This year, MIP-TV will celebrate its 50th birthday. In honor of the spring market’s official entrance into middle age we’ve compiled a front-cover three-page special in our upcoming April issue featuring reminiscences of days past. While you’ll have to wait until MIP-TV to read the whole thing, we thought we’d give you a sneak peek here on the Watercooler.

In the piece we have testimonials from 15 current and former TV executives from the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Argentina, Italy, the former Yugoslavia and Canada. Plus, over a dozen “historical” (or perhaps “hysterical”) photos picturing over 60 people.

What we’ve noticed from the range of stories —many of which should have you laughing out loud — is that while MIP-TV has become a well-oiled machine and is perhaps smoother running than it was in the past, there was a certain of camaraderie and congeniality and, yes, also fun, during those early years that’s hard to replicate.

In fact, Larry Gershman speaks particularly highly of how the social and professional came together at his first MIP in the mid-1970s. “I went for a run on the Croisette very early in the mornings before at least one breakfast meeting, then onto our stand meeting all new faces, followed by a business lunch and then back to the stand. At least one meeting over drinks at the Majestic or Carlton, dinner (and every restaurant was a great new experience), back for drinks at the Majestic until 2 a.m., only to start all over again a few hours later. … I loved it! This was an introduction by fire, but an introduction to what has been my life for all these years since. I cannot think of a better way to be introduced to the world of television and the wonderful people who occupy it.”

Some more particularly memorable — and funny — anecdotes below.

  • In 1969, Herb Lazarus was at MIP with 20th Century Fox. He and his colleagues hosted a dinner for clients in Antibes. After a great evening filled with lots of Champagne and fabulous French food, he found out two things: First, that one of the guests had gotten on the wrong bus and was supposed to attend an entirely different event. And second, that colleague Bill Saunders, couldn’t pay the bill. Luckily, Lazarus and his boss, Alan Silverbach, had some Francs in their pocket and avoided a pretty embarrassing situation!
  • In 1987, Charles Falzon was pitching a buyer when his chair slowly started sinking. In order not to fall, the buyer held onto the wall, which collapsed. But while all of this was going on Falzon kept pitching away. Now that’s dedication!
  • In 1993, Dick Lippin was about to hold a news conference with Cindy Crawford when a crush of photographers and reporters far exceeded expectations. They wound up being ushered into an oversized closet until it was safe to come out. Poor guy, huh?
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