'The Bachelor' creator Mike Fleiss: "There is sex" during the show
By Christopher Rocchio, 03/16/2010
Although numerous The Bachelor and The Bachelorette stars and suitors have denied it over the years, the reality dating series' creator claims the show's stars do typically have sex with several suitors during the show.
"There is sex," said creator Mike Fleiss during last night's Inside The Bachelor: The Secrets Behind the Rose 20/20 special on ABC.
"There's not a ton of it, I think the average is that the guy will end up having sex with about three women during the course of the show."
Fleiss enthusiastically added that The Bachelor fourth-season star Bob Guiney holds the record for "highest batting average" in the history of the show, which tests its participants are tested for sexually transmitted diseases before production begins.
"That's my man Bob Guiney! I think it was five and half," said Fleiss, adding that Guiney had recently appeared as one of Trista Sutter's The Bachelorette first-season suitors before his The Bachelor edition aired, which worked to his advantage.
"Bob had just come off the Trista season of The Bachelorette so his popularity was enormous. I think the women, they were in love with him from the start. I love you Bob!"
In addition to Guiney, Fleiss also heaped praise on Rehn -- who subsequently married her selected suitor Ryan Sutter in December 2003 -- for her non-sexual accomplishments.
"Trista is the all-time greatest," said Fleiss. "Trista's the Hall of Famer. She's the Willie Mays of Bachelorettes and people just love her."
Trista appeared as The Bachelorette's first-season star after finishing as the runner-up during The Bachelor's first season in 2002.
"We weren't sure going into the first season whether the women would really care, we thought there might be a turn-off," explained Fleiss.
"Alex Michel, our first Bachelor, was a brave man. He had no idea what he was getting himself into, neither did the women on his season."
The Bachelor was born out of Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire -- a two-hour special that aired on Fox in 2000 and ended disastrously when it was subsequently learned that star Rick Rockwell wasn't a multi-millionaire and had previously had a restraining order filed against him by an ex-girlfriend.
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"It blew up in massive proportions," said Fleiss about the show. "At that point the president of the Fox network vowed there would be no more reality TV on Fox ever again."
However The Bachelor quickly found a niche among female viewers, whom Fleiss feels love to see painful rejections during each episode's Rose Ceremony.
"Those who don't like to see happy endings like to see other women in misery, and so when the girls start crying they feel 'At least it's not me,'" explained Fleiss.
Chris Harrison -- who has hosted everyThe Bachelor and The Bachelorette installment -- said he was initially against the line he delivers at each Rose Ceremony when there is only one left to be awarded and two or more women vying for it.
"For a while, I really fought it. It was really driving me crazy, everyone knows there's one rose," said Harrison.
"This is stupid, I feel stupid, I don't want to say 'This is your final rose tonight.' But now I embrace it."
Similar to how Harrison has learned to embrace his cheesy line, Fleiss said he has learned to love the fact that a marriage proposal at the end of each season isn't a must.
"I remember doing Season 1 and getting a panicked call from the network and hearing, 'Mike, you've got to do something about this, they aren't falling in love!' That was the initial thought, that we had to have real love and a marriage," he explained.
"But now we know that's not necessarily true, it's really based on whether [the viewers] like the guy and hate the girls."
However Mesnick later dumped Rycroft on-air in favor of Malaney during a taping of the season's After the Final Rose special, and Mesnick and Malaney got married earlier this month.
Rycroft said during the 20/20 special that appearing on The Bachelor was her way of "dealing with my heartbreak" from her split with boyfriend Ty Strickland, whom she married in December.
"It was just a case of getting completely wrapped up in a situation that was kind of humiliating when you look back," said Rycroft of her The Bachelor experience.
"I did not go in thinking I would fall in love and meet the guy I was going to marry. That was not even a question in my mind."
In fact, Rycroft said she wasn't even initially attracted to Mesnick.
"This is going to sound terrible but I wasn't attracted to Jason [at first]. If I was going to meet him on the street and be single, I don't think that we would ever date. But put in the circumstances that we were, I thought he was the greatest thing to drop from heaven," she said.
"It's amazing what happens once you step foot through the walks of that mansion... it kind of warps you a little bit. It turned very much into a competition, you really feel like 'I want to win'"
Rycroft admitted that the competition for Mesnick's heart definitely got the best of her.
"But you're in it because you think you love him and I don't want to be rejected," she explained. "I really thought I did [fall in love with him]."
That's probably why Rycroft said she can't even watch The Bachelor's thirteenth-season finale when she accepted Mesnick's marriage proposal.
"It just makes me 'Bleh,'" she said. "When I look at that girl I see a very damaged girl... a girl who wants so badly to be happy. I cringe."
Rycroft said she knew that there were problems between her and Mesnick only a few days after the finale aired.
"If you were to ask me a handful of questions about him, I couldn't answer them," she said. "I know very little about him, and you're sitting there evaluating your emotions going, 'But you know what, I don't really want to call him, I don't really have a desire to visit him' and you're going 'Something's wrong here.'"
The feeling was apparently mutual for Mesnick, whom Fleiss said called him about having second thoughts.
"We got a call from Jason saying that he was having second thoughts and he wanted to flip," said Fleiss, adding that the decision was made to let viewers in on Mesnick's break-up with Rycroft and reunion with Malaney.
"We didn't want him to spill the beans off-camera so we turned lemons into lemonade in terms of the television program, not necessarily for Melissa. We just went with the truth and we let Jason do what his heart desired."
While Rycroft said she knew her relationship with Mesnick was over before the After the Final Rose special filmed, she was "blindsided" by his announcement that he instead had feelings for Malaney.
"I wasn't innocent, I wasn't a victim. I knew the relationship was over, it was not a break-up on TV," she admitted. "[But] it was Melissa being lied to by everybody and it was a feeling of anger I've never had before. I'm not an angry person and I was just sitting there so mad that everybody lied to me."
Rycroft said she was "absolutely" sandbagged by Mesnick's announcement about Malaney.
"They, at the expense of my emotion, got the episode that they wanted. I don't agree with the way it was done," she said. "I don't think everything has to be on TV to give people closure. Or at least warn somebody when they're about to run into a moving train!"
Fleiss said he understands why the show received criticism for the decision, but also defended it.
"I also know that we're making a television show here that's watched by millions of viewers faithfully," he said. "And to deprive them of that moment would have been unfair."
Executive producer Martin Hilton agreed with Fleiss that the incident had to be televised due to the show's premise.
"It was one of those moments where you feel for your cast in some ways," said Hilton.
"But having set the basic parameters of what the show is -- which is if you sign up for the show it has to be on TV."
Rycroft agreed she "signd up for it."
"I absolutely 100%, without a doubt know I signed up for it," she said.
Rycroft subsequently competed on Dancing with the Stars and launched an entertainment career that has landed her correspondent positions with Good Morning America and Entertainment Tonight -- however she said that the best result of her The Bachelor break-up was that it reunited her with Strickland.
"I don't think Ty and I would be together right now if I hadn't gone [on The Bachelor]," she said.
"What it did was it gave me perspective on my feelings, helped me heal. [And] Ty realized with me gone and with me in a new relationship what I did mean to him."
Womack said he had "a pretty interesting talk" with producers before he made his choice.
"I told them I wasn't going to choose anybody," he said. "They wanted me to pick somebody [and] five or six hours later I still was not going to chose anybody."
Fleiss said the show embraced the unprecedented moment when it presented itself.
"We'd never seen a guy choose no one," said Fleiss of Womack's decision. "Unpredictability is a good element in all these reality shows so I thought 'Wow, just let him blow both of the guys out of the water, I think that might be cool.'"
Hilton said that "everybody was nervous about the moment."
"In the end it was clear that we couldn't force him to do anything, nor would we," he added.
Womack admitted during last night's 20/20 special that he did mislead his final two bachelorettes --especially Pappas, who he told to expect "good news" the night before the final Rose Ceremony when she was dumped.
"I'm the jerk," said Womack during the special, adding that his "good news" comment to Pappas was his biggest regret about his The Bachelor participation.
"I knew it was going to be rough but... it was brutal. I began a bit of a reclusive. I did some self-analysis wondering 'Am I really that bad?' I developed almost a social anxiety."
While Pappas was understandably heartbroken by Womack's decision, she now wishes she would have followed his lead when she subsequently starred on The Bachelorette's fourth season -- instead of accepting a marriage proposal from Jesse Csincsak, whom she broke-up with a few months later.
"After the hurt and the heartbreak, and the sadness and the anger, looking back, I wish I would have done what Brad did and I probably shouldn't have chosen anyone in the end," said Pappas during the special.
"He didn't see a lasting relationship with me or [Jenni Croft] and he stood up for what he thought was right in his mind."
At 20/20's request, Pappas agreed to meet with Womack during the special and tell him that in person.
"It wasn't until I became The Bachelorette and did the show myself that I fully understood," Pappas told Womack.
"I got just crucified and all that, but I didn't want to just do that to either one of us," he answered.
Womack added that the biggest lesson he learned from his The Bachelor experience is that he's "not a sellout."
"I'm really proud, I really am," he said. "A lot of people won't agree with that but I've learned that I'm a little more strong than I at one time thought."
One The Bachelor relationship that seemed destined for a happy ending was between sixth-season couple Byron Velvick and Mary Delgado -- who got engaged during the show's November 2004 finale and remained together for nearly five years before subsequently splitting last September.
"My biggest regret is not marrying a man that I'm in love with," said Delgado during the special. "I know it's strange to here that after everything but I still love him very much."
Delgado said that she was so in love with Velvick that she gave up her entire life to travel with him on his professional fishing tour, a claim he contests.
"No, I wouldn't say that's true. I didn't ask her to give up everything, that was a lot of the reasons we probably had the problems we had," said Velvick during the special.
"You don't want someone to give up their whole world and just be a sidekick to you and I never really asked her to be that and it was unfortunate."
While Velvick refused to say anything "negative" about Delgado, he explained they both have faults that hurt the relationship.
"We're both hard-headed I think, we're probably both stubborn, and we had personalities that a lot of times seemed to be combative," he said.
Delgado -- who was arrested in November 2007 and November 2008 following incidents that allegedly involved alcohol, although charges in both cases were dropped -- also denied that she's an alcoholic.
"What really hurts me a lot is the assumptions that are made out there that I'm an alcoholic or that I'm an abuser or just a bad person," said Delgado. "And I've never been that ever in my life."
Velvick also pleaded the fifth when asked about Delgado's claims that she had been drinking only water before her second arrest.
"I don't want to talk about it," he said. "She's a great girl and I don't want to say anything bad about her."
"I probably discovered that quite some time before that," said O'Connell -- who is back together with Brice and added that he's been attending AA meetings.
Fleiss acknowledged alcohol plays a role in The Bachelor -- from first-night cocktail parties to champagne toasts after each Rose Ceremony -- but said he feels that's similar to real-life dating.
"I don't think it plays any more of a role than it does in dating situations just in general," he said. "It plays a role."
The Bachelor's fourteenth season recently concluded with star Jake Pavelka getting engaged to bachelorette Vienna Girardi -- who has been tabloid fodder since before she accepted Pavelka's proposal.
"I feel like if Jake and Vienna fail, it is not because of their own shortcomings but because of tabloid journalism," said Hilton.
Fleiss noted that Pavelka wasn't even the first choice for The Bachelor's starring role, as producers instead thought the gig should go to Reid Rosenthal -- who like Pavelka, first appeared as a suitor on The Bachelorette.
"We'd hoped to put Reid from last season into the role, but ultimately Jake won out because he was so sincere about wanting to find someone," explained Fleiss, and Harrison agreed.
"[Pavelka] reminds me more of one of our bachelorettes. and I mean that because of his sincerity."
Rosenthal has been dating Miss USA 2009 Kristen Dalton since November.
The Bachelor's fourteenth season also featured the removal of bachelorette Rozlyn Papa -- who was confronted by Harrison prior to the second episode's Rose Ceremony about an alleged "inappropriate relationship" she had with producer Ryan Callahan, who was fired.
"I was told that one of our producers had basically fallen in love with one of the girls and that they were embarking on a romantic relationship while we were in production," said Fleiss.
"We were calling it Project Lemonade because we were taking lemons and turning it into something delicious."
Papa has maintained her relationship with Callahan was not sexual nor even romantic and directly denied new accusations that she engaged in an inappropriate relationship with the former producer during the season's The Women Tell All bachelorette reunion special.
"I saw Rozlyn and the producer kissing on the stairs, it was a shock to me," bachelorette Jessie Sulidis told 20/20, reiterating comments she made during The Bachelor's Women Tell All special.
Fleiss said casting is a crucial part of The Bachelor franchise and explained they look for all types of people.
"We like the quiet, shy, demure type; we like the sort of noisy, loud, obnoxious type; we like the sort of duplicitous type; we like the criers," he said. "We just the smorgasbord of women."
In addition, Fleiss explained casting as the reason for his previous comments about why it's important that viewers hate some of the bachelorettes.
"They don't need to hate all the girls, but we need our fair share of villains every season," he said.
"And now we're very careful in our casting to develop characters that the audience is going to root for and root against."
"We knew that Wes guy was there to sell records and really not to fall in love with Jillian," said Fleiss. "We identified him early on as a potential villainous character."
Hayden was vilified for comments he made about only being on The Bachelorette to help his music career and also that he had a girlfriend throughout filming for the series, as well as an exit comment in which he was shown boasting that he could "stop acting" now.
"[The acting comment] was me being a smart aleck," said Hayden during last night's special. "I did not have a girlfriend, it was totally false [and] I've caught a lot of flack for that."
Still, Hayden said he has "no regrets" about participating in The Bachelor.
While Fleiss claimed Hayden was recognized early on as a villain, The Bachelor creator said "about half" of the suitors need to be there for the "right reasons" in order to have a good show.
"Whether or not someone is there for the 'right reasons,' we really don't know until they start crying," he said.
"If they are crying about losing a guy, or crying because they are happy to be in love with a guy, then you know they are actually sincere."
"Sometimes people slip through, you know what I mean?" added Hilton. "And then if they split through, so be it."
Once they are cast and actually land on the show, competitiveness usually ensues -- which Fleiss said was initially surprising.
"We weren't sure going into the series whether or not women would really care and whether or not they would really compete for the love of one guy who was dating all these women at the same time," he said.
"[But] once we saw girls hyperventilating and what not, we knew it was working."
In addition, Fleiss said it's good when conflict isn't resolved quickly.
"If there's a conflict, we don't want people hugging it out in the first 15 minutes," he said.
Despite all the conflict it causes and all the unhappiness that some of its participants have endured, Fleiss said he'd love for every season to end with an immediate wedding.
"One of my dreams is that a couple will fall so madly in love during the course of production that when it comes time for the final Rose Ceremony they demand a justice of the peace be present and they actually get married right there on the spot," he said.
"Because that was the initial concept of the show. It's a sweet show, it's a show about love and it has a lot of heart."