Call “The Bachelor” a romantic at heart.
The skein, now in its 10th season and still a ratings force, has long offered up single looking-for-love women vying for a shot at an eligible rose-packing single guy and a fairytale ending.
That’s not always the way it ends up, of course, but no matter who accepts or turns down the rose, the series has become a ubiquitous part of popular culture. It’s a rare week when the contestants or husband-to-be doesn’t end up on the cover of a weekly tabloid.
“The Bachelor” first found a home at Warner Bros.-based Telepictures in 2002. Creator Mike Fleiss and his Next Entertainment moved from Telepictures to Warner Horizon in 2006, making ABC’s popular dating game the first building block for the new company.
“This was our flagship franchise from the start,” recalls Brooke Karzen, senior VP of alternative at Warner Horizon. “When I moved to this division, lucky me walked into a great foundation to build from.”
Fleiss admits, however, the intrastudio move came with some trepidation. He felt he had been well-served by Telepictures’ topper Jim Paratore, who guided him into doing a spinoff, “The Bachelorette,” a format Fleiss thought would never work given male attitudes about competing for a woman.
“I thought the move (to Warner Horizon) could be a disaster,” Fleiss says of leaving Telepictures, but then “they brought in Peter Roth (to meet with me).”
Fleiss praises WBTV president Roth for his attention to detail, people skills and energy that allows him to keep tabs on the plethora of shows currently on the air, including, of course, the nearly 50 from the studio.
“It seems he has every show on television, yet still finds time to study and understand my little show,” Fleiss says.
In 2010 Fleiss added spinoff “Bachelor Pad” after observing a subculture in which former contestants stayed in touch with each other as a support group. Several marriages have come out of relationships between former cast members.
About 25 countries have produced their own versions of “The Bachelor” over the years, and there are about 10 currently in production around the globe, including the U.K., Germany, Ukraine, Belgium, Romania, Russia and Canada.
“(The franchise) not only fits snugly into ABC’s line-up, but it can go anywhere in the world. Love knows no boundaries,” says Horizon Media research analyst Brad Adgate.
Going forward, Karzen says Warner Horizon’s goals are to make the Stateside franchise “stronger and fresher” as well as investigate opportunities for more international expansion.
“We have a mandate of not just selling the format internationally, but flying producers around to make sure the productions are doing well,” she says.
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