Lawsuit accusing ABC of racial bias in 'The Bachelor' dismissed

Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:50pm EDT
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By Tim Ghianni

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - A federal judge has dismissed a civil rights lawsuit filed by two black men who said they were rejected for the starring role of "The Bachelor" on the popular ABC reality television show because of their race.

The discrimination suit filed by Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson in Nashville federal court argued that ABC had never cast a person of color - African-American, Hispanic or Asian - in the show's central role as a matter of policy.

The men's goals were "laudable," but the rights of the show's producers to control their creative content are protected by the First Amendment, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger ruled on Monday in dismissing the case.

Claybrooks and Johnson had sued ABC, which is owned by Walt Disney Co, Warner Horizon Television Inc, which produces the show, Next Entertainment Inc, NZK Productions Inc and executive producer Michael Fleiss in April.

"We felt from the outset this case was completely without merit and we are pleased the court has found in our favor," WB Entertainment spokesman Paul McGuire said on Tuesday. Warner Bros. is a unit of Time Warner Inc.

An attorney representing Claybrooks and Johnson could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The two reality shows in question, "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," follow a man or woman's search for a mate that is chronicled through dates with a couple of dozen contenders until a selection is made on the season-ending episodes.

Claybrooks, a former college football player and an entrepreneur, and Johnson, a teacher and football coach, said when they filed their lawsuit that their auditions for the show were perfunctory compared with those for the potential white bachelors.   Continued...