The Brains Behind 'The Bachelor'
Lacey Rose, 07.31.09, 04:00 PM EDT Mike Fleiss is known as the evil genius of reality TV. For good reason.
Los Angeles -- In the last decade Mike Fleiss has served up Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire
and newcomer More to Love
. He sat down with Forbes this week. Forbes: What role should controversy play in realty television? Fleiss:
I think you need a little bit of controversy to make any show go. Look at Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian--where would those girls be without their sex tapes? The shows that I've had that have been successful have always had a solid dose of controversy. Presumably there is a line?
I think the line is wherever Octomom is standing. That's the one thing I would not do. When there are kids involved is when I can't take it. With adults, they can make their own decisions and are responsibly for themselves; with kids, it's a television producer's job to sort of parent them--but that being said, I would never do the Octomom. TLC's Jon & Kate Plus Eight has garnered controversy, buzz and big ratings. Do you see that and wish it were your show
No, I wouldn't do that show either, maybe because I have kids. Is all press good press?
Certainly all press is good press for ratings but not necessarily for matrimonial harmony. There's a trade-off there. I could never be on one of these shows and I would never have my family on one of these shows. I hope my daughter is never on the Bachelor
show. Now if my son wanted to be a Bachelor, that might be cool … no, I'm just kidding. When casting, who or what are you looking for in a reality star?
Well you always look for someone who is good looking, that's the first thing. And then someone who's not afraid to speak their mind. That unfiltered quality is really what you're looking for because if someone is trying to produce themselves its not a reality TV show anymore. It's a bad scripted show being written by the participants and that's not fun. How has the process changed since you began?
I think it's easier to make these shows now than it was 10 years ago. Now everybody wants to do them--big stars want to be in the game because they know it's the most relevant and evasive media out there today. If you look at the magazine and entertainment shows, it's almost all they talk about. It's probably good news for the Johnny Depps and Leonardo DiCaprios of the world because the media is more interested in The Bachelor
than who those guys are dating. We've seen competition series, game shows, docu-series. What's next?
I think reality has an advantage because it's completely unpredictable--I come from the world of sports and I look at these shows as sporting events. Certainly the ones that have a game element--you don't know how it's going to end. You tune in to see who wins and who loses. I feel like a show like The Bachelor
, which now is coincidentally on ABC on Monday nights where I grew up watching Monday Night Football
, is now sort of become the equivalent of that for women. How much is too much?
I don't know, but if you think about it, where would Fox be without American Idol
? Where would ABC be without The Bachelor
and Dancing with the Stars
? Where would NBC be without The Biggest Loser
and America'sGot Talent
? Where would CBS be without Survivor
? It's a very important part of their business structure. What's the biggest challenge facing the genre?
The challenge is that people will become desensitized to even the craziest characters and storylines--but so far it hasn't really played out that way. It seems to be growing in popularity and I'm sure its here to stay. The Brains Behind 'The Bachelor' - Forbes.com