Earlier this month, several outlets (including this one) reported that fan favorite Katie Thurston had been chosen as the next Bachelorette.
Now, it seems that Katie no longer has the job.
The latest behind-the-scenes drama surrounding Matt James' season of The Bachelor is being kept under wraps, but it seems that producers are scrambling in their efforts to keep viewers interested in the franchise.
And apparently, Katie is not part of that plan.
News of Thurston's ouster comes to us courtesy of Bachelor Nation's king of spoilers, Reality Steve.
“Katie was originally going to be the Bachelorette, and once the sh-t hit the fan with the franchise the last couple weeks, the course of action changed, and they are now in discussions on who to go with," Steve wrote on his blog.
"All I’ve heard is it won’t be Katie now.”
When he talks about the proverbial sh-t hitting the proverbial fan, Steve is of course referring to the recent scandals involving Rachael Kirkconnell and Chris Harrison.
Incidents from Kirkconnell's past -- such as her decision to attend a plantation party in 2018 - have called attention to what seems to be a long history of racial insensitivity.
Harrison defended Kirkconnell's actions in a tone deaf interview with Rachel Lindsay, and the backlash led him to step away from his hosting job for the foreseeable future.
As for the filming schedule, Steve says the show will not be taking any additional time off to sort out these latest snafu.
According to his latest post, “filming has been delayed about a week, so probably third week in March is when it will begin.”
So yeah - we're about a month away from the first day of filming, and producers don't have a Bachelorette or even a host lined up.
The situation has led to wild speculation about who will take Katie's place, and already, a new frontrunner has emerged.
Viewers fall for Serena Pitt early in the season, and many were shocked when she dumped Matt during Tuesday's hometown episode.
Serena lett Matt down easy, but she made it clear that her decision was final.
“I think that it just comes down to the fact that I don’t think that you’re my person," the sole Canadian contestant said to James.
Ironically, taking herself out of the running could help earn Serena a spot as the Bachelorette.
Selecting a contestant who removed herself from the competition eliminates the awkwardness of casting a star who was pining for someone else just a few months ago.
Only Serena and Kit bowed out of Matt's season late in the competition, and the latter made it clear that she's not looking to settle down and tie the knot anytime soon.
(Kinda weird that she auditioned for a show in which the ultimate goal is marriage, but that's a conversation for another time.)
And so, if we had to hazard a guess at this point, we'd say that Serena Pitt is most likely to replace Katie as the star of the show.
Of course, other franchise fan favorites have been mentioned as potential fits for the starring gig in recent weeks.
Even before Thurston was announced, Kelley Flanagan (above) said she would definitely consider handing out roses.
It wasn't offered to her, but now speculation has resumed - Hannah Ann Sluss (below) also has her share of fans.
Where the carousel stops, nobody knows. Serena would still be the favorite in our minds, but one thing is clear:
Bottom line - nothing about this franchise is predictable anymore, so don't go putting any money on it.