Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss explains the show’s success today in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Shorter version: The Bachelor owns the romance field, everyone else can just step aside. He’s right about that.
He also has a favorite word. “Goofball.” As in Reality Steve:
EW: Reality Steve spent most of the season predicting that Chantal will be the winner. Once he owned up to being wrong, fans crowed that he had been `Fleiss’d.’ Did you or anyone involved in the show feed him misinformation?
FLEISS: I wish I could take credit but he duped himself. He’s nuts, a goofball. He says these things with 100 percent conviction but he’s right only half of the time. It doesn’t matter that much to us, it’s just that he acts like he knows everything. He’s the Michele Bachmann of reality TV facts. But the leaks are not really coming from production. They’re coming from former cast members. That’s a hard thing to police. The best way to combat him is to let himself shoot himself in the foot.
The Michele Bachmann of reality tv facts? Ouch! But it’s nice to know Mr. Fleiss has his politics right. Makes me like him more.
As to RS’s sources, he doesn’t sound concerned. He says they aren’t coming from production, but from past contestants, and there’s little control over that. Except I can’t believe he’s not tempted to feed some false information to selective past contestants. What better way to ferret out the leakers, than feed them a highly specific, false piece of info. Then, when Reality Steve runs with it, he’d know where it came from. I’m not entirely convinced that’s not what happened this year with RS being wrong about Chantal. In which case, Fleiss knows perfectly well who RS’s source was on that one.
Who else is a goofball according to Fleiss? Chantal’s new boyfriend. He confirms Chantal turned down being the Bachelorette.
EW: Did you ask Chantal O’Brien?
FLEISS: Yeah, Chantal quite possibly would have been our bachelorette, if she hadn’t not, quote-unquote,’ fallen in love with some goofball in Seattle. I’m sure they’ll be together forever.
Another revelation from Fleiss: They won’t be going back to unknowns, but will continue to pick future contestants from their in house stables.
And on the lack of ethnic diversity: “Oh, we have to wedge African-American chicks in there! We always want to cast for ethnic diversity, it’s just that for whatever reason, they doen’t come forward. I wish they would.”
Fleiss says there are more viewers than the ratings indicate:
We did 20 million viewers on Monday and have another cover of People magazine, despite the fact there is some really important stuff going on [in the world]. There’s a degree of absurdity to that. But I think our ratings are way higher. People watch this show in groups.
While I’m not thrilled about Ashley, the vanilla dental school student cast as the next Bachelorette, I’m hopeful the guys she dates and the date locations will make it worth watching. The more money Fleiss and the Bachelor rake in, the more money they can put in the production budget, and that just means a better show for viewers.
EW didn’t ask Fleiss about Brad and Emily and I’m not surprised. I doubt he cares. This is a numbers gamae to him. He just wants people talking about the show. What happens in real life to the participants is hardly his concern. As he says,
You’d be hard pressed to find people in the country who didn’t know what happened on Monday. For a show to be on 10 years, it’s a miracle!
Fleiss, whose 2008 deal with Warner Brothers’ Horizon TV division has made him one ot the most highly paid reality tv producers, can crow all he wants as far as I’m concerned — so long as he keeps delivering, and I’m betting he will.
The Bachelorette starts shooting tonight in LA and begins airing on May 23.