The fallout over Mariah Carey
’s New Year’s Eve performance
on ABC’s Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest
During the program, Carey’s live TV showcase -- a performance
of “Auld Lang Syne,” “Emotions” and “We Belong Together” -- was plagued by
technical difficulties, leaving the singer stranded on stage as it was revealed
she was lip synching. The singer played it off, joking with the audience as ABC
cut to shots of the crowd.
An eyewitness in Times Square tells ET that it was clear something was wrong: "She just stood there and didn't even try to play it off," adding that "everyone in the media section just looked at each other and started cringing."
MORE: Mariah Carey Plagued by Technical Difficulties During Live New Year's Eve Performance
Following the performance, Carey tweeted that “sh*t happens,”
while her reps told ET “there unfortunately was nothing she could do to
continue with the performance given the circumstances.” At the time Dick Clark
Productions and ABC had no comment.
But what should have been a standout event to welcome in the
New Year has turned into a headache for all those involved as the two sides
address accusations of sabotage.
According to a source close to Carey, the singer was having
trouble with her inner earpiece, an issue she made aware to production. But
Carey was told to go on.
“Mariah noticed something was wrong,” Stella Bulochnikov,
Carey’s manager, tells ET. “She told the stage manager. They changed the mic
pack out twice for her inner ear. And they told her that the frequency was off
but that it would be on when she got on the stage.”
While unable to hear host Ryan Seacrest during their
interview, production assured the singer that everything would be fine during
the performance. However, as soon as “Emotions” started, Carey could be heard
on TV saying “we can’t hear” as she attempted to sing the hit song. By the time
she got to “We Belong Together,” Carey was out of sync with the music and
lyrics, eventually dropping her handheld microphone to her side as the song
continued to play.
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The moment left Seacrest in shock. “[He] didn’t know what to
do,” a source close to production for New
Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest
tells ET, claiming that Carey refused
to do sound check.
“She’s Mariah Carey. She did everything she needed to do at
rehearsals,” Bulochnikov says. “Everything was fine at rehearsals.”
While a source close to Carey says it’s not uncommon for
artists to sing to a track during certain live performances, allegations of lip
synching are insulting.
“I don't think Mariah was deliberately set up to fail but they
had major technical glitches,” Bulochnikov says. “And their decision not to cut
to commercial or cut the performance out of the west coast feed is in a way
sabotaging as they wanted a viral moment.”
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While Dick Clark Productions initially had no comment, it
issued a response on Sunday.
“As the premier producer of live television events for
nearly 50 years, we pride ourselves on our reputation and long-standing
relationships with artists,” a statement from Dick Clark Productions reads. “To
suggest that Dick Clark Productions, 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 Dick Clark Productions had no involvement in the challenges
associated with Ms. Carey’s New Year’s Eve performance,” Dick Clark Productions’
statement continues, defending the production against accusations of deliberate
sabotage. “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.”
However, this is where the two camps remain squarely
“Dick Clark Productions should have made every effort to
create a more professional and less chaotic atmosphere for an artist of
Mariah's stature,” Carey’s manager says. “They were not prepared her. And she
did not have her own technical team for this performance.”
As for Carey, while a source close to ET said she was upset,
she’s shifted focus to upcoming commitments. The singer is scheduled to
headline the Dubai Jazz Festival and to tour with Lionel Richie, starting in