Air Date: Monday, January 02, 2012
Time Slot: 8:00 PM-10:00 PM EST on ABC
Episode Title: (#1601-120) "Episode 1601"
[NOTE: The following article is a press release issued by the aforementioned network and/or company. Any errors, typos, etc. are attributed to the original author. The release is reproduced solely for the dissemination of the enclosed information.]



A Senior Citizen Who is Madly in Love with the Bachelor and a Woman on Horseback Mark the Beginning of Ben's Journey to Find His Soul Mate

This Season's Highlights Include Private Concerts by Platinum Recording Artist Matt Nathanson and Country Music Superstar Clay Walker, Romantic Trips to Puerto Rico, Panama and Belize, plus A Spectacular Trip to Switzerland for Seductive Overnight Dates and the Emotional Finale

Millions of viewers were shocked, along with Ben Flajnik (pronounced Flannick), 29, the handsome winemaker from Sonoma, when, after summoning the courage to get down on one knee and offer his heartfelt proposal to Bachelorette Ashley Hebert, she rejected him, sending him off heartbroken and angry. But Ben isn't giving up. He is back as the Bachelor and ready to risk it all again for another chance at love. He begins the search for his soul mate, choosing from among 25 beautiful bachelorettes, when "The Bachelor" premieres MONDAY, JANUARY 2 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET) , on the ABC Television Network. This will be the 16th season of ABC's hit romance reality series.

In "Episode 1601," Ben returns to the mansion for the first big cocktail party. He explains to Chris Harrison that, as painful as his experience was last season, he has no regrets. When Ben began his journey with Ashley, he was emotionally shut down due to his grief over his father's death. Ultimately, he was able to open himself up again to love. Because of that journey, he is a different man and ready to try and find love again.

As the limos pull up, Ben is overwhelmed by how excited these beautiful women are to meet him. An attractive young law student informs Ben that he's been found guilty - of being sexy! A germ-conscious epidemiologist sanitizes both herself and Ben, and then promptly steals the season's first kiss. But nothing can prepare Ben for the moment the limo door opens and a senior citizen steps out. Who is this mysterious septuagenarian, and why is she confessing that she is madly in love with him? And just when it seems he has seen it all, a horse trots up with the last bachelorette in the saddle.

Once inside the mansion, the competition for Ben's attention heats up. An easy-going woman and a sweet divorcee both make an early play for the Bachelor, while the sexy equestrian proves she is equally as charming without the horse. But Ben's older admirer advises him that he needs a family-oriented woman. The pressure mounts when Chris brings out the "first impression" rose, as one woman after another attempts to win Ben's heart and the rose. One athletic woman corners Ben for a quick soccer game; a sassy personal trainer demands he do pushups; a gorgeous model seduces him and a charming scholar demonstrates her "gangsta" side by performing a rap she wrote just for him. But drama erupts when the pressure proves to be too much for one sensitive young woman. Another outgoing bachelorette seems like she might be more interested in one of the other women than in Ben. Gossip flies and the conflict escalates, leaving one woman in uncontrollable tears.

After Ben awards one vivacious beauty the "first impression" rose, he thanks the bachelorettes for calming his nerves. He regretfully must send seven women home, leaving 18 to begin an extraordinary adventure with him.

A list of the bachelorettes will be released shortly.

Romantic and adventurous dates will reach new heights this season, testing the ladies' perseverance in pursuing their romantic objective, along with fun, exciting and exotic dates that will elicit real and raw passions. For the first group date, Ben and 12 of the women audition for and act in a theater production completely run by children. After showing the ladies his hometown of Sonoma, Ben brings the remaining women to his second home, beautiful San Francisco, where one nervous bachelorette struggles to overcome her worst fear when she and Ben scale San Francisco's Bay Bridge. And the daring Bachelor even invites some of the women to ski down the city's rolling streets. One lucky lady is taken on a VIP tour of Ben's San Francisco, which ends with a private romantic concert by platinum recording artist Matt Nathanson at historic City Hall. The pristine mountains of Park City, Utah, are the backdrop for a private concert with country music superstar Clay Walker. A competitive day of fly fishing in a quiet Utah valley forces the women out of their comfort zone. The remaining bachelorettes break out their sun tan lotion and bikinis when Ben whisks them away to tropical Vieques, Puerto Rico, where sparks fly when one sexy woman goes moonlight skinny-dipping with the Bachelor. An exciting trip to the Central American country of Panama leads to a boat ride deep into the Panamanian jungle, where Ben and a group of women spend the day with a local tribe. Then it's on to the lush tropical paradise of Belize. One nervous bachelorette jumps from a helicopter into Belize's famous Great Blue Hole. A fun-filled catamaran adventure turns to panic when the women discover they are going swimming with sharks. Finally, after spending passionate weeks in the hot tropics, Ben brings his final three women to Switzerland for a dramatic change of scenery for the exotic dates and the finale. Despite the storybook setting, Ben starts to question his decisions. Will he miss his chance for a happy ending again?

As in the past, women will continue to be eliminated each week, but if at any point along the way a woman should decide that she's no longer interested in the Bachelor, she can reject his invitation to continue dating. Some lucky women will meet his family, and he will visit their hometowns for a slice of their lives in an effort to determine the woman with whom he is most compatible.

Hosted by Chris Harrison, "The Bachelor" is a production of Next Entertainment in association with Warner Horizon Television. Mike Fleiss and Martin Hilton are the executive producers.

This episode of "The Bachelor" will be available on ABC.com the day after airing on the network for users to watch online. For more information on "The Bachelor" visit ABC.com.

"The Bachelor" is broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC's selected HDTV format, with stereo sound. A parental guideline will be assigned closer to the airdate.

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