“The Bachelor” Mike Fleiss, who announced earlier this week that he was leaving the hit ABC reality franchise, is fighting back a report that he was being investigated for racial discrimination on the dating show when he resigned.
“Since it premiered 21 years ago, times have certainly changed and I have to say we have not kept up with the pace of those changes,” Fleiss said in a statement. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done over the past five years to make the show much more diverse, but I feel I could have done more. Hopefully the franchise continues to move in the right direction.”
ABC and Warner Bros. Television declined to comment.
The statement came in response to a Report in variety that Fleiss’ exit from “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” was prompted by an investigation by Warner Bros. Television, the show’s producers, into allegations of racial discrimination by Fleiss. According to the report, several employees had complained to HR, leading to the investigation.
Fleiss, who did not give a specific reason when announcing his departure on Tuesday, did not directly deny the allegations and did not mention the report in the statement. But he touted the success of the franchise.
“Judging by the number of staff weddings we’ve hosted at our home and the number of tearful messages that blew up my phone when I announced I’d given my last rose, I’m pretty sure that I had more good days than bad days. lifted more spirits than hurt feelings and left the franchise in good hands, with more friends than enemies,” he said.
The Bachelor franchise has been in crisis mode for the past few years, rocked by allegations of racism and bullying against candidates of color; The just-completed season of The Bachelor featured a contestant who had since posted deleted tweets defending a former classmate who posed in blackface. Despite being one of ABC’s most prized assets, it was regularly criticized for cultural insensitivity and a lack of diversity throughout its more than two decades of airing.
The first Black Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, departed from the franchise in 2021 following the season of The Bachelor, which starred her first Black lead, Matt James. The season was mired in controversy when photos of eventual winner Rachael Kirkconnell surfaced at a pre-war Southern-themed party. Then-host Chris Harrison defended Kirkconnell in a fiery interview with Lindsay, stoking the firestorm that eventually led to his exit from the franchise.
Source : www.latimes.com