The last time that I saw Bernard Chevry, who died on Friday, May 17 in his Paris home, was in 2013, when Reed MIDEM honored him for the 50th anniversary of MIP-TV, the market that he created. We hadn’t seen each other in 26 years — not since he sold MIP-TV and left the scene — yet Chevry was courteous to me. It wasn’t always like that.
I first met Chevry at MIP-TV in 1979 when I served as International Editor of Television/RadioAge. But years later, in 1983, when my VideoAge Daily at NATPE ran an ad for the Monte Carlo TV Market, Chevry was so upset that he tried to ban me from MIP.
And I wasn’t Chevry’s only target. Recalled the late Norman Horowitz: “It was in 1971 that I attended my first MIP-TV while at Screen Gems. To call the exhibition space at ‘the old Palais’ inadequate would be an understatement. To compensate for that we rented a salon at our hotel (The Carlton) and imported a Sony player and cassettes of all of our pilots for all of our ‘important screenings.’”
All was well, Horowitz said, “until we were asked to see the market director general Bernard Chevry. He said that he was happy that we rented space at the Palais, but that many were complaining that we were taking people away from the market to the hotel. We explained that the screening space at the Palais was horrid and he offered us his space for the next market, which we happily accepted. Everything was fine until Bernard, wishing to have the last word, said to us as we were leaving: ‘And just in case you change your minds about what we had agreed, I’ll have you banned from the city and make it impossible to obtain hotel rooms.’ ”
Horowitz noted that he and his colleagues had had a “history of being threatened by our clients, but none of us had ever been threatened by a supplier. We did not return to MIP-TV. We stayed out of the market until, as I recall, 1979. While it was lovely coming to Cannes, Bernard was not going to mess with us.”
The unpronounceable “Marché International des Programmes de Television,” mercifully abbreviated to MIP-TV, was started in Lyon, France in 1963 by Chevry — then a charismatic 41-year-old publisher — three years after MIFED, the world’s first audiovisual market, was started in Milan, Italy. The first MIP-TV was attended by 119 companies from 19 countries.
Chevry, born November 3, 1922 in Melun, a town 40 kilometers south of Paris, was originally involved in the publishing business and was best known for establishing the first book clubs in France. In 1950, he became editor-in-chief of Official Toy magazine in Paris, and was responsible for the creation of the International Toy and Game trade show.
Chevry entered the television field in 1957, when he co-produced a children’s show, followed by five films on classical music, including one documentary about Isaac Stern, and one about Arthur Rubinstein, for which he won an award.
In 1965, after a one-year hiatus, MIP-TV moved to Cannes, utilizing the town’s “old” Palais for its exhibition floors. In 1982, the much larger and more successful market moved to the new Palais, while the old one became a hotel.
A lifelong bachelor (“If I were married, I could never have done this,” Chevry told VideoAge in 1982), he cultivated the image of a mysterious and enigmatic figure who lived with his mother. Undocumented stories and anecdotes of his early life abound still and Chevry was often MIP-TV participants’ favorite topic of conversation (after program sales, that is). In 1987, he sold his markets’ organizing company, MIDEM, to the U.K.’s Television South (TVS) for £5 million. Two years later, TVS sold MIDEM to Reed Exhibitions (for a reported $20 million), which renamed itself Reed MIDEM. According to some accounts, the high resale value of MIDEM left Chevry upset. He returned to the publishing business with a free, airport-distributed magazine. The history of MIP can be found here: http://www.videoageinternational.com/articles/2013/04/mip50.htm
(By Dom Serafini)
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