Latin Music Week

Mariah Carey's Manager & Dick Clark Productions Butt Heads on Troubled New Year's Eve Performance

Following Mariah Carey's troubled performance on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest, the singer's manager, Stella Bulochnikov, has issued a statement to Billboard.

Carey's headlining set, leading up to midnight, went downhill when she got to “Emotions" and “We Belong Together," during which she said she could not hear through her in-ear monitors.

"We told them [the stage managers] that the in-ears were not working 10 minutes before the performance," Bulochnikov says. "They then changed the battery pack, and they were still not working on the frequency four minutes before the show. We let them know again, and they just kept counting her down and reassuring her that they will work as soon as they go live, which never happened -- at which point she pulled them out but could not hear the music over the crowd."

She continues: "After the show, I called [Dick Clark Productions'] Mark Shimmel and I said, 'What the f--- happened?' He said, 'Let me call you back,' then called me back and confirmed the in-ears were not working and asked if I would make a joint statement. I said, 'No way.' I asked him to cut the West Coast feed. He said he could not do that. 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 source on the DCP side denies that this conversation ever happened.)

BWR-PR's Nicole Perna, a rep for Carey, previously told Billboard that "production set her up to fail." But a production source told Billboard that Carey "had ample time to rehearse and chose not to," instead using a body double to rehearse in her place earlier in the day and that at the time, "all was working" on the technical side.

Dick Clark Productions also provided a statement Sunday evening (Jan. 1), refuting the claims from Carey's camp:

"As the premier 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. 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 what happened and who is to blame? Billboard has spoken with multiple sources involved with the show and one indisputable fact is that there was an issue with Carey's in-ears. According to two insiders, the audio feed was "set to the wrong frequency." Both sources say the fault was on Carey's tech team, which seems to support repeated claims by DCP that all was functioning properly on the show production end.

Could the show have cut to commercial, or to host Ryan Seacrest while the sound issues were worked out? Maybe, but such a proposition is tricky when the artist is two minutes into a six-minute performance, says a source. As for cutting the performance from the west coast broadcast, a backup segment would have had to be ready and Billboard has not yet been able to ascertain whether such a clip existed.  

Reporting by Adelle Platon and Shirley Halperin.