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'Bachelor' candidate from Sewickley Hills goes off script

Thursday, March 26, 2009
 

Megan Parris is bleeping mad about her portrayal as a foul-mouthed crybaby on "The Bachelor."

"It's important for people to understand that what they saw on TV was a character," said Parris, 25, of Sewickley Hills and an assistant coach of the Quaker Valley High School girls lacrosse team. "It wasn't me. It was not at all indicative of who I am as a person. It was complete misrepresentation of who Megan Parris is."

Parris, a 2001 Quaker Valley graduate, said that parts of the ABC reality show are bogus and that producers edited scenes to make her look bad. She spent 2 12 weeks filming in Los Angeles before she was booted in the fourth episode of the show, in which two dozen women compete for an engagement to a handsome bachelor.

"There's nothing real about it," she said of the show's trademark "confessionals," in which contestants talk to the camera about the latest goings-on.

"It is scripted," she said. "They basically will call you names, berate you, curse at you until they get you to say what they want you to say."

Both ABC and Warner Bros., the studio that produces "The Bachelor," had no comment.

But during a teleconference call this month, executive producer Mike Fleiss denied that this season was scripted.

"We don't do that," he said. "We've never done that and we never will do that."

The show came under scrutiny after this season's finale when "Bachelor" Jason Mesnick dumped his original choice, Melissa Rycroft, for runner-up Molly Malaney.

"You know, the good thing about unscripted television is that it's unpredictable, and that's what this was," Fleiss said. "I mean, it caught us off guard, caught the viewers off guard and, you know, that's why unscripted television works."

Parris sees it otherwise.

"It's really hurtful," Parris said. "After I watched the first episode, I literally wanted the earth to swallow me. They made me feel like they were going to make me out to be America's sweetheart. I went into the experience completely naive and trusting and vulnerable. I let myself get completely manipulated."

Parris' on-screen drama and potty-mouth tendencies were the result of editing, she said.

"They chopped up pieces of conversation and did voiceovers," she said. "So they'd show a flash of my face and then they'd flash to something else, but I'd still be talking. So they chopped up different parts of conversations to string them along to make them sound like a sentence. But it's nothing I would ever say."

In network promotions for the show, Parris was seen crying and using foul language, something she said she doesn't do. She admitted to swearing early on, but said later edits did not actually represent swear words.

"From there on out, I was bleeped almost every episode," she said.

Parris said her sister hasn't spoken to her since the show first aired in January. And she's worried what new players on the lacrosse team and their parents will think of her.

"So they know, 'OK, my daughter's going to be a freshman, she's going to play for this girl. This is going to be her coach, we're going to watch her on TV.'

"They used my real name and my real hometown, but created a character out of me that did not accurately represent me at all," Parris said.

Jessica Garavaglia, the head lacrosse coach at Quaker Valley, did not respond to e-mails seeking comment.

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