Trafficking Among Dream Bachelors

Nov 10, 2003  •  Post A Comment

As the creator of ABC’s “The Bachelor” franchise, Mike Fleiss hit the heights-or the depths, depending on your perspective-as one of Hollywood’s hottest television producers.
From the start this unscripted series built around one man-and later, one woman in spinoff “The Bachelorette”-selecting his true love from among 25 hopefuls gave ABC the ratings injection it sorely needed. It’s been a powerhouse in attracting women. Each installment consistently scored as a top 10 performer among females age 18 to 49. In “The Bachelor’s” current incarnation, its fourth, it ranks third among female viewers overall; 64 percent of its audience are women 18-plus.
Mr. Fleiss, 39, dreamed up the show with women in mind. He’d lived through the embarrassing debacle of Fox’s “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire,” his first outing in reality television. He did not want that to happen again. But he longed to create another show with similar energy and romance. “The Bachelor” concept popped into his brain, fully formed. “Within seconds I’d pretty much seen the whole thing in my head, the roses and everything,” he said.
Mr. Fleiss’s business sense also kicked in.
“I knew this was a show that would appeal to women,” he said. “Women are in some ways more valuable viewers, not just because they tend to spend more money, but because they are more dedicated to the programs they watch.”
Mr. Fleiss believes the show’s appeal lies in its elaborate romantic fantasy dates, tempered by the common emotion of heartache.
“I wanted it to have a bigger, larger-than-life, dream date sort of quality,” he said.
Early on, the show took its licks from feminists who found its concept demeaning to women or appallingly old-fashioned. Mr. Fleiss shrugged off the criticism, even found it useful from a promotional standpoint. Women apparently shrugged it off, too, since it hasn’t stopped them from tuning in.
Mike Fleiss
Job title: Owner of Next Entertainment and executive producer, ABC’s “The Bachelor”
Date of birth: April 14, 1964
Place of birth: West Covina, Calif.
Length of time in current gig: 5 years
Why him? During the first five weeks of this season, 64 percent of the viewers for “The Bachelor” have been adult women, according to Nielsen Media Research figures provided by the ABC Network. That’s the second-highest adult female composition of any prime-time entertainment series this season.