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City Honors grad was in the room where reality show moment of the year happened

With apologies to "Hamilton," City Honors graduate Bennett Graebner was in the room when it happened.

I'm talking about the big reality show moment of the year.

Graebner, who is one of the showrunners of ABC's "The Bachelor," witnessed the breakup that rocked Bachelor Nation more than a week ago and sparked a hilarious parody on "Saturday Night Live" a few nights later.

In a sense, it was a parody of a program that many people think is just a parody of itself.

Now I understand why some people are offended by the program and think some participants make the Kardashians seem like brain surgeons.

I mean, seriously, who would pick a lifelong mate from all the women fighting for a Bachelor's or Bachelorlette's attention and jockeying for position in front of a national television audience?

However, the show is a demographic hit, primarily with young adults who grew up by sharing their secrets on social networks.

So everyone who regularly watches the reality series is talking about the debacle in which Arie Luyendyk Jr. ditched the first woman he proposed to, Becca Kufrin, and wouldn't leave her alone afterward in a "Bachelor" episode filmed several weeks ago.

The breakup aired the day before he proposed in the live follow-up episode to the runner-up, Lauren Burnham, who he apparently couldn't get out of his mind.

In the "SNL" parody, Kate McKinnon played special prosecutor Robert Mueller explaining to a brokenhearted Becca (played by Cecily Strong) that he just hasn't been able to find anything to remove President Trump from office. If viewers hadn't seen "The Bachelor," they might not have understood what was so funny about Mueller refusing to leave in the same way as Arie. They also might have been inspired to find the episode On Demand so they could get the joke.

It wasn't a joke to "Bachelor" fans so I emailed Graebner, the producer who considers himself the dad of the program. He confirmed he was with Arie when he broke off his engagement with Becca several weeks ago.

Graebner told me that the breakup was filmed on a January day I was supposed to meet him at a party for the Television Critics Association in Pasadena, Calif.  I interviewed him a few days later.

"When we met I told you that things were busy, but of course I couldn’t tell you why!" wrote Graebner.

"Yes, I was there. I was with Arie that day. We had lunch before he went over to see her, and we drove over together. He was distraught."

Graebner talked with Arie before the breakup, as he often does with Bachelors and Bachelorettes.

"It’s hard to give anyone advice in that situation, regardless of whether or not it is on television," he said. "I simply told him to be honest and kind with her, and to ultimately follow his heart. I believe he did.

"The breakup was tragic. Becca was blindsided, of course, but that is often the case in any relationship. And I consider both of them friends, so to see them go through such emotional turmoil was painful. Many of us there that day behind the camera were in tears.

"I was a little surprised by the outcry over Arie’s handling of the breakup. As we drove off, he was despondent. We didn’t talk much on the way back to his hotel. I know he’s been criticized for not being emotional during the breakup, but if you know Arie like I know Arie you could see that he was actually very emotional. His skin became blotchy, he didn’t know what to say. He might not have broken down, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t distraught.

"Some viewers were upset that the breakup was filmed. Yet, this is what happens on 'The Bachelor.' You have relationships and you agree to have those relationships recorded. Sometimes they end beautifully, sometimes they end tragically. But they are always real people in real situations struggling with real emotions."

Becca seems to have landed on her feet quicker than many people who experience a breakup – with another TV show as  "The Bachelorette."

"As for Becca, she is a strong, smart woman who knows what she wants," wrote Graebner. "The choice to make her 'The Bachelorette' was an easy one. I’m excited to help her on her journey to find her husband."

While some angry "Bachelor" vowed to never watch the program again, don't count on it.

The episode following the breakup struck ratings gold, reportedly tying an episode of NBC's megahit "This Is Us" in the key 18-49 demographic nationally.

If anything, Bachelor Nation may come back to root for Becca in bigger numbers when she is "The Bachelorette."

And "SNL" may come back with another parody.

Kate Welshofer has made a quick positive impression on WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) viewers since arriving in late January.

Now she gets a chance to impress a national audience.

Welshofer, who primarily has appeared on Channel 2's "Daybreak" as a feature reporter and occasional co-anchor since arriving from an Albany cable station, will be one of four co-hosts starting Monday on"Daily Blast Live" that airs on the NBC affiliate.

Carried at 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday on Channel 2, "DBL" is a national news and entertainment show produced in Denver by TEGNA, Channel 2's owner.

On a show last Tuesday, the topics addressed by a panel of four included President Trump's firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; his naming of Gina Haspel as his choice for the head of the CIA; the national student protests aimed at changing gun laws; the controversy over the dog who died on a United Airlines flight in which his owners were told to put their pet in the overhead bin; and the "This Is Us" finale.

The Tuesday program, which has humorous elements that would seem to fit Welshofer's personality, had a 4.6 rating on Channel 2. That is decent considering it is up against the syndicated giant "Jeopardy!" The game show had a 13.4 rating on WIVB-TV (Channel 4) Tuesday, which is higher than almost all prime-time broadcast network programs get on a nightly basis.

"DBL" airs live in 36 markets across the country at several different times, depending on the time zone a station is located.

A native Western New Yorker and graduate of St. Bonaventure University, Welshofer will be filling in for a vacationing regular member of the "DBL" team.


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