Skip to main content
U.S. Edition


Return to Transcripts main page


Profiles of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey

Aired July 30, 2005 - 17:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Fredricka Whitfield. "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" begins in a few minutes, but first, here's a look at other stories in the news.
Commander in chief, fit as a fiddle. Doctors give President Bush a clean bill of health after his annual physical today in Bethesda, Maryland. They say Mr. Bush is in superior condition for a man in his age group. He's 59.

Another tragedy for the Boy Scouts. Thirteen-year-old Ryan Collins was taken off a ventilator last night and pronounced dead. A lightning strike during a scouting hike in California left Collins brain dead and killed his troop leader. It's the sixth fatality for the Boy Scouts this week. Four Scout leaders were killed in an accident in Virginia.

U.S. troops are getting an eviction notice. The government of Uzbekistan is calling on the U.S. to leave a key military base known as K-2. The move comes as no surprise to U.S. officials. They've already been reassigning troops to bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. U.S. military planes have used K-2 for cargo and refueling.

I'll be back with more headlines in 30 minutes. PEOPLE IN THE NEWS begins right now.


ANNOUNCER: Next, on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, with her golden-toned voice and good girl image, she was predestined for pop greatness.

PETER CASTRO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: People fell in love with the wholesomeness, the beauty, that voice.

ANNOUNCER: But as her celebrity grew, so did the torments. The marriage that proved the catalyst for headline-grabbing chaos.

WENDY WILLIAMS, RADIO HOST, WBLS-FM: He's humping around. He's my prerogative. Bobby was a mess from the beginning of New Edition.

ANNOUNCER: From drug abuse to domestic violence.

BOBBY BROWN, "BEING BOBBY BROWN": Me and her were playing, you know. She took it wrong, I took it wrong, and then the 911 people took it wrong.

ANNOUNCER: Now, the troubled couple is beaming their domestic dysfunction straight into America's living rooms. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who do you think you is?

MICHAEL MUSTO, ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER, VILLAGE VOICE: It's a train wreck. Which makes you want to watch it.

ANNOUNCER: The downward spiral, and now the return of Whitney Houston.

Then, she's the sultry singing sensation who defied the odds of a difficult childhood.

MARIAH CAREY, SINGER: We went without a lot.

ANNOUNCER: Her music conquered the charts and the hearts of her audience. But then divorce, despair, and an unexpected meltdown.

CASTRO: 2001 was probably one of the worst years of Mariah Carey's life.

ANNOUNCER: Now emancipated, she's back, with a new album and a new outlook on life.

CAREY: I think that when you really understand it's not you driving this ship, it's God, and he's going to take you where you need to be.

ANNOUNCER: The voice of steel, Mariah Carey.

Now, from the pages of "People" magazine and the network for news, some of the most fascinating PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.


PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi. Welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn.

Fame, money, and power. Whitney Houston had it all. She was America's sweetheart, a world class diva. But years of marital strife, drug abuse and bad publicity have certainly taken their toll. Still, it's hard not to watch Whitney's public and private life unfold. Her odd behavior on "Being Bobby Brown," her husband's new reality show, is one of the main reasons the series has become a summer sensation.


ZAHN (voice-over): It's June 27th, 2005. The press has gathered in Atlanta, Georgia, for the reality series premiere of "Being Bobby Brown." The red carpet just a few feet long. The VIPs, few and far between. The woman emerging from the limousine, a shell of the superstar we once knew.

BROWN: As you know, you never fully recover. As long as you've been using this, how long it's going to take you to, you know, to take it. You know, but my wife is doing wonderful. She looks amazing.

ZAHN: Flashback 12 years. If ever an artist had one moment in time, this was hers.

CASTRO: It was almost superhuman.

WILLIAMS: Just Streisand.

MUSTO: You could not escape "I Will Always Love You."

ZAHN: And with that stunning ballad, all eyes were on Whitney Houston. 1992's "The Bodyguard" ushered in a musical icon, a crossover talent with blinding beauty, unlimited potential.

Nine albums, seven consecutive number one singles. There were Grammys, there was glory. She was pop's greatest love of all.

CASTRO: This was not something that was cooked in a recording studio. This was raw, raw talent.

ZAHN: With a cousin named Dionne and a music mogul named Clive, Whitney Houston was packaged, polished, primed.

But long before the darkest of days, there was pressure. And there were hints of rebellion ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we go through?

WILLIAMS: What she found is that, oh, my gosh, I can't, you know, bring my soup up to my mouth anymore. I can't -- you know, I'm so micro managed and so under a microscope. Oh, I'm just ready to be who I used to be.

And then she meets Bobby.

ZAHN: Bobby was Bobby Brown, R&B's chart-topping bad boy. And Mr. Brown's prerogative? Make Whitney Houston his wife.

WILLIAMS: Nobody expected it to last. Everybody thought it was a fleeting moment. All girls love bad boys. You know, it's one thing to date one, it's one thing to do one, but you marry him?

MUSTO: The public is still believing that even as we've read about Bobby using drugs and getting into all kinds of trouble with the law, we somehow thought, well, poor Whitney, never thinking she might be doing drugs, too. And then we finally saw her on that Michael Jackson tribute, where she was all skin and bones and had to be digitized to look human, and you knew something was terribly amiss in the Bobby Brown household.

ZAHN: Fourteen years later, the marriage survives, but what about the voice? The superstar? Where is Whitney Houston?

PASTOR BUSTER SOARIES, FAMILY FRIEND: We believe that Whitney Houston can come back. What would it take? A miracle. But people of faith believe in miracles.

ZAHN: She was born Whitney Elizabeth Houston on August 9th, 1963, in Newark, New Jersey. Her pedigree reads straight out of music's hall of fame.

CASTRO: If you went into a lab, you could not concoct a better pop icon in the beginning than Whitney Houston. I mean, you had Cissy Houston as your mother, Dionne Warwick as your cousin, and you had, you know, Aretha Franklin dropping in every so often into your church to sing a few bars and then leave.

ZAHN: Whitney's mother was gospel and blues great Cissy Houston. And not only did she work with the King and the Queen, she also led the choir at New Hope Baptist Church. It was here that a little girl found a great big gift.

SOARIES: Whitney sang in church every Sunday morning, New Hope Baptist Church. She just had a sense of timing. She had vocal clarity. She had range. And she sang with power.

ZAHN: She adored her father, revered her mother. They nicknamed her Nippy, and pampered her from the start.

SOARIES: Cissy and John always wanted more for Whitney than to just be a singer. They wanted her to be educated, articulate. They wanted her to surround herself with good people. And so they were very protective of her. They really wanted to keep the brakes on her so that she did not become consumed by her own talents.

ZAHN: But Nippy was drawn to the spotlight. By 1981, the 18- year-old was modeling, and auditioning for studios when cousin Dionne Warwick introduced her to the best ear in town.

MUSTO: Clive Davis is one of those music biz icons who creates talent, makes careers, and can remake careers. And he had remade Dionne Warwick to be hot again. He'd remade Aretha Franklin to be relevant again. And when he set his sights on Whitney Houston, he knew that this was the next Dionne and Aretha combined.

ZAHN: Coming up, the making, the madness, the molding of a mega star.

CASTRO: Everybody knew that her first album would be huge. No one expected it to be this huge.

ZAHN: But later, drugs, demons. Bobby Brown speaks.

BROWN: She took it wrong, I took it wrong, and then the 911 people took it wrong.


ZAHN: On Valentine's Day, 1985, Whitney Houston's love affair with the public began.

MUSTO: Whitney's first record was huge from the get-go, but it got bigger and bigger. It kept snowballing.

CASTRO: People fell in love with the wholesomeness, the beauty.

ZAHN: One year, one Grammy and 18 million albums later...

CASTRO: Let's see how that second one does.

ZAHN: ... album number two.

WILLIAMS: Everybody loved Whitney when she came out. Remember the album cover? It was sex appeal with girl next door. Appealing to black, white and everyone in between. And the world loved her.

ZAHN: Except, perhaps, the critics. And as Whitney's sophomore title rocketed to number one, the press scoffed at the pop star's sound.

MUSTO: I remember having arguments with critics who would say, well, she doesn't sound black. But I understood their point, that she had some gospel. And now, the gospel had been smoothed over, and she was Ms. Middle-of-the-Road R&B.

ZAHN: But in 1989, those middle-of-the-road rumblings dramatically changed lanes, as a squeaky clean princess met a notorious bad boy.

WILLIAMS: Bobby Brown, are you kidding me? He's humping around, he's my prerogative. Bobby was a mess from the beginning of New Edition. He always wanted to be the breakout star at all costs. And I think Whitney dug it.

ZAHN: On July 19th, 1992, Whitney and Bobby swapped rings, and the world scratched its head.

WILLIAMS: I think that Bobby was the person who co-signed on her wanting to get out of the box of being the good girl.

ZAHN: But hold that thought. Four months later, a blockbuster big screen debut.

"The Bodyguard" grossed more than $400 million. Its soundtrack sold 33 million copies.




ZAHN: And that single? Well, like a bullet, it hit number one and stayed there for 14 record-breaking weeks.

SOARIES: When she did "Bodyguard" and she had the number one record and the number one movie, it's almost impossible to prepare for a moment that's unprecedented. And unless you're surrounded by and saturated with an unusual support system, you're going to make a mistake.

HOUSTON: Don't laugh. ZAHN: In the coming years, step by step, we followed Whitney Houston's meteoric rise. But by the late '90s, a dramatic turn of events. Amid Bobby's multiple mugshots, Whitney began a string of missed appearances and cancellations. Soon, buzz began to build regarding the state of Mrs. Bobby Brown.

CASTRO: You started to get the hard evidence of Whitney Houston perhaps sliding into a world of dependency. It was around 2000. A string of things happened, which were calamitous for her.

ZAHN: In January of 2000, a pot bust in Hawaii. March 2000. An Oscar rehearsal goes up in flames.

MUSTO: She was missing cues, she was screwing up. And then come showtime, we all turned it on and -- that's not Whitney Houston. That's Faith Hill.

ZAHN: Headlines reached a fever pitch one year later, when the skeletal superstar emerged at the Michael Jackson tribute.

CASTRO: It was like, if there was any doubt before that Whitney Houston was having problems with substances, look no further. This is the ultimate proof.

ZAHN: In December 2002, an infamous interview with ABC.

HOUSTON: First of all, let's get one thing straight. Crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack, let's get that straight. OK? I don't do crack. I don't do that. Crack is whack.

WILLIAMS: And approximately two weeks after Diane Sawyer, I did my radio interview that became a light bulb moment in my career.

So, Whitney, as far as you stand with drug use, is there drug use going on at this present time?

HOUSTON: Who are you talking to?

WILLIAMS: To you, Whitney.

HOUSTON: No, you're not talking to me. I'm a mother. Only my mother has privy to that information. You talk to your child about that. Don't ask me no questions like I'm a child.

WILLIAMS: The conversation lasted for 28 minutes, and had lots of peaks and valleys.

What would you say the biggest issue is in your marriage?

HOUSTON: You people. You (EXPLETIVE DELETED) people like to run your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) mouth. Yeah.

WILLIAMS: But most of all, what I got from the conversation was a woman still in the grip, in the struggle.

ZAHN: Then, December 7th, 2003, the 40-year-old diva dialed 911. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fulton County 911, what's the address of the emergency?

HOUSTON: Ma'am, I'm at -- what's the address here?

CASTRO: She was very excited, and said that her husband, Bobby Brown, had hit her with an open hand, and she had a cut lip and bruised cheek.

ZAHN: A domestic dispute Bobby Brown claims was overplayed.

BROWN: Me and her were playing, you know. She took it wrong, I took it wrong. And then the 911 people took it wrong.

ZAHN: Three months later, an announcement that took no one by surprise.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Whitney Houston checks into rehab. The singer's publicist announced...

ZAHN: But just days later, Whitney walked.

Finally in March 2005, intervention by way of an unmarked police car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whitney Houston did not voluntarily admit herself into a rehabilitation facility.

CASTRO: Well, sources tell "People" magazine that it was Cissy that got a court order for Whitney's second rehab, and just said, get yourself cleaned out. This cannot go on.

BROWN: I'm working on a year and a half of sobriety, and my wife is -- she's working on her year. So we're really doing good. And I'm proud of her.

ZAHN: In June 2005, the embattled superstar emerged from rehab. Just as the world got its first look at her husband's reality on Bravo's "Being Bobby Brown." Shot over the course of six months, it's an eye-opening look at Whitney's life before her latest intervention.

MUSTO: Well, the buzz around the show is, it's a train wreck, which makes you want to watch it. That's what a reality show should be.

HOUSTON: I'm ready to get down.

BROWN: Good loving! Some good, good loving!


ZAHN: But what about the icon at the heart of Bobby Brown's now 14-year reality? Can she, will she, ever return as pop's greatest love of all?

WILLIAMS: Can Whitney come back? Not the way that we knew her. CASTRO: I don't think that Whitney Houston will ever hit those notes again. But you know what? A Whitney Houston that's half of the original is still better than most people out there now.

BROWN: I think anything that she does from this point on in her life is going to be historical. She's a very talented and very focused woman right now. And like I say, I'm very proud of her. Honey, I am extremely proud of you, and I love you dearly.


ZAHN: Whitney Houston may soon reunite with her old mentor, Clive Davis. The two met in June to discuss a new album. No release date has been set.

As for "Being Bobby Brown," the season finale airs on Thursday, August 11th.


ZAHN: If ever an artist owned the '90s, it was Mariah Carey. "Billboard" named her the artist of the decade. But after slumping sales, a tumultuous relationship and personal woes, Mariah had a very public meltdown.

Well, now, she's back on top. Her new album, "The Emancipation of Mimi," has become a blockbuster, announcing the return of one of music's most overwhelming vocal talents.

Not long ago, I sat down with Mariah for a rare and candid interview about her music, her marriage and her comeback.


ZAHN (on camera): Mariah, you once said that you had a desire to make music because it healed you and that you had a desire to become famous because it made you feel worthy and accepted.

CAREY: Because I thought it would make me feel worthy and accepted, and that was the big surprise.

ZAHN (voice-over): She's the biggest selling female recording artist of all time.

RANDY JACKSON, CAREY'S LONGTIME PRODUCER: This woman has sold 150 million records. This will never happen again in our lifetime probably.

ZAHN: Right behind Elvis, just beyond the Beatles, there she sits, a super diva with pipes of steel.

(on camera): What is that voice?

ANTONIO "L.A." REID, CHAIRMAN, ISLAND DEF JAM MUSIC GROUP: I don't know, man. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? I don't know.

ZAHN: Do you have a five-octave range or a seven-octave range?

CAREY: I don't know. I doubt that it's any -- I have no idea. I really don't. It's like, it depends on how much sleep I get that day.

ZAHN (voice-over): Thirteen albums, 16 number one singles, an estimated $300 million in the bank, but with every Grammy and with every gold record, there had been a few less than glittering moments. Mariah Carey's life, you see, has not been just a sweet, sweet fantasy.

For a decade and a half, we've watched the story unfold, the fame, the fortune, the marriage to a music mogul. The meltdown right in front of our eyes.

CASTRO: 2001 was probably one of the worst years of Mariah Carey's life.

JOHN NORRIS, SR. CORRESPONDENT, MTV NETWORK: You had this incredibly talented woman, whose personal life had gone to hell. I think what we saw with that period was a combination of the media maybe overplaying it, and Mariah, since then, has perhaps underplayed what happened a little bit.

ZAHN: This month, after a three-year absence, the voice returns.

(on camera): Mariah Carey is back.

JACKSON: She's back big time.

ZAHN (voice-over): Her latest is called "The Emancipation of Mimi." Critics are calling the disc a powerhouse return to form.

(on camera): How emancipated is she?

JACKSON: I think she's pretty free on this record. I mean, I think she's enjoying herself, having the best time and just enjoying doing music.

ZAHN: So, who is Mimi? And just what brought Mimi to this state of emancipation?

CAREY: I think it took going through everything that I went through since that whole 2001 situation, and it was just like me working myself into the ground, to the point where I had to just collapse, because there was nothing else.

ZAHN: Mariah Carey was born in Huntington, New York, on March 27th, 1970. Her father, an engineer, was African-American and Venezuelan. Her Irish-American mother performed with the New York City Opera.

(on camera): Where would you be today if it hadn't been for your mother's support and her encouragement along the way?

CAREY: She named me Mariah Carey. I don't have a middle name, because she was like, this is your stage name.

ZAHN: Well, it was (INAUDIBLE) song. And the name of that song was?

CAREY: "They Call the Wind Mariah," and I heard that song over and over as a child.

ZAHN (voice-over): But music wasn't the only thing filling the Carey household. Heated arguments were becoming repetitive as well. In 1973, the final curtain on a troubled marriage fell.

CASTRO: Her parents struggled tremendously with prejudice. They would move into a neighborhood and discover that their dogs were poisoned. That created a lot of tension between the parents, so that they split by the time Mariah was 3 years old.

CAREY: My white mother and my black father. It was bizarre. I mean, it's more accepted now, but it's still something where, if people can't put you in a box, they start to feel a little nervous, and I think that's been like a reoccurring theme, you know, in my life certainly and definitely in my career.

ZAHN: At the age of 4, a startling discovery -- the voice had begun to emerge.

CAREY: My mom, you know, tells the story of when she was singing "Carmen" in Italian over and over, and the one time she did something wrong and I was like 4, and I said no, it goes like this, and she was like "what?"

CASTRO: That was when her mother discovered she was pitch- perfect and could imitate any sound she heard. She was like a human parrot, only with an incredible voice for a child.

ZAHN (on camera): What is so interesting to me is that your love of music was nurtured.

CAREY: Um-hum.

ZAHN: During a period of your life where you moved about a dozen times in a 13-year period. Things were pretty rough at home. What did you go without at home?

CAREY: We went without a lot. Sometimes we had to live with friends. We had to live in situations that most people wouldn't think of as comfortable.

ZAHN: Like what?

CAREY: Like one day -- OK, we got to go, so we just pack up and leave, and it motivated me in a lot of ways. It made me say, OK, I have to succeed, because I don't want to live like this when I grow up.

ZAHN (voice-over): In 1987, with a high school diploma and 17 years of opera, gospel, and R&B tutoring, Mariah Carey packed a bag and headed to New York City.

(on camera): She wanted to be a superstar from a very young age.


ZAHN: When did you hear her tell you for the first time, Shawn, I'm going to get out of here, I'm going to make it big?

MCDONALD: As long as I knew her, I knew that she was going to make it big. She didn't have any other choice.

ZAHN (voice-over): Coming up, a Cinderella story. The emotions behind the making of Mariah.

CAREY: I love you!

ZAHN: And later, the fairy tale marriage with a not-so-happy ending.

CAREY: It was very much about, don't do this, don't say that, look like this, look like that. Don't sing this way, sing that way, and anything else you do is wrong.


WHITFIELD: Hello. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues in a moment, but first, here is a look at other stories in the news. Italian police are on the move today against possible terrorist plots after yesterday's arrest in Rome of a British man of African origin wanted in London. The man is believed to be one of four would-be bombers, all now in custody in connection with the failed attacks of July 21st. Italian officials convened a hearing today on Britain's request for the suspect's extradition.

An experiment in space for Discovery astronauts Steve Robinson and Soichi Noguchi. During a seven-hour space walk, the two applied caulk to purposely damaged space shuttle tiles in a test of potentially life-saving repairs. The repair technique was developed after damage to the Shuttle Columbia caused the craft to break apart on reentry two-and-a-half years ago.

And doctors gave President Bush a clean bill of health after his annual physical today in Bethesda, Maryland. They say Mr. Bush is in superior condition for a man his age group. He's 59.

More headlines in 30 minutes. Now, back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.


ZAHN (voice-over): In 1987, 17-year-old Mariah Carey left Long Island and headed to New York. Her dream was stardom. The wait wouldn't be long.

BRENDA K. STARR, RECORDING ARTIST: I think the audition was like about 4:30, 5:00 in the afternoon. Mariah showed up about 1:32. ZAHN: Just months after arriving, a want ad caught the teen's attention. '80s dance queen, Brenda K. Starr, was looking for backup singers.

STARR: And I asked her, why would you want to sing background for me? She says, well, honestly, I've taken my demo to several record companies, and they say that I have too much of a Whitney sound, and they won't give me a deal. And I was like, well, their loss and my gain.

CAREY: She was really, really cool to me. She really treated me like a little sister. And she knew like that I didn't have a winter coat.

STARR: I bought her sneakers. I bought her boots. I bought her food, and I was always trying to give her extra money. She was like, no, that's all right. I was like, take it.

ZAHN: In the coming year, Mariah survived on those handouts, but all would change on a Friday night in November, 1988.

STARR: I said listen, I'm going to this party tonight. Do you want to come with me, because there's going to be a lot of people in the industry? Just bring your demo, and I'll pass it on.

CAREY: So I said, OK. I borrowed a dress from her. I borrowed everything. The only thing that didn't fit were the shoes.

ZAHN: It was a typical music biz get-together, and as Mariah eyed the free food, Sony Music's new president eyed the crowd. His name was Tommy Mottola.

CASTRO: Tommy Mottola was a 43-year-old record executive with incredible credentials, tremendous amount of respect. This is the guy that was famous in the mid-'70s already as an up-and-coming wunderkind. He was a big, big deal.

STARR: He was like, who is your friend? I was like, that's Mariah Carey. She's my background singer. I was looking for a deal. She's talented, and he said that she's also beautiful.

CASTRO: So he gets into his limo, pops the tape in, starts driving back home, and realizes he's hearing something incredibly special. Turns around, goes back to the party.

CAREY: But we were gone. It's very Cinderella.

ZAHN: The mogul launched a massive search, and 48 hours later, Mariah Carey was seated in his office. Next to her, her mother; in front of her, a contract. The glass slipper was a perfect fit.

NORRIS: I think it's rare that an artist's first single is one of their still best loved after 15 years.

ZAHN: On May 15th, 1990, a debut album dropped, and a superstar was born, as the world got its first glimpse of Mariah Carey and her vision of love.


ZAHN (on camera): Four number one singles, two Grammy awards.

CAREY: Um-hum.

ZAHN: What kind of a whirlwind was that?

CAREY: I just wanted to hear my songs on the radio. To me, that would be success. When I was at the Grammys, then I was like whoa! I'm accepting this award but it doesn't seem real.

I'd just like to thank God for the blessings that have brought me hear, thank Tommy Mottola for believing in me from the beginning, and helping me so incredibly much.

CASTRO: It's the typical kind of ingenue-Svengali dynamic where he immediately falls madly in love with her. Only problem with that is that he was in a 20-year marriage at that point, with kids. So he promptly left his wife of 20 years, essentially to be with Mariah.

ZAHN: One year later, album number two.

NORRIS: Once Mottola discovered her, I mean, the machine took over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the winner is...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The number one pop artist of the year...


CASTRO: The '90s were her decade, and 1993 was the year where it all started for her. She went on an incredible tear after that.

ZAHN: On September 17th, 1993, Mariah's fourth album in just three years arrived in stores. With the help of two number one singles, "Music Box" would sell 10 million copies.

1993 was not only a watershed year professionally...

CAREY: Unbelievable.

ZAHN: ... but personally as well. Three months before the record's release, pop's reigning princess married her musical mentor.

CASTRO: Mariah was in love. She met this man who was not only like a father figure and a rescuer, but you know, someone who paid a lot of attention to her. I mean, he was very romantic and very attentive. But she told "People" magazine a few months after she got married, we're in love, this is great, but we do fight a lot.

CAREY: The problems kind of started happening as I started making videos, then started being seen by people in a way that I guess was threatening to him. I was in it, and then it turned into something else. So it was just a gradual process of, let me make this work, let me make this work, maybe if I get married it will work, because then he won't feel threatened.

ZAHN: Coming up, an emancipated Mariah talks candidly about the fractured fairy tale.

CAREY: I'm trying to think of the right word to express exactly what it was. It was stifling.



ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

Mariah Carey dominated the '90s. Hit followed hit. She was the all-American girl leading a very charmed life. But as the '90s progressed, Mariah's glittering world began to lose its luster.


ZAHN (on camera): The definition of emancipation is freeing someone from the control of another.

CAREY: It's one of the definitions. I actually list the definitions on the album packaging on the inside. So it's funny that you should say that.

ZAHN: But the subtext of that of course takes you straight to Tommy Mottola.

CAREY: Right.

ZAHN: How trapped did you feel by that relationship?

CAREY: We don't have enough time in this interview.

ZAHN: I'll give you all the time you want, Mariah.

(voice-over): On June 5th, 1993, pop's most bankable superstar, Mariah Carey, married Sony Music President Thomas D. Mottola. She was 23. He was 45. It seemed like one sweet day.

STARR: There were so many stars. I mean, I sat at a table with Barbara Streisand.

CASTRO: The wedding itself was modeled after Charles and Diana. Mariah had this ridiculously over-the-top flowing wedding gown, that you could fit five of her into this thing.

CAREY: That day itself, that half an hour of wearing the dress was not bleak.

ZAHN (on camera): And things went downhill from there. CAREY: Ah, well.

ZAHN: Ah, well.

(voice-over): To the public, Mariah Carey Mottola was living the fairy tale. But to some, there was already speculation.

NORRIS: There was a perception of her one she might take issue with. She was this little porcelain doll. You know, she was Tommy's kept doll to be brought out, to stand there, you know, to be the good girl, and to sing her ballads, to sing her heart out, and to wow us all as she can with her voice.

ZAHN: By the fall of 1993, it became apparent once upon a time was not heading toward happily ever after.

CASTRO: So she moves into this big mansion and realizes that she's living now with this very controlling person. I mean, Tommy, she says, does not allow her to leave.

ZAHN (on camera): But is it true that you would head for a cheeseburger at McDonald's, and you'd be getting phone calls on your cell phone, "where the heck are you going?"

CAREY: Basically, yeah. It was stifling.

ZAHN: At one point, you and your friends referred to this Bedford mansion you lived in with Tommy Mottola as Sing Sing. So I'm supposed to believe that you were almost in prison there, and you were expected to sing.

CAREY: To sing and sing.

I'm a jokester, so of course, you know, Sing Sing, it was -- it kind of worked. It was a choice I made. I can't blame him, because it was a relationship that I got into. Nobody held a gun to my head, I think.

ZAHN (voice-over): Whatever the circumstances, Mottola's methods worked. On September 19th, 1995, "Day Dream," Mariah's sixth album in just five years, debuted at number one.

NORRIS: "One Sweet Day" was this huge sort of pop anthem ballad with Boyz II Men, and it was just a monster. She also released a song called "Fantasy." The original single version, fun, up tempo, but somewhat unremarkable song.

Its remix, however -- that one remix is responsible for, I would argue, an entire wave of music that we've seen since, and that is the pop/hip-hop collaboration. You could argue that that "Fantasy" remix was the single most important recording that she ever made.

ZAHN: That remix was also important personally, signaling the start of Mariah Carey's return to her roots.

CASTRO: She was part African-American, and she loved hip-hop, but they would never allow her to do it, because she was the ballad queen.

CAREY: It was very much about, don't do this, don't say that, look like this, look like that, don't sing this way, sing that way, and anything else you do is wrong.

CASTRO: They didn't want to tamper with the golden goose. If it wasn't broke, let's not fix it. And Mariah was all about taking chances and really diversifying.

ZAHN: And on a cold December day in 1996, 26-year-old Mariah Carey left her music mogul husband.

CAREY: Something inside me that's always been a fighter just said, you're going to lose who you are if you don't hit the dirt.

ZAHN: Returning to the studio, this time on her own, she emerged with the album, "Butterfly."

NORRIS: She really was spreading her wings, and flying, flying away from a man that admittedly helped her in a huge way, career-wise, but you have to believe was pulling her back in many other respects.

ZAHN: Tommy Mottola declined CNN's request for an interview, but he did send us a comment. Quote, "over the course of my entire career, I have never commented on my personal life, but I would like to say that I continue to be Mariah's biggest fan. I have listened to the new CD, and I think it's her best work yet. I wish her continued success and much happiness, and I'm glad she got good use out of the wedding dress."

(on camera): Now, am I seeing things, or are you wearing that same wedding gown that you wore when you married Tommy Mottola?

CAREY: It is that Vera Wang gown.

ZAHN: So how did it feel when you put it back on, Mariah?

CAREY: That moment of wearing the dress was a really nice moment. I can't say the same for the honeymoon.

ZAHN: Coming up, all that glitters is not gold. The tabloids, the talk, the truth behind the meltdown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God! What are you doing?

ZAHN (on camera): So what went wrong in 2001 for you?


ZAHN (voice-over): In 1997, a Mariah Carey like we've never seen before emerged. Just minutes from finalizing her divorce to Sony Music President Tommy Mottola, the ring was gone, the hair was down, the butterfly was taking flight.

CAREY: You know, I think it was a moment in time that people saw such a transition between the girl that was always really covered up, to jumping into a pool in the "Honey" video in my Gucci stilettos and ripping off the dress and being in the James Bond bikini, which I loved and I lived for.

ZAHN: And with the new Mariah came a new reputation. In April 1998, she headlined VH1's "Divas Live."

(on camera): Mariah Carey, diva, deserved, undeserved?

REID: I'm not sure what diva is. Is diva a negative thing? I don't know. She's far, far, far from diva.

ZAHN: So why do you think she's gotten tagged with that over the years?

REID: Because she's so big, she's so successful. What else are they going to say? You're so big, you're so successful, I love you?

ZAHN (voice-over): Officially, Mariah was now a diva in training. It was during this time buzz began to build about her shortstop in spring training. His name, Derek Jeter, but the connection didn't last long. Six months later, the romance turned to friendship, which was hardly the case of Mariah, her ex-husband and the label she called home.

CAREY: It was completely horrible to be there after the divorce, and it was a constant battle, a constant, I've got to survive. I've got to get out of here. I've got to succeed on my own.

ZAHN: Album number nine arrived in November, 1999. Two number ones and one world tour later, a blockbuster announcement. Virgin Records was offering five years, five albums, $80 million.

NORRIS: It was astounding. It really was. I mean, even given Mariah's status as the biggest selling female artist of the '90s, that kind of deal you just do not see.

CASTRO: That Virgin deal was huge. They felt that they had a money-making machine, and then it all unraveled. It was a terrible, terrible sequence of events.

ZAHN: In the summer of 2001, Mariah Carey was everywhere. Her first album with Virgin was soon to be released. Her first motion picture was in the can. 2001 was supposed to be a glittering year.

NORRIS: I think she was just pushing herself so, so hard that this single, "Loverboy," and then the soundtrack and then the movie, all had to be right, and everyone points to that "TRL" appearance as the moment where it just seemed like she was on the verge of some sort of breakdown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing? What are you doing? Mariah Carey is stripping on "TRL" right now.

ZAHN: And then on July 25th, an outburst at her mother's home prompted a phone call to 911. And as the headlines blared, the superstar was hospitalized under psychiatric care. (on camera): So what went wrong in 2001 for you?

CAREY: I was working, working, working. I took it on my shoulders and said, I'm going to work, I'm going to work every single minute of the day. I don't care. I'm going to make this happen. And then basically, I didn't sleep for like six days in a row, and I just collapsed. And it was a physical thing, where nobody could have done that.

ZAHN: In the fall of 2001, both "Glitter" the film and album flopped. And as tabloids chronicled every move Mariah made, Virgin Records counted every penny they lost. In April, 2002, just one year after signing one of the biggest contracts in music history, Virgin paid Mariah $28 million and terminated their five-year deal.

CAREY: I think that it was a blessing, because I had to take a break. There had been no break since the demo tape, since the beginning, there had been no break. And when I was in my married life, my breaks were worse than working. I liked working more than I liked being at home. So it was just like, OK, let me have a moment to just regain who I am.

ZAHN: And on April 12th, 2005, a 35-year-old diva walked through the door, and reentered the party.

Her latest is called "The Emancipation of Mimi." Its title honors her childhood nickname and alludes to newfound freedom.

JACKSON: She's now really in control of her own life and her own music and guiding herself the right way.

ZAHN: From seven-octave highs to bittersweet lows, from beautiful ballads to restless R&B, the superstar of the '90s has returned.

NORRIS: Whatever the drama, whatever the diva image, deserved or not deserved, there's that voice. No one can take that away from her.

CAREY: Any time in my childhood, anything negative I was going through, I would sing. Any difficult situation, I would write poetry, I would write lyrics, I would write songs. And that's what got me through a lot of those really difficult years.

Making music is the thing that keeps me going. It's the greatest gift that I've really ever gotten.


ZAHN: Mariah's latest album, "The Emancipation of Mimi," has sold more than 3 million copies worldwide. The album's chart-topping hit, "We Belong Together," has become Mariah's 16th number one single. Only Elvis and the Beatles have more number ones.

That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Coming up next week, Jessica Simpson, from pop princess to Daisy Duke.

I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us. Hope you'll be back with us next week.


CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNNAvantGo Ad Info About Us Preferences
© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines