Life on the Other Side of Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll
Over the years I worked as a talent executive, I got used to artists being late. Puffy once kept our crew waiting for five hours, and Madonna was always way behind, taking 90 minutes to reapply her lip gloss between junket-style rounds of four minute interviews. Kanye did a midnight set at 4:00 AM and Janet Jackson showed up three hours late, but the Undisputed High Priestess of Late was always Mariah Carey. I did 10 or 12 shoots with her while I was at E!, and each of them required vast amounts of patience, optimism, and restraint.
This made the news that Mariah’s doing American Idol particularly funny. Maybe no one told her that the show’s live, or maybe the producers are looking to add drama — the question of whether or not Mariah will make it to the Fox stage before Idol goes live will make much better television than watching a sing-off between Bo from Cincinnati and that nice girl from Washington State.
I did a special with Mariah for E! just before she released The Emancipation of Mimi. Mariah’s not easy to book, and when I finally got the shoot scheduled, we had less than 24 hours to get ourselves to a sit-down in London. We somehow pulled it off, and then, when we got there, we spent two days waiting for Mariah to show. Eventually, she did. (“Come meet Mariah!” her then-publicist Duvet* said gleefully when she finally called, sounding like she was either inviting us to a party or incredibly relieved.)
We ended up shooting 20 hours of b-roll and interviews, which sounds like a lot until you consider that those 20 hours of film took 60 days to shoot. It was ok, though: we understood. Being Mariah takes work. She can’t go anywhere unless she’s in full glam, and security, handlers, drivers and the lighting guy take a while to get organized. (Really: there’s a man named Bill whose sole job is to trail Mariah with a lighting rig just in case a camera shows up.)
I don’t mean to disparage her. Mariah’s got mad talent. She’s funny, she’s smart, and she’s thoughtful — she even sent me flowers to apologize for the hell she put us through in the process of filming Mariah Uncut. (That’s not to say that she placed the order herself, or even that she knew who I was. The last time I saw Mariah was in E!’s one-on-one room at the Grammys; as she entered our suite her well-prepared publicist Laura said “Mariah! It’s your friend JULIE FARMAN. Julie Farman from E! JULIE FARMAN.” Mariah, of course, then greeted me by name.)
I can’t wait for American Idol. It’s run like clockwork for 11 years — no big surprises — but this season Mariah’s on deck, and I’m pretty sure Ryan’s head is going to explode.
All hail Mariah n’ shit.
*Duvet isn’t her real name, but if it was, it’d be pronounced doo-vet.