Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My final days at MTV...

I guess it’s time for me to share this story now. It’s not that I want to revisit that time particularly- as it was such a painful period in my life- but you guys have asked me about it & I am not one for keeping secrets. So, here goes...

As I said many times before, MTV is an amazing company to work for. But sadly enough, it is a terrible company to get fired from. Each one of us, former MTV employees, have our own painful story of ‘being dumped by the one we loved so much’.

To be honest though, my ‘ending’ was much to my own doing. I had tried to leave MTV for years. Every time when MTV was letting people off (something that would hang over the offices for months and caused a horrible nervous atmosphere), I would go into the boss’s office and offer my resignation. Yet every time I was told that they didn’t want me to go and would offer me more money. So each time I stayed.

The reason why I had wanted to leave was that I had been there for so long. There was nothing new for me to learn & I saw no new challenges in my daily work. The ‘feel’ of the company had also changed over the years and had become very ‘corporate’. I craved a new challenge. Plus, I had having freaky nightmares about me being an old lady who was still hanging around the MTV dressing rooms (I looked like that crazy old woman from the movie ‘Whatever happened to baby Jane’). So anyway, I felt that I needed to move on.

But I never had the guts to actually leave (apart from those feeble attempts whenever they were laying off staff). The main reason for this was that I felt safe and accepted at MTV. It was my home away from home, as I had left my mother’s house at the age of 18 and moved straight to London. So MTV had become my new family in this foreign land. I grew up at MTV and in front of the MTV cameras.

The perks of being a VJ was also something that I had grown accustomed to. MTV would give me hefty clothing allowances every month, plus a personal stylist to shop with. Like most other VJs, I used the MTV taxi service all over town, I sent my parcels through the MTV postal service & used the MTV phones to call my family in Holland. I had also grown accustomed to travelling non-stop (my average was 2 foreign countries a week). Plus I was more than used to my ‘access all areas’ lifestyle.

But in the lead-up to being fired I had done something that I had never done before. On the Harald Schmidt show (a big German talk show) I announced that I was leaving MTV at the end of that year. But when that date came nearer and nearer I got cold feet and hoped that everyone would forget about my big announcement. I did say ‘no’ to more and more mainstream shoots and projects on MTV and started to spend more time away from the company. But I didn’t expect to actually leave.

Then, one day, I was called into the office of a new boss. I had no idea why she wanted to see me. She just said ‘Simone, we’re taking the Partyzone off air. You are fired’. It was so unexpected and such a shock that I started to cry. And I hated myself for that. If I had known what she was going to say, I’m sure that I would have been fine. I felt so stupid for crying, especially as her office had big windows and everyone could see me. I walked out of her office humiliated & that was not the way I had intended to leave after all those beautiful years.

It was all made worse though when my dear friends and colleagues came straight up to me and said ‘Simone, we’re so sorry for you’. It turned out that everyone had known, apart from me. And no one told me. Not even James or Tania, my two best friends at the company. They said ‘We were told not to tell you’.

James and I had always had a ‘suicide pact’. We promised each other that we would leave the company together. But I was leaving alone. He also didn’t have the guts to follow through (as you know, we are still very close friends, so I have obviously forgiven him for this).

The rest of my period at MTV (the final days) was all a haze. There were no goodbyes, apart from a short tape that my colleagues made, with lots of ‘Good luck Simone’ and ‘We love you’. They also collected some money amongst themselves and gave me a bracelet that I still wear to this day.

My last shoot was with a crew that I never worked with. It was on top of a snowy mountain and at the end of the shoot, they forgot about me and left. So there I was, stranded on top of an Austrian mountain, feeling more lonely and betrayed than I had ever been.

No one had actually told me if my other show, the German version of the Dancefloor chart, was ending too. So I came back to the studio, filmed my show and asked afterwards ‘So what happens now? Are we still filming next week?’ No one seemed to know. And that was the last I ever heard of my German crew. No goodbye at all.

And obviously, it was not true that Partyzone or the Dancefloor chart had ended. It was only me that had been taken off air.

So there you go. It may not seem like such hurtful or shocking a story to you, but it was an awful period in my life. My main feeling was that of being betrayed by my own ‘family’. I just wished that it had been done differently. I was fine about the leaving part, but it’s the way that it was done that was so horrible. Still, others were fired in even worse ways than that at MTV. I’ll say it again ‘MTV is a great company to work for, but an awful company to be fired from’.

By the way, I still am good friends with many old MTV colleagues, including the big, big boss Bill Roedy. He is the sweetest man and is the best boss I have ever had. So it’s not the people that I ended up angry with, but the corporate monster that is now MTV.


Eurodance Blog said...

Thank you for sharing this Simone!
And the most important thank you to talk with us the guys who admire you for what you did there in that period!! ;-)

Hugs from Romania


Simone said...

Hi Tavi,

Can you re-send me your email please? Regarding the interview. Couldn't mail you back somehow.

Fil said...

Hey Simone, THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing all this with us. I actually found this very moving indeed. Thank you for being so damn honest, so straightforward; it's so easy to love you! ;-)

Anyway, I'd been wondering about all this for years. They should never have treated you like that. I've got friends who work at MTV and it really looks like things have gotten even worse now. They lay off hundreds of people at once, mainly because these days they have too many crap channels that they can't even handle (Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Nick Junior, Nick Junior +1, Nick At Nite, Nick Me Baby One More Time...). Why don't they just get rid of all that overkill?!?

However, back to your story: I remember I was a bit confused back in January 1999 when I noticed that the Party Zone hadn't really been taken off the air. The only channel from which it disappeared completely was MTV Italia (those bastards!), but all the other European MTVs hadn't taken it off the air. That was basically when they began "localizing" it, showing different stuff on their UK, German, Nordic and "rest of Europe"-feeds. BUT YOU WERE MISSING, holy crap! By the way, over the years, most rare videos which used to be shown until 1998 simply disappeared from the show (and from MTV, of course). It became very predictable and less enjoyable.

Strangely enough, last Friday on MTV European's PZ (yeah, it's still on every Friday night at midnight CET!!!) they played 2 of James's brilliant old Megamixes! I hadn't seen a Megamix in years on MTV. Great memories!

Thank you once again for this story.

Supa dupa love,

Chris said...

Wow, that sounds pretty shocking to me.

Don't downplay you own story, Simone, that experience must have hurt.

If it wasn't for the fact that i feel a bit too grown-up to watch MTV for more than -say- ten minutes at a time anyway, i'd consider boycotting the channel altogether.

Corporatism Sucks.

Simone Rules!

Alex said...

Thank you, really! But it's so sad. Especially when the told you everything, and when the crew you never worked with before, left you there on the mountain! What a bad feeling!
MTV, I love you, I hate you! It's always been like that, anyway!

Fil said...

Hi there again!

While we're on this subject, browsing through my playlist archive I found the complete playlist of the very last PZ hosted by you, dear Simone.. and I just realized that it aired on your 27th birthday!

Here it is:

MTV Europe's PARTY ZONE - Friday, 25/12/1998 (technically Sat, 26/12) - airtime: 00.00 - 02.00 CET

hosted by Simone from Air & Style '98, Innsbruck, Austria

SURREAL MADRID - "Girls Of The Nite"
STARDUST - "Music Sounds Better With You"
DAFT PUNK - "Revolution 909"
TUFF JAM - "Need Good Love"
MJ COLE - "Sincere"
CORNERSHOP - "Brimful Of Asha (Norman Cook Remix)"
AUDIOWEB - "Policeman Skank (Freestylers Remix)"
MADONNA - "Ray Of Light (Sasha Ultra-Violet Mix)"
STETSASONIC - "Talkin' All That Jazz (Dimitri From Paris Remix)"
AIR - "Kelly Watch The Stars"
RAE & CHRISTIAN feat. VEBA - "Spellbound"
SLY & ROBBIE - "Super-Thruster"
FILA BRAZILLIA - "The Speewah"
KLAUS BEYER - "Die Glatze"
SQUAREPUSHER - "Come On My Selector"
MR. OIZO - "Kirk"
BLOCKSTER - "You Should Be..."
CEVIN FISHER'S BIG FREAK - "The Freak's Come Out"
SWAYZAK - "Speedboat"
FATBOY SLIM - "The Rockafeller Skank"

Lots of ace tracks, as you can see!

Eurodance Blog said...

www.myspace.com/69994410 it's your real account ??

thank you

Simone said...

Thanks for all these great comments, guys! It makes me feel much better about that whole crappy part of my life (knowing that there were people who did care)

Fil, thanks for the playlist. Amazing you still had that. And Euroblog...yes, that is my MySpace page (it's not very developed though)

Again, thanks for the support. Love, Simone

Patrick Béch said...

Hi Simone !

It´s amazing. For the first time i went to this site and get this true story.

I looked at Partyzone for many years and I Like You much !
You are Partyzone, It´s True !

The best years in my life..I think..I have learned the ground of dance music..

Best Regards,


kevin said...

Hi Simone,

did you know that Belgian TV (Canvas) aired a 3 hour special with Ray Cokes and Marcel Vanthilt on NYE?

It was great! Playing cool new and old videos and some funny and absurd conversations with ray and marcel.

I read lot of positive reviews afterwards, people are missing this kind of "music television"..

Labrokratis said...

Hi Simone,
as someone growing up by watching you and the P.Z. and as someone that cared a lot for the last traces of MTV Europe's, when they fired you,I somehow figured out what happened. It was obvious. You were the last MTV VJ from the "classic" MTV Europe area. It was a matter of time.
It was an end of area for me and probably connected with the end of my youth.
Since then, the dance music is somehow "banned" in the European MTV channels, with some local exceptions (Poland and Spain for example). They made MTV Dance of course, a thematic UK channel, which has no feeling and spirit. It's a video jukebox playing videos with no particularly order.

About your departure from MTV now:
I don't know if it was by purpose, neither just coincidence, but: The New Year's eve of 1999, broadcasted the last "all nigher" MTV PZ ever, on MTV Europe. On that one, the played many of the music videos that you (and your team) seems to like most. Many of them, never aired again on MTV again. They are banned or something. Maybe it was a kind of farewell or whatever to you, by someone that made that playlist. I'm very lucky and I taped that show. Half of the videos there are now rare.

Since the day you left MTV, the fans of the music scene became watching other music channels in Europe, like Viva and TMF to find dance music videos. Unfortunately, around 2004, both was under control by Viacom and - by surprise - since that year, dance music eventually disappeared on them. The few shows they still focusing in Dance music, are full of SMS and other annoying stuff, to the point to became unwatchable. So, if that sweetens your heart, you fired the correct time: It would be much more painful if you stayed with the company and lived that change in their programming. Don't mention, that MTV is not for Europe any more, but for simply promoting american music.

Finally, as a PZ fan, what I would love to see happening (even if it is not possible), is watch all your Party Zones and "Dance" shows online, to a site like Veoh or whatever. We, your fans in Europe, we would loved to see you again presenting your shows. Today's digital age allows that, even if it is not exactly "legal". But it is obvious, Viacom don't care for that time, and won't do something with that old material. So, why don't you do something with?

Anonymous said...

Hello Simone,

should there still be someone who has not loved you so far (which I cannot imagine), they will certainly love you after this upfront post of yours. I am particularly ashamed that the German crew did not even care to say goodbye or anything. Simone forever!

Lots of love

Anonymous said...

hay simon
im tzahi from israel and i just found your blog and i have to say im realy axciting/
you were the only source in israel for the newest dance music (exept radio) and you are my favorite vj of all times. i have lots of memories from your time in mtv and its really peace of my music culture.
now .i have a chance to say to you a big thanks, im really appreciate your work and thanks again for being on of a kind.
ill start to be one of your best reader from now.

tzahi sadrina said...

hay simon.
i just read your post on your last days in mtv.
im working for the bigest tv studios in israel called - mtvs(nice) as a sound supervisor for 12 years. im reding your post and i see myself here in the studio - as you wrote it was like a big family and its become a corporate- just money matter. for 12 years im working with a lot of people and i can see that almost all of them are "like" friends of you. just when they need something, i really understand and have a lot ofempathy for your feeling and story - one thing to say - mtv "WAS" the best place for music, now its not even "A PLACE" for music - just garbage regretfully. good for you that you are not there - bad for us. love you - tzahi. sadrinat1@gmail.com

Fil said...

Gosh, Simone, what a coincidence!
I can't believe what I just found out: there's a pay-tv channel in Germany called "Sat1 Comedy" where they show classic episodes of Die Harald Schmidt Show... and guess what... this Wednesday night they'll be showing one with you as a guest. I wonder if it's gonna be the episode where you made your 'big announcement'.
Too bad I don't have access to that channel!

Simone said...

I've been traveling the last few days (I'm in Belize now) and it looks like I have a lot to catch up on. Again, thank you all for these lovely comments.

If any of you receive the 'Sat1 comedy' channel from Germany, can you please, please, please record that for me on wednesday? I'll see if I can get it online, but it seems unlikely.

I heard about that show with Ray Cokes and Marcel Vanthilt. I would love to see it. Bet it was funny (how could it not be!)

I am still in contact with Ray Cokes quite a bit and we keep trying to do something together. There have been talks about hosting some big 90's parties in Holland or possibly doing a tv show together (with Steve Blame as well). We know that there is a production company that wants to do it with us, but we keep getting stuck on the format.

With this same production company, I am also looking at doing a kind of follow-up show on the Partyzone, a 'where are they now' idea, that would use a lot of the old Partyzone footage (something I'm sure you would all love, right?) I am waiting on answers from the rights clearing department at MTV Europe on this one.

Next to all these things, I have also written a totally new show idea that has nothing to do with my MTV past, but it's something I am (possibly) even more excited about as it would actually do something good in the world. I guess my years in a developing country have left their marks on me ; )

Now, I know that I shouldn't really be discussing all these things as I have no idea which ideas (if any) will see the light of day, but as you all probably know by now, I am a bit of an open book. So there you go. These are the reasons why I have been blogging less lately (I've been busy writing proposals, etc.)

Wish me luck and send me some positive vibes. I will keep you posted....


hi simone
ill be more then happy to see you back on tv with dance music show and i wish you the best and a big good luck with your ideas for new tv show.

big hugs from israel

Simone said...

Sorry people, I've just been told by the Dutch production company that we have to hold off on the Partyzone 'follow-up' show for now. They are too busy with other projects (now that I am finally in discussion with the rights clearing dep. at MTV)

To be honest though, I don't mind too much. The other project (which I have managed to keep my mouth shut about so far. Good on me) is something I am far more excited about anyway.

I know that most people want me to do things connected to the past, but that stuff could never inspire me the way the future can.

Oh, and guess what I found here in Belize? My last Harald Schmidt interview. I will try and upload it in the coming days.

Anyway, I am sorry. But I will see if I can just keep adding Partyzone clips to my blog instead.

Fil said...

Well, eventually my friend Alex and I managed to get access to Sat1Comedy! We just finished watching (and recording) Die Harald Schmidt Show with lovely Simone. :-)

It was great to see that interview again, although it was not from 1998 but from the 2000-ish period. It was the same one that could be found on YouTube a couple of years back, mainly centered around No Angels and the Popstars show.

Your German is brilliant!

Good to hear that you're working on an exciting new project. I'm curious to find out what it's all about, even though it's nothing to do with MTV and 'your younger self'. I'm sure you've got great things in store!

It's needless to say that I'm among those who'd like you to do things connected to music and your past as well, therefore I hope the Dutch production company picks up the PZ follow-up project again some time in the future.

In the meantime, it would definitely be much appreciated if you uploaded old PZ clips on this blog.

Later! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hey Simone,

I just found out about your blog (while googling for old PZ and ChillOut footage) and have to say I'm very pleased the MTV I, and so many others, grew up with is still being discussed and missed!
I'm Dutch but I will write this in English so others can read this as well.

Like many people before me I want speak out my gratitude for being Mtv's figurehead of PZ. Showing viewers in Europe the latest ins covering a broad perspective of a scene rapidly evolving into different subcultures and genres, as before House music was just House music.
Being aged 14 in 1993 these shows had a great impact on my musical developpement and taste. I can stil remember seeing Aphex' video "On" for the first time or Autechre's "Second Bad Vilbel" or the amazing FSOL video's. It just blew me away, triggering me to write down everything i like and trying to find a copy of an album at the library.

I taped loads of PZ's and ChillOutZones till about 1997 viewing them afterwards on a lazy sunday, seeing that Dutch lady without steenkolen-engels :) interviewing artists before their big break-through.

Almost every music video was a small piece of art in my opinion. I just miss those days when the M in Mtv stood for Music instead of Mass, but as you grow older (almost 30 now) a period has to end for one to look back with certain melancholy. Nevertheless I still think it's a shame there is no tv-media showing these small art works. Sadly enough I lost all (!) my VHS tapes last year so now I have to rely on the internet (i already found Fil's page a while ago), and your blog offcourse!
I just read your story about your final day's at mtvs and find it is a damn shame they dropped you like a brick, just like that. I totally wasn't aware of the cold hearted cleansweeps. But the company had already set its course I geuss.

After 1999 I lost interest in Mtv and started making my own music. And so last year I performed on the same party as mr Aphex copperhead Twin. And this year I just released my first vinyl.

So now being an "artist" myself I just wanted to say the show had a huge impact on my musical interests.

Thank you :)


Anonymous said...

Simone, you are icon, you introduced me to the most creative and challenging electronic beats ever. I'm thankful. Nobody ever will replace you.

James Hyman said...

Respect as ever to all the fans/supporters of Simone & MTV Party Zone.

Simone - love you always, even more for sharing this post/blog. Yes, I should have left with you per our 'suicide pact' but I didn't hang around much longer afterwards if that's any consolation!xx

To all the fans/supporters/true lovers/those in the know. It dawned on me that not only do I have EVERY 'Party Zone Massive' Megamix/Remix on Beta (great quality format), but pretty sure I have EVERY VHS of the show Simone & I worked together on from around 1989 - 2000.

Question is who would be so kind to upload it all! What a visual treasure chest of pop promos, interviews, rave culture, adverts from the era gone, tunes etc.!!