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'Bachelor' hopefuls accuse show of race bias

By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 5:16 PM EDT, Tue April 17, 2012
Ben Flajnik was the latest contestant on ABC's hit show
Ben Flajnik was the latest contestant on ABC's hit show "The Bachelor."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two African-American men will file a racial discrimination suit Wednesday, their lawyers say
  • '"Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" producers will be named as defendants, they say
  • "Neither show has ever featured a single person of color in the central role," the lawyers say

(CNN) -- Two Tennessee men who claim they were jilted by "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" shows because of their race will sue the producers for racial discrimination, their lawyers said Tuesday.

The lawsuit will be filed in a U.S. District Court Wednesday "on behalf of all persons of color who have applied for the role of the bachelor or bachelorette but been denied the equal opportunity for selection on the basis of race," they said in a news release.

"Over 10 years and a combined total of 23 seasons of 'The Bachelor' and 'The Bachelorette,' neither show has ever featured a single person of color in the central role of the 'Bachelor' or 'Bachelorette,'" the release said.

A spokesman for ABC, which carries the reality TV series and is named as a defendant, said the network would not comment.

The release said the defendants would also include the shows' executive producer, Michael Fleiss, Next Entertainment, NZK Productions, and Warner Horizon Television.

Warner Horizon Television, which is one of the production companies involved in making the shows, is part of the Warner Bros. Entertainment, a subsidiary of CNN parent company Time Warner.

One plaintiff is Nathaniel Claybrooks, a former college football player who most recently played for the minor league Nashville Storm team. The other is Christopher Johnson, described in the news release only as "an aspiring National Football League player."

Claybrooks and Johnson, both African-Americans, will seek class-action status for the suit, their lawyers said.

The Nashville residents will talk to reporters Wednesday about their lawsuit, they said.

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