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'Bachelor' Bias? Lawsuit Alleges Racial Discrimination

Two Nashville men plan to sue ABC and 'Bachelor,' 'Bachelorette' creators

By Tim Molloy

Two Nashville men plan to sue ABC and the creators of "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," accusing the shows of racial bias because they have never featured a person of color in the titular positions in 23 combined seasons.

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Plaintiffs Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson are seeking class-action status for their lawsuit, which they intend to file Wednesday. It will name American Broadcast Companies, as well as Warner Horizon Television, Inc., and executive producer Mike Fleiss, among other defendants.

ABC referred an inquiry to Warner Bros., which declined to comment. A representative for Fleiss did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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In an interview with EW last year, Fleiss said non-white people simply "don't come forward" to take part in the show as often as white people.

"I think Ashley is 1/16th Cherokee Indian, but I cannot confirm," he said of "Bachelorette" Ashley Hebert. "But that is my suspicion! We really tried, but sometimes we feel guilty of tokenism. Oh, we have to wedge African-American chicks in there! We always want to cast for ethnic diversity, it's just that for whatever reason, they don't come forward. I wish they would."

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The lawsuit comes as Portland-based sportscaster Lamar Hurd is campaigning to be the first African-American "Bachelor." He released an online video last month in which he and several friends and associates talk about the qualities that would make him a good candidate.

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The lawsuit also lands just days after TBS' "Conan" noted the lack of African-Americans on the show. Comedian Deon Cole, one of the show's writers, appeared in a skit in which he imagined himself as the first black "Bachelor." Talk about comic timing.

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