The Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss left the iconic reality franchise following racial discrimination investigation… after producers claimed he ‘lashed out’ at suggestions for a diverse cast
- Fleiss announced he was leaving The Bachelor on Thursday
- But he was investigated for ‘lashing out’ at at attempts to add diverse casts
- He will have no influence but will still be credited on the series going forward
Mike Fleiss, the creator of the long-running reality series The Bachelor, reportedly announced his departure from the series as a result of an investigation over claims of racial discrimination.
Although the 58-year-old producer spun his departure as his own choice and seemed upbeat about the move, sources told Variety that an investigation into his conduct had been launched after several employees who worked on shows in the franchise complained about his behavior.
Sources said that producers accused him of carrying on ‘bullying’ behavior behind the scenes of the show, and they said he had shot down their suggestions for more racial diversity to the usually lily-white cast.
In an email statement to the publication, Fleiss admitted that he ‘could have done more’ without admitting to the more serious contentions, and he said he hopes the series will ‘continue to move in the right direction.’
Sources familiar with the investigation into Fleiss’ conduct said that it was conducted by Warner Bros. TV, and it was launched after multiple employees complained about him to the human resources department.
Bad exit: The Bachelor creator Mike Weiss left the popular franchise this week after a racial discrimination investigation was launched against him, Variety reported on Thursday; seen in 2014 in NYC
In the way: Sources said producers accused him of carrying on ‘bullying’ behavior behind the scenes of the show, and they said he had shot down their suggestions for more racial diversity to the usually lily-white cast; Rachael Kirkconnell and Matt James pictured on The Bachelor
The investigation was handled by an outside party over the past few months, and once it began, producers currently working on the show and former production staff members were interviewed.
Notably, the people interviewed weren’t just less-senior individuals, but also high-profile producers who had worked on The Bachelor, as well as its sibling reality shows The Bachelorette and Bachelor In Paradise.
The investigation was apparently unfavorable to Fleiss, and he reportedly left as a result of it.
Producers described a tense atmosphere when the creator was around, and they accused him of ‘bullying’ his co-workers while putting his foot down when it came to attempts to add more people of color to various Bachelor franchise casts.
According to the sources, Fleiss would shut down suggestions from other staff and then ‘lash out’ against them.
‘People said he would retaliate against people for having minorities and Black people on the show. He favored certain people over other people,’ one person familiar with the investigation said.
‘He would say, “Minorities don’t get ratings.”‘
Fleiss contract with Warner Bros. was up for renewal in late 2022, around when the investigation reportedly began. Although there was apparently talk of trying to make a new deal with him, the material that came up in the investigation put an end to those talks.
Employees were reportedly no
Troubling: One person familiar with the investigation claimed that Fleiss had said, ‘Minorities don’t get ratings’; seen in 2014 in NYC
Playing favorites: ‘People said he would retaliate against people for having minorities and Black people on the show,’ the same source said; Rachel Lindsay and Bryan Abasolo on The Bachelorette
Changes: Rachel Lindsay became the first person of color to star on The Bachelorette in 2017, and Matt James became the first non-white Bachelor star in 2021; seen with Rachael Kirkconnell that year
The Bachelor first aired in 2002, and female-led Bachelorette followed in 2003, but it was until until 2017 that a person of color led one of the shows.
Rachel Lindsay was cast as the lead in The Bachelorette that year, but it would still be four more years before the first person of color — Matt James — was named as the star of the flagship series.
Two more women of color have since led The Bachelorette, and Charity Lawson, who is Black, will become the fourth person of color on the show when her season airs in the summer.
So far, James remains the only person of color to lead The Bachelor.
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