Claims of sexual misconduct on "The Voice of Holland": John de Mol finally speaks!
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On January 21st, the world-famous entertainment trade magazine "The Hollywood Reporter" posted an article about John de Mol's reaction to the claims of sexual misconduct on "The Voice of Holland". Until 2020, The Voice franchise was owned by Talpa Network (John de Mol's media company). The current owner is ITV Studios.
Dutch media tycoon John de Mol, the creator of global TV hits "Big Brother" and "The Voice", recently responded to multiple claims of sexual misconduct by members of staff on "The Voice of Holland", the original Dutch version of the talent show.
On January 15th, Dutch broadcaster RTL 4 pulled "The Voice of Holland" off the air after a local investigative news program reported multiple claims of misconduct and abuse over more than a decade by two celebrity judges on the show — Marco Borsato and Ali B. — as well as the show’s bandleader, Jeroen Rietbergen. The latter is married to Dutch media personality Linda de Mol, making him John de Mol’s brother-in-law.
ITV Studios, which bought John de Mol’s production company Talpa in 2015, and produces The Voice formats worldwide, said they were “shocked” by the claims and have commissioned an external investigation into the allegations.
De Mol initially declined to comment but spoke to BNNVARA's investigative news magazine Boos after it showed him its report on the allegations. Boos broadcast the entire interview, unedited, at the end of its report online on its YouTube channel on January 20th. The video has already received more than 9 million views on YouTube.
De Mol said he was unaware of the alleged abuse and that in his time as executive producer — he ran the show from its start in 2010 through 2019 — he was made aware of only one complaint, involving Rietbergen, in 2019. The bandleader has admitted sending sexually explicit images and text messages to The Voice candidates. He resigned last Saturday.
“First, I was speechless, then I became livid,” De Mol recalled, upon hearing the first allegation against Rietbergen. “I called him and said, ‘Come here now’…. I yelled at him for 30 minutes, I had to restrain myself not to punch him in the face.”
De Mol claims The Voice production team apologized to the accuser and put Rietbergen on notice that he would be fired if another incident came to light. But De Mol said he had no knowledge of the alleged abuse by Borsato as well as Ali B., accused of inappropriately touching underage contestants of The Voice Kids, a spinoff show. Several former contestants of The Voice of Holland have leveled allegations at Ali B., including one who claims the rapper raped her in his recording studio. Both men deny the allegations.
De Mol said none of the accusers filed complaints against the two men, and he was unaware of any misconduct, but said if the allegations turn out to be true, “I absolutely feel responsible. That doesn’t mean that I saw things and tried to cover them up, or condoned things that should not have been condoned. This discussion is about one thing: People have been hurt. There are victims and their interests should come first.”
De Mol is no longer involved with The Voice, but said he agreed with RTL’s decision to pull the show off the air while ITV Studios conducts its investigation.
“I think you can only start discussing the future of The Voice after everything comes out,” he said. “I can’t tell you if The Voice will be back next year or if it will never come back.”
Employees at De Mol’s company Talpa Media — which he runs but is owned by ITV Studios — did not take well to their boss’ mea culpa. A group of female Talpa employees on Friday took out a full-page ad in the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad accusing De Mol of victim-blaming for suggesting the accusers should have come forward earlier.
“Do not wait. Do not be afraid. You have to open your mouth. Only then can we help you,” De Mol said in the interview. “Women apparently have a kind of shame. I don’t know what it is, but I would like to delve into it.”
His employees’ response, in the AD read: “Dear John, it’s not the women. Greetings, the women of your company.” In a statement, the group of employees noted their “amazement and shame” at De Mol’s comments, saying they were an indication of the degree of “culture change that is needed within the company, but also in the media world and society and certainly at more large companies, where these kinds of thinking errors are still made by men in power.”
Following the Boos broadcast, ITV Studios released a statement saying they were “shocked and dismayed” to hear the allegations by The Voice of Holland contestants.
“Our utmost priority is to provide a safe and supportive environment for everyone who takes part in or works on our shows and there is zero tolerance at ITV Studios for the type of behavior highlighted in the show,” the statement reads. "After ITV Studios received notice from Boos of this behavior last week, we moved quickly to launch an external investigation to fully understand what happened".
The external investigation is being led by the reputed Dutch law firm Van Doorne under the leadership of partner Jan Leliveld. Van Doorne’s priority is to build up a complete picture of what happened. Van Doorne has extensive experience handling these types of investigations and has assembled a dedicated team to run the investigation. Van Doorne has retained an external lawyer specializing in sexual harassment allegations and a forensic psychologist to assist in the investigation, as appropriate.
A number of preliminary interviews into allegations of inappropriate behavior have taken place this week and the Van Doorne team have already been in contact with those who have come forward through the confidential reporting process.”
ITV called on all former participants on the show or anyone who was subject to or witnessed any inappropriate behavior around The Voice of Holland “to contact our investigators who are ready and waiting to speak with them on a confidential basis.”
John de Mol and The Voice's sex scandals were front-page news in the January 21st edition of Holland's most-read newspaper De Telegraaf.
As a showbiz expert on "Shownieuws" on SBS6 (onwed by John de Mol's Talpa Network), Patty Brard discussed sex scandals on "The Voice". The former Luv' singer didn't consider Jeroen Rietbergen's behaviour as a #MeToo situation and didn't believe in the bandleader's abuse of power. The diva was strongly criticized after her comments about this touchy issue.
There is an obvious link between John de Mol and Luv's original members.
John first met Luv' in 1977 when the girl group auditioned for him to appear on the TROS show "Disco Circus" to perform the debut single "My Man". In interviews, the ladies explained that the audition for the TV program was a bit humiliating. They had to perform their track in John's office. The Dutch media magnate didn't look at the girls during the audition because he felt uncomfortable. The three singers first thought that he was arrogant. It appeared later that the TV producer was embarrassed because of how the audition was held. Out of respect for Luv', he could not look them in the eyes.
Luv' on Disco Circus (1977)
Patty Brard, José Hoebee, John de Mol and Luv's manager Pim ter Linde on a beach in Benalmadena, Spain during the filming of the "This Is True Luv'" TV show in January 1980
Marga Scheide and John de Mol fell in love during the taping of Luv's special in 1980 and were romantically involved until 1984.
John de Mol and Marga Scheide in 1981
In late 2020, the Luv' ladies were mentioned in a tell-all biography written by Mark Koster and dealing with John de Mol and his family. The book's author interviewed Marga to discuss her years with John. In 1984, the blonde Luv' lady and John broke up. The TV producer wasn't home very often. "John worked a lot. No, he was not the kind of person who was pleasant," Marga told Mark Koster. She had been the stepmother of Johnny (John's son) for five years and went with father and son to the Efteling theme park, visited De Mol's parents and her mother at the campsite. But the couple didn't reach much. According to Mark Koster, Marga left John unannounced. One day, John came back home: all he found was his television set and the cutlery.
Patty appeared several times in the biography of De Mol's family. In 2019, she signed a 4-year deal with John's Talpa Network. At the time, the larger than life TV personality had lost 40 kilos after a gastric bypass. This drastic weight loss boosted her career. A secret clause in her contract stipulated that if she gained weight, she would be fired. La Brard confirmed this story in her 2020 best-selling memoirs. In her biography, Patty said about John de Mol referring to the reality shows he launched (Big Brother, Utopia and Gouden Kooi): "This man not only conceived Big Brother, but he also became it".
Source: The Hollywood Reporter, Boos, Luv' weblog archives, De Telegraaf, Shownieuws...