DMN' Exclusive: Dallas pilot Jake Pavelka is on cloud nine as 'The Bachelor' | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Latest News[/url]
Darla Atlas is a Fort Worth freelancer. E-mail her at darla firstname.lastname@example.org
Jake Pavelka doesn't quite believe his life these days.
Jake Pavelka's season of The Bachelor premieres Jan. 4.
View larger Photography Photo store After losing out on Jillian Harris' season of The Bachelorette, the commercial pilot from Dallas won enough viewers' hearts to put him in control of the rose-giving. His season of The Bachelor premieres Jan. 4.
"I'm having a hard time convincing myself this is actually happening," Pavelka, 31, said in an exclusive phone interview before a round of national press calls today. "I'm just me!"
The Denton native first got involved in the never-ending franchise in 2008, after a friend at Covenant Church in Carrollton asked if he could nominate Pavelka for the show. When the opportunity arose to do a second season, "I said, 'Gosh, yeah!' "
That "gosh, yeah" personality was adorable and swoon-worthy to some Bachelorette fans, and off-putting to others. But Pavelka shrugs off his critics.
"You could be Superman and people will break you apart," he says. If someone approaches him and starts to tell him what he or she read online, "I say, 'Stop right there, I don't need to know.' Because it's hurtful."
In person, he's feeling nothing but love from fans, many of whom are passengers who greet him as they deplane. (Pavelka is a captain and airline flight instructor for Atlantic Southeast Airlines, a Delta Connection carrier.)
"Everything's been so flattering," he says. "I'll go to different airports in different parts of the country, and there are really great people going, 'Hey, so glad you came back.' That's really humbling."
Pavelka is keeping up the proud tradition of having a Dallas-area resident on nearly every season of The Bachelor franchise, not to mention claiming its host, Chris Harrison, as one of our own. He says there's a reason Texas is a hotbed for reality-TV romance.
"I may be flattering myself just a little bit, but I like to think it's the Southern hospitality," Pavelka says. "That would be my excuse. People are not better or worse anywhere, but here maybe they're a little more heartfelt."
So he could have opted to stick around town to find love on his own after losing Harris. But Pavelka believes in the show's mission.
Yes, "it has had a bit of a rocky history in the past," he says of the show's few lasting romances. "There's no reason to dance around that."
On the other hand, "they were doing everything they could to find the perfect guy for Jillian – to find that 60-year marriage," he says. "When you see what's involved in casting, they don't cast for a show, they cast for a relationship. It's quite contrary to what most people think."
And he says the relationships are very real. The show's rules for having no contact with the outside world "make these emotions possible in an accelerated setting. Everything is absolutely 100 percent real, raw emotion."
Then again, Pavelka admits, once you're left roseless, "it hurts like crazy – but a couple of weeks go by, and you fall back out of love at the same rate you did going in."
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Many viewers experience the same emotions as they watch the show. "I'll never watch again!" is an oft-repeated refrain if the final couple isn't to their liking.
But they usually watch again. Though he couldn't disclose details from the already-taped season, Pavelka promises that viewers will be entertained.
"I can confidently say that everything will spool up really nice and tight in episode one," he says. "It's going to put you on a cliffhanger right at the very beginning."
He recalls the events of that night and says, "Ooh, it tugs at your heart a lot, going through that. But it's going to be really entertaining."
So how happy is he with his decision to be The Bachelor? Pavelka is coy with his reply.
"I went into it with very basic expectations and I was open to anything that was going to happen, any suggestions the crew had along the way," he says. "I went into it on cloud nine, and I never came off cloud nine."
Darla Atlas is a Fort Worth freelancer.