly rose and, for the presumably lucky winner, a proposal of marriage.
What appeared to be a majority of those young women, if not all of them, could be found on the Sonoma Plaza Friday during a many-hours-long, simultaneous series of video shoots in which prospective candidates for Ben's long-term affections underwent interviews that will be stitched into the fabric of the unfolding show. Cameras were rolling at five or six spots around the Plaza lawn and Flajnik himself was being taped behind City Hall.
One director of the production crew, who was only identified as "Sean," would not give his last name, his title, the duration of the shoot, the number of women going on camera or any other detail, large or small, about the production.
He described the "Bachelor" production process as "much bigger than any feature film I've worked on," and said confidentiality about the shooting process, the story line and, of course, the outcomes of each episode, week-by-week, was key to the show's success.
Crew members were so concerned about their privacy that they demanded that Index-Tribune staff not photograph or video the activities taking place in plain sight on the Plaza, in the midst of scores of citizens enjoying the sunny weather. Those demands were not complied with.
And a woman who identified herself as the "studio publicist" for "The Bachelor," left a voicemail message at the Index-Tribune threatening to cut off access to information and interviews if the newspaper staff did not stop shooting the production.
Earlier, the production crew blocked off a portion of First Street East along the Plaza between 10 p.m. Thursday and early Friday morning. Sonoma police said the production company had a permit to shoot, but not to block the entire street.
Police nevertheless accommodated the crew's requests.
The next season of "The Bachelor" debuts in January.