Dick Clark Productions is hitting back against Mariah Carey’s claim it sabotaged her live performance on its “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” special.
Carey’s disaster during the annual New Year’s Eve special in Times Square made international headlines: The superstar vocally stumbled through her short set, failing to sing for most of it despite a pre-recorded track of her songs playing in the background.
Carey was visibly upset during the performance and afterward tweeted “(expletive) happens.” Her representative Nicole Perna blamed technical difficulties, and in an interview with Billboard she said Dick Clark Productions hampered Carey’s performance.
“She was not winging this moment and took it very seriously,” Perna told Billboard. “A shame that production set her up to fail.”
Perna said Carey’s earpiece wasn’t working and she flagged the issue to the production team but was told it would be OK when she got on stage.
“However, that was not the case, and they were again told that her earpiece was not working,” Perna said. “Instead of endeavoring to fix the issue so that Mariah could perform, they went live.”
In a statement released on Sunday, the production company called such claims “absurd.”
“As the premier producer of live television events for nearly 50 years, we pride ourselves on our reputation and long-standing relationships with artists,” it said. “To suggest that dcp (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.”
It said that in “very rare instances” there are technical errors that can occur with live television. It said an initial investigation, however, indicated it had no involvement in the challenges associated with Carey’s performance.
“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,” it said.
A person familiar with the production of the show who asked for anonymity to speak publicly about the incident said all of the other performers, including Gloria Estefan, rehearsed onsite for their performances and Carey was there but had a stand-in for her rehearsal, atypical for the show’s performers. The person said all of the monitors were working and no technical problems were found.
Perna later disputed the claim that Carey did not rehearse.
“Mariah did in fact rehearse at 3:00 p.m., Perna said in an email to The Associated Press on Monday. “She went through vocals and her team ran through sound. All was well at rehearsal. She was prompt for rehearsal and her performance.”
Ironically, Carey was Dick Clark Productions’ first live performer for the broadcast in 2005, when it went off without any such problems.
And the blame game begins.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the Mariah Carey camp believes her botched New Year’s Eve performance was blown up just so it would get higher ratings.
According to TMZ, sources close to Carey say they made repeated complaints to execs at Dick Clark Productions that her earpieces (“inner ears”) weren’t working.
The report says Mariah did an interview with Ryan Seacrest an hour before she took the stage in Times Square and she was having trouble.
“It’s hard for me to hear you,” she was heard telling Seacrest.
Mariah and her team went to the production trailer after the interview and once again told Dick Clark execs her inner ears weren’t working. The sources say they were told her inner ears would be on a different frequency when she hit the stage and there would be no problem.
Fast forward to 6 minutes before her performance. Mariah was in the holding tent for last-minute makeup, and she was alarmed, telling the production team she could barely hear anything. Mariah sources say they were assured the tent muffled the sound, and it would be fine on stage.
At that point, someone said her mic pack wasn’t working because the battery was dead, so they changed packs.
Mariah was suspicious and got on stage four minutes early to test things out, and she couldn’t hear anything in her inner ears. She and her team say they complained repeatedly, but nothing was done.
To make matters worse and even more suspicious, Mariah’s people say when she got on stage the prompter wasn’t working. The prompter has the lyrics when they appear in the song as well as stage cues.
Mariah ripped the inner earpiece out — out of frustration — and thought she had a fighting chance just listening to the music, but the crowd was so loud in Times Square she could hear nothing.
Short story — Mariah’s team believe there are too many coincidences and too many warnings … they say it was sabotage “so they could get Mariah drama.”
Officially, the word was: “Unfortunately there was nothing she could do to continue with the performance given the circumstances,” Carey spokeswoman Nicole Perna said, according to AP.
In its response to the story and Mariah’s claims, Dick Clark Production sources tell TMZ … Mariah’s “sabotage” claim is “silly.” They say SHE’s the one who decided not to do a soundcheck, and had a stand-in do it instead. They also point out that there were 8 monitors on stage amplifying sound, so even without an inner ear, Mariah should have been able to hear just fine.
They also add that Mariah changed her story … initially saying the track was wrong. But Dick Clark sources insist her camp provided the track list.
Something tells us that going forward, it may be a long time – if ever – before Mariah Carey and Dick Clark Productions work together again.
PHOTO: AP, ABC Screenshot