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CMU Beef Of The Week #337: Mariah Carey v Dick Clark Productions

By | Published on Friday 6 January 2017

Mariah Carey

You might think there hadn’t really been time for people to fall out with each other in 2017 yet. Not in a professional capacity, anyway. After all, this has been a very short working week. In actual fact though, we’ve been spoiled for choice.

There was Robbie Williams immediately rushing to wash his hands after touching an audience member at his big NYE concert on BBC One; Rebecca Ferguson saying that she’d accept an invitation to perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration party only if she could sing ‘Strange Fruit’; and Cabbage rejecting a tip for the top from The Sun. But the beef that’s kept on coming this week stars Mariah Carey and, like Robbie’s, began after a round of ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

Carey was booked to headline the annual ‘Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin Eve’ show on US TV network ABC. At first, all seemed to be well. Carey sang ‘Auld Lang Syne’ as she began her performance before the show’s traditional ‘ball drop’ at midnight, and without stopping for hand sanitiser moved straight into one of her own songs, ‘Emotions’. This is where things started to go wrong.

Rather than sing the song, Carey informed the crowd that she’d not been given a soundcheck and opted to let the crowd cover the vocals for her. After that, she gave up on ‘We Belong Together’, announcing that she was “trying to be a good sport”, before walking off the stage.

Two hours later, in which time there had been much online chatter about the incident, Carey tweeted: “Shit happens. Have a happy and healthy new year everybody! Here’s to making more headlines in 2017”.

So, that’s all water under the bridge. Except it wasn’t, because as the streamers settled, accusations of sabotage, unprofessional behaviour, and broken promises began to fly back and forth. What better way to begin a new twelve month period?

The next morning, Carey’s manager Stella Bulochnikov spoke to Billboard, saying that the singer’s in-ear monitors had not been working. The show’s team had attempted to fix them prior to the performance, said Bulochnikov, and despite failing to do so insisted – with minutes to go – that all would be fine once she was on stage. Carey then removed the faulty monitors once her performance was underway, but was unable to hear the music because of the noise of the crowd, leaving her unable to perform.

Bulochnikov explained that she then called the show’s producer, Mark Shimmel. He confirmed that there had been an issue with the in-ear monitors, so she asked him to pull Carey’s performance from the later airing of the show on the US’s West Coast.

“He said he could not do that”, she said. “I asked him why would they want to run a performance with mechanical glitches unless they just want eyeballs at any expense … It’s not artist friendly, especially when the artist cut her vacation short as a New Year’s Eve gift to them”.

A rep for Dick Clark Productions denies that this conversation actually took place. Even if it did, it is fair to say that it would be difficult to simply chop the big pre-midnight performance out of the show – particularly when it had already been left with a ten minute hole due to Carey’s early walk-off.

Still, the problems could have been dealt with in the moment during the live broadcast itself, Carey’s rep reckons. “When she pulled her ears out, they should have cut to commercial”, Bulochnikov told Entertainment Weekly. “That says to me they wanted a viral moment at any expense”.

Yeah, there you go. There’s the accusation of sabotage. Dick Clark Productions wanted the crescendo of their show to be shit so that people would talk about it. And people were talking about it. Though mainly members of Carey’s team.

The company put out its own statement, refuting this, saying: “As the premiere producer of live television events for nearly 50 years, we pride ourselves on our reputation and long-standing relationships with artists. To suggest that DCP, as producer of music shows including the American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, New Year’s Rockin Eve and Academy Of Country Music Awards, would ever intentionally compromise the success of any artist is defamatory, outrageous and frankly absurd”.

“In very rare instances there are of course technical errors that can occur with live television, however, an initial investigation has indicated that DCP had no involvement in the challenges associated with Ms Carey’s New Year’s Eve performance”, it continued. “We want to be clear that we have the utmost respect for Ms Carey as an artist and acknowledge her tremendous accomplishments in the industry”.

So basically, they’re not taking responsibility for it either. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just a new year miracle. Probably best if everyone just puts it behind them. It’ll all be forgotten soon enough, and it’s not like it’s actually going to damage Mariah Carey’s career at all. No, best leave it and let it fade from everyone’s collective memory.

Though Carey still had one more thing to say. “I’m of the opinion that Dick Clark would not have let an artist go through that and he would have been as mortified as I was in real time”, she told Entertainment Weekly two days later, reckoning that things would have turned out better had the late DCP boss and former ‘New Year’s Rockin Eve’ host still been alive to oversee everything.

It’s all about the people, see. “It’s not going to stop me from doing a live event in the future”, she added. “But it will make me less trusting of using anyone outside of my own team”.

Not sure how many major live events would allow Carey’s team to take over production for the duration of her performance, but it’s a nice idea.