Mike Fleiss, the creator of the iconic reality series The Bachelor, has announced he is departing the franchise after 21 years at its helm.
The producer, who launched the reality TV phenomenon in 2002, will be replaced by three showrunners already affiliated with the franchise – Claire Freeland, Jason Ehrlich and Bennett Graebner, according to Variety.
In a statement obtained by the outlet, Fleiss, 58, extended his congratulations to the latest winning couple, Zach Shallcross and Kaity Biggar, before announcing his departure.
‘First and foremost, congratulations are in order for Zach and Kaity. I wish them a long and happy life together,’ he said. ‘I want to thank WBTV and ABC for 21 extraordinary years.
‘They’ve found the perfect creative team for me to entrust ‘The Bachelor’ franchise and keep this lightening in a bottle bold and moving forward. Let the journey continue.’
Mike Fleiss, the creator of the iconic reality series The Bachelor, has announced he is departing the franchise after 21 years at its helm
The three new showrunners stepping in for Fleiss all have experience with The Bachelor and it’s various spin-offs.
Freeland previously served as a showrunner for The Bachelor Canada, Ehrlich has worked on numerous season of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Bachelor Pad, while executive producer Graebner has worked on all the shows in the franchise for over 15 years, according to Variety.
The announcement comes four year after Fleiss was accused of attacking his wife Laura, which he denied. She obtained a temporary restraining order against him, and they filed for divorce, only to reconcile. The restraining order was also dropped.
At the time, Warner Brothers, the studio behind The Bachelor, announced they were looking into the ‘serious allegations’ against Fleiss. In August 2019, ABC shared Mike would continue with the franchise.
‘The charges have been dropped and from what we understand and were told, the situation was resolved amicably between the parties. So given that, it does not affect production on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette in any way that we know of,’ ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke said at the time.
Fleiss launched the hit series back in 2002 with their very first Bachelor, Alex Michel, and host Chris Harrison, who remained with the franchise for years before his departure in 2021 following a controversy.
The show evolved over the years with their female-led spin-off, The Bachelorette, debuting in 2003. Trista Rehn, the very first Bachelorette lead, recently celebrated 22 years of marriage with her final rose pick, Ryan Sutter.
The success of the show led to spin-offs Bachelor Pad, Bachelor Winter Games, and the wildly popular Bachelor In Paradise.
Reality phenomenon: Since launching The Bachelor in 2002, the show has evolved with numerous spin-offs including the wildly popular Bachelor In Paradise (pictured)
Even early in the pandemic, filming continued on The Bachelorette in Palm Springs with numerous precautions taken to ensure safety.
Fleiss was already working in reality TV before becoming synonymous with The Bachelor – he created the Fox show Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?
But not everyone was a fan of Fleiss during his reign.
Former Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe claimed Fleiss prevented her from appearing on Dancing With The Stars after her season aired, and Fleiss even famously had a spat with Kelly Ripa.
Hit series: The Bachelor has been on the air since 2002
Looking for love! Michelle Young, the season 18 Bachelorette, with her final rose pick and then-fiance, Nayte Olukoya