If Tyler Harcott decides to quit his day job, he could probably land a gig with Cirque du Soleil.
Sworn to secrecy while living in the lap of luxury here last spring, Harcott pulled off the ultimate balancing act.
As host of The Bachelor Canada, which premières Wednesday at 9 p.m. on Citytv, the affable Edmonton-born TV personality juggled his skills as comedian, communicator and sounding board atop Bear Mountain.
"I'm a pretty comedic guy with high energy and I love to make people laugh," says Harcott, relaxing in the sun-drenched living room of the bachelorettes "mansion" - the luxurious 13,500-square-foot home once owned by ex-NHLer Len Barrie, former head of the Bear Mountain resort development.
"On a show like this it's tempered. It has to be because you're trying to be delicate with people's emotions."
It helped that the New York-based personality whose other hosting credits include TLC's Junkyard Wars and Miss America: Countdown to the Crown, when he lived on a cruise ship with 50 would-be beauty queens, has an emotional side himself.
He says it helped him become a better "wing man" to the Canadian bachelor, ex-CFL receiver Brad Smith, and to relate to 25 bachelorettes who could potentially become Smith's fiancÃ©e.
"I cry at Walmart openings. I say, 'People are going to have jobs, it'll be good for the community,' " laughs Harcott. "I jest, but I am emotional and I think it serves me well here because you have to have empathy for people, especially when they're going through a trying time, and there are plenty of trying times on a show like this.
There's lots of unexpected emotion."
As dreamy as it was schmoozing with "devastatingly beautiful" bachelorettes including a Playboy model and a neuroscientist at the five-bedroom home with an Infinity pool, home theatre and stunning views, it was uniquely challenging.
"It's a fine line, because it's not my show. It's about the bachelor and his journey of love."
Describing himself as "a conduit to the audience," Harcott, 43, had to ask some tough questions and move things along.
"Sometimes I have to play shrink and sometimes I have to be Mike Wallace," he said, reflecting on his interaction with Smith.
"Brad knows it comes from a good place. I'm not there to make him look like an ass."
Knowing when to say something, or to keep quiet and "let things breathe" is essential, he says.
"You either have timing or you don't. I don't think it's anything you can teach," says the host, adding producers don't tell the bachelorettes what to say or do.
"The drama creates itself. If you put 16 women in a room you just have to sit back. There's going to be drama," he said. "That's the trick of a great field producer - knowing which thread to pull on, and seeing where it takes you."
What's the biggest difference between hosting The Bachelor Canada and Junkyard Wars, where contestants build a working machine using scrap-heap materials?
"My wardrobe has improved," quips Harcott. "I don't look like a character from Logan's Run. Seriously, I think there's a lot more at stake here. We're dealing with people's emotions and hearts."
He said he hopes The Bachelor Canada will be appreciated as much as the American franchise.
"One thing we can't replicate is American sensibility," he says. "They're more in your face and Canadians are more reserved. I think in some ways we suffer from humility. We've made it as Canadian as we can without losing the feel of the American show."
He hopes people aren't expecting "a second-rate production" just because "Canada" is attached, however.
"I have never been so proud to put my name on something," Harcott says, elaborating on a topic he's passionate about.
"Canadians have to stop looking at our TV shows like we're making The Littlest Hobo, with all due respect," he says. "That show set us back about 100 years television-wise.
"We have to stop apologizing for making great TV shows. We have to stop calling them 'Canadian' shows. We have to 'own the podium' as far as film and television production goes."
Both Harcott and Smith are relieved they no longer have to keep "Victoria's Secret" - that the Bear Mountain home was a beehive of activity inhabited by bachelorettes shadowed by camera crews for weeks, with side trips to exotic locations.
"It's hard, especially when people ask what you're working on but you have to protect the integrity of the show," said Harcott, noting non-disclosure agreements about the location and developments were essential - and typical.
"It's like trying to find out who shot J.R., or finding out whether it's a boy or a girl," said Harcott, reflecting on the need for secrecy.
"Everybody in the country should know at the same time."
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