It looks as if Ben Flajnik didn't have to leave his heart in San Francisco after all.
Normally ABC's hit reality TV show The Bachelor is filmed in and around Los Angeles, until the lead narrows his pickings down to just several candidates. Then he and the remaining women take off on a whirlwind trip to hometowns and exotic locations.
Perhaps the show needed to shake things up this season, because Bay Area native Ben Flajnik began his "journey" (a hallmark Bachelor cliché) in San Francisco this weekend and wraps up shooting Thursday.
But Christine Munday, the San Francisco Film Commission's filming supervisor, said she could not confirm The Bachelor was filming here -- only that NZK Productions bought a permit to film a production called William and Kate, which we think would attract more attention than Flajnik and his 15 or so unknowns, but okay.
Flaknik's cover was blown yesterday when he was spotted on a date with a production crew in tow in the Marina on Chestnut Street.
Munday said the production team filmed B-roll -- or background shots -- all over the city last weekend.
To protect the integrity of the show -- some people really don't want it spoiled ahead of its January premiere date -- we can't tell you exactly where Flajnik and the other women will be the rest of the week, but we can give you some clues. Also, leaking their whereabouts would require the show to hire more security, according to Munday.
In general terms, Munday said filming will take place in Nob Hill and "along the waterfront," around the Embarcadero. Additionally, Flajnik will take a chartered tour of the city that includes stops at popular shops and "a bar that's a local favorite." It's not a lot to go on, but we have faith in you diehard Bachelor fans.
Susannah Greason Robbins, the executive director of the film commission, said she's not sure why the show decided to come north so early in the season, but hopes more shows follow its lead.
"We are encouraging more unscripted television programming in the city. They spend large amounts of money here for a short amount of time, so the inconvenience is very low to the general public," she said. "These shows go all over the world and act as a postcard for San Francisco, which ultimately brings in more tourism."
This afternoon, in fact, the Board of Supervisors will vote on Supervisor Mark Farrell's legislation to extend rebates to reality shows and unscripted television.
Scripted TV shows that film in San Francisco are already eligible for rebates up to $600,000 if they meet certain requirements. They can get a substantial amount of money back if an episode's budget is more than $3 million and 65 percent of it is shot in the city, or if the budget is less than $3 million and 25 percent of it is filmed here.
The Bachelor is not currently eligible for the rebate. The show has spent $300 per day for its permit to film, and additional costs that include hiring security and street closure fees.