- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Flipboard
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Tumblr
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
Two days after news broke that The Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss was exiting the franchise that premiered more than two decades ago, he has responded to a report that his departure followed an investigation into racial discrimination, with Fleiss acknowledging that he could have done more to engender diversity.
Variety published a report Thursday stating that Warner Bros. Television, which is behind ABC’s long-running dating franchise, conducted the investigation after several employees lodged complaints against Fleiss that included alleged bullying. Per the report, among those involved in the investigation conducted by a third party were current producers as well as former production staffers, which led to Fleiss’ exit.
In a statement shared with The Hollywood Reporter, Fleiss did not directly address the investigation but said that he should have stepped up efforts to make the franchise more diverse. He stated that he was proud of having worked to make it more inclusive in the past five years, an apparent reference to Rachel Lindsay becoming the first Black lead of The Bachelorette in 2017. In its 27 seasons, The Bachelor has had one Black lead, Matt James, whose season aired in 2021.
“Since its premiere 21 years ago, times have certainly changed, and I’d have to say we didn’t keep up with the pace of those changes,” Fleiss said in his message. “I am proud of the work we’ve done over the past five years to make the show substantially more diverse, but I do believe I could have done more. Hopefully, the franchise will continue to move in the right direction.”
In his statement, Fleiss added that he believed that throughout his tenure he had “more good days than bad, lifted more spirits than hurt feelings,” and that he leaves with “more friends than foe.”
Representatives for ABC and Warner Bros. declined to comment.
On Tuesday, the day after ABC aired the season 27 finale of The Bachelor starring lead Zach Shallcross, Fleiss announced that he was leaving the franchise that launched in March 2002. Spinoff series The Bachelorette debuted the following January, and Fleiss has executive produced later follow-ups including Bachelor Pad, Bachelor in Paradise and The Bachelor Winter Games.
Fleiss had stepped back from active involvement on the shows of late and had not been day-to-day on The Bachelor in the past decade. Claire Freeland, Jason Ehrlich and Bennett Graebner were named executive producers and showrunners for the franchise and have already begun working on the upcoming 20th season of The Bachelorette, which stars Charity Lawson and premieres in June.
“I want to thank WBTV and ABC for 21 extraordinary years,” Fleiss said in his Tuesday statement. “They’ve found the perfect creative team for me to entrust The Bachelor franchise and keep this lightning in a bottle bold and moving forward.”
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day
More from The Hollywood Reporter
Kristen Welker Named New Moderator of NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ as Chuck Todd Set to Exit the Program
The Full Monty
‘The Full Monty’ Star Hugo Speer Says He Was Dropped From Disney+ Spinoff After Runner Saw Him Naked in Trailer
Neil Patrick Harris Says Filming for ‘Uncoupled’ Season 2 Is “on Pause” Due to Writers Strike
Writers Guild Members Get Candid About What Makes This Writers Strike Different Than Previous Ones: “We’re Mad”
The Good Fight
Script to Scene: ‘The Good Fight’ Scribes Detail the Paramount+ Drama’s Final Moments
The Good Wife
Hollywood Flashback: ‘The Good Wife’ Won Showrunners Robert and Michelle King Their First Case