Born in 1964, TV producer Mike Fleiss' second cousin is Heidi Fleiss, the infamous ex-Hollywood madam.

Fleiss has produced such TV shows as "The Bachelor," "Before They Were Stars," "Million Dollar Mysteries," "Battle of the Child Geniuses," and "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire." That Fox special drew great ratings but became a scandal when it was revealed that the producers failed to discover a restraining order in groom Rick Rockwell's past.

I met Mike Fleiss in late 1999 when I auditioned for the Multi-Millionaire show.

"It's true what they say, man," Fleiss said of the TV business during an interview in his office last week, where framed posters on the wall suggest his cultural influences (Jimi Hendrix, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"). "They don't care. If you've got what they want, they'll buy it." (LA Times, 11/20/02)

Fleiss grew up in Fullerton and attended UC Berkeley, where he studied journalism.

He got his first real job in television in the early '90s, writing stunts for the Fox show "Totally Hidden Videos." He was 26 years old with a pregnant wife.

"Fleiss proved adept at canvassing the country for videotape, cold-calling and trolling the Internet for footage to license, something you could package as, say, Fox's "World's Scariest Police Shoot-outs." In the course of his early travels in the frontiers of shock TV, he befriended others who today play a big role in the genre -- Mike Darnell, Fox's executive vice president of alternative programming and specials, and Bruce Nash, with whom Fleiss worked on such shows as "Breaking the Magicians' Code," before the two had a falling out and became rival producer/salesmen. A former Fleiss show staffer summed up his talents this way: If anyone could pitch a show in which you either win a Range Rover or get killed on national TV, it's Fleiss." (LA Times, 11/20/02)

Fleiss wears shorts and flip-flops around the office.