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Next founder makes waves

Controversy a way of TV life for 'Bachelor' creator

Mike Fleiss thrives on controversy. The founder of Next Entertainment and creator of monster hit “The Bachelor,” he believes that a reality show format must create a cultural hullabaloo to be a successful.

“When ‘The Bachelor’ came out, it was very controversial,” Fleiss says. “Wow, you have a guy dating all these women, and they’re going to be crying and he’s going to be breaking their hearts — you can’t do that,” Fleiss says.

But he had already done outrageous television. In the ’90s, he met and became friends with current Fox reality chief Mike Darnell. The two created “World’s Scariest Police Shootouts” and “Shocking Behavior.”

“These crazy shows had surveillance footage of a bartender stirring a martini with his manhood or people being shot (with a gun) on camera,” Fleiss says.

Tempering his love of taboo with the romance of “The Bachelor” proved to be a magic formula, and he and Darnell have just teamed up for a new twist on it: “More to Love.” The longtime friends are planning projects Fleiss hopes will make watercooler chats boil.

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