'The Bachelor' exec producer on Internet spoilers: 'It's something that kind of bugs us'
As ABC announced last week, Bachelor producers are busy preparing for the Jason Mesnick-Molly Malaney nuptials on March 8 — the first-ever wedding to come out of the seven-year-old series (Ryan and Trista Sutter met on The Bachelorette). But in some ways, the wedding opens old wounds for producers — specifically how the spoilerific blog realitysteve.com, run by Steve Carbone, accurately revealed last year that Mesnick would first propose to Melissa Rycroft and then dump her for Malaney on a shocking After the Final Rose special. So far this year, Carbone’s blog has already leaked several details about the latest season of The Bachelor starring Jake Pavelka (pictured), including locations of dates, which contestants received “date roses,” and who would be sent home. He’s even posted spoilers about who he claims will be the final two women standing, and who ultimately gets the final rose.
“That’s something that kind of bugs us,” executive producer Mike Fleiss told EW exclusively. “In some ways, it’s just more promotion. We would like to find out [who his source is].” While Fleiss says the show has taken extreme measures in the past to track down leaks — “We spent a lot of money and we hired these guys from the Israeli secret service to shake down people and look at phone records and stuff like that. We ultimately found out who it was. That person no longer works for us.” — he has not gone to such lengths to suss out Carbone’s mole. “We would love to know if anyone knows [who the source is]. I’m offering a $25 reward!” Fleiss’ laissez-faire approach to the leak is due in part to the fact that the realitysteve.com spoilers did not keep fans from tuning in to Jason’s season: The After the Final Rose bombshell scored 17.5 million viewers last March.
As for Carbone, the blogger says he relies on several tipsters who “just fell into my lap.” A former sports talk deejay from L.A. — he’s now living in Texas while working as a national sales rep for home furnishing companies — Carbone says that while he wouldn’t want to read spoilers on his favorite shows like Survivor or American Idol, he likes to “one up” The Bachelor simply because he can. “I don’t go looking for this stuff, it comes to me because I’m willing to throw the show under the bus,” he explains, adding that he’s never received a complaint from ABC or Fleiss. Since his site gets only about 400,000 to 500,000 page views a week, Carbone doesn’t believe it impacts the show negatively. “I spilled everything about this season on Jan. 6, and I don’t think the ratings have suffered. People are still watching because they want to see it play out.”
And (once again), he’s right about The Bachelor: The audience for the Feb. 1 episode grew by 200,000 viewers for a total of 11.7 million, and the show is up 10% in viewers versus the same time last year.
To hear more from Fleiss on the Mesnick-Malaney nuptials, pick up the next issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Feb. 5.