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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview with Mariah Carey

Aired November 4, 2009 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, global superstar Mariah Carey.

(MUSIC)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIAH CAREY, SINGER/ACTRESS: That happened very quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: On Michael Jackson's memorial.

(MUSIC)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAREY: It was very tough for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Her fans, her family...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Are you with child?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And the abuse bombshell she drops exclusively to us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAREY: Abuse has several categories. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Mariah Carey reveals a private side you haven't heard. You will now on LARRY KING LIVE.

(MUSIC)

KING: Hey, we're excited to welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE, Mariah Carey, the Grammy winning superstar, top selling female recording artist of all time. Her new album -- I clutch it here -- is "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel." The first single, "Obsessed," has already gone platinum. She's also appearing in the new film that everyone is raving about called "Precious."

It's great to have her. The last time you were -- you know the last time you were here, it was in 2002 -- seven years.

CAREY: Seven long years.

KING: What kept you so long?

CAREY: You didn't call me and invite me. And -- and every time -- though every time I watch you in "America's Sweethearts," I just -- it was classic.

KING: That's...

CAREY: That's why, before we get started, I was like, "Kee Kee?"

(LAUGHTER)

CAREY: And I was waiting for someone to tell me if I should push my hair back, but no one did.

KING: That was a great movie.

CAREY: It was a...

KING: It was a lot of fun doing it.

CAREY: ... Really great movie and you were a good sport.

KING: What do you mean by "Imperfect Angel" in the title?

CAREY: Well, I had written a song called "Imperfect." And I sort of wanted it to be -- it didn't make the album. But it -- it wouldn't -- I wanted it to be something where basically everybody, like -- but mainly like, you know, young girls or kids just growing up in school, would understand that, like, it's OK not to be -- try to be perfect, like the people in the magazines and everybody that we see that weighs two pounds and things that are unattainable, you know what I mean?

And if...

KING: Size zero?

CAREY: Yes. Size zero, which is a fabulous invention that we all love.

KING: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: So you -- here's a song called "Imperfect."

CAREY: (INAUDIBLE).

KING: You put the title in the title of the album, but don't include the song.

CAREY: Um-hmm.

KING: So the obvious question is...

CAREY: Why are you doing it?

KING: ... Why are you doing it?

CAREY: Well my -- one of my very dear friends and someone I love a lot, Mr. L.A. Reid, the Chairman of Island Def Jam, he didn't really like that song that much and I had so many songs. So when I came up with the title for this, I was just actually talking to Nick, my husband. And we were just thinking "Memoirs," because I'm always writing little things and I never finish them -- and it's, you know, moments and things. And so we put it together. And it sort of means, like, songwriting, this and that, it's OK. Believe me, I know I'm not perfect. And...

KING: You'll put it in your next one.

CAREY: Put the song?

I might -- actually, I'm doing a remix album right now that's almost done that's going to come out very soon. And I'm so...

KING: Put it in.

CAREY: ... Excited about it.

KING: You'll put it in.

CAREY: I've got to put it in.

KING: Yes.

You last did this show in December of 2002, as we said. Here's something you said.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM DECEMBER, 2002)

KING: You don't have a hunger to be in love?

CAREY: You know what, I think it would be nice. It would be nice. My problem is I can't really trust people, because you never know where their agenda -- what their agenda is. It's like you -- you befriend somebody, you listen to all their problems. You know, they talk about their stuff, you talk about yours. The next thing you know, they're lying to the world, saying that you had an affair and had a relationship with them. And it's like, you know, for me, at this point, I'm not sure that that's -- anything is worth it unless somebody like spectacular comes along who, you know...

KING: And that could happen tomorrow.

CAREY: You never know. KING: Aha And it did happen.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Along came Nick Cannon.

CAREY: Yes, he did.

KING: And you married in him in April of 2008 -- the actor, comedian, rapper, TV personality.

CAREY: And...

KING: How did that happen?

CAREY: ... CEO of TeenNick -- Nickelodeon. That happened very quickly. But I had met him in 2005.

KING: Oh, you had?

CAREY: He -- yes. On the Teen Choice Awards. They were giving me an award and he said, "OK. I'm not doing this unless I can give this to Mariah."

So he gave me the award and then he just stared at me and he didn't really talk.

And I said, "Well, I like all -- thank you for all the nice things you've been saying about me, because every friend I have it would be like, 'Man, that dude Nick Cannon really likes you.'"

And it was like, really?

I don't know if I trust that. I don't know if I believe that.

And then -- then we got together again in, you know, a couple of years later and we got a chance to talk. And we -- we connected on a lot of levels. And here we are.

KING: You're were 11 years old...

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Let me see that. Let me see.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: That signals ships.

CAREY: He designed it.

KING: Not bad. You -- you're 11 years older.

Any -- is that a problem at all?

CAREY: No, I'm 11 years old, almost. I'm actually 12. KING: Oh. You -- yes. Based on knowing you, I would bet on 11.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: But being 11 years older than him is a -- is that a problem?

CAREY: No, because we're both the same. We both like the same things. We both like -- we are really both big kids. Like, we both like roller coasters. Where he -- he rented out Six Flags for me and had a party. And...

KING: He rented out Six Flags?

CAREY: He did.

KING: Yes.

CAREY: And surprised me. And...

KING: That's a nice surprise.

CAREY: It was a very nice surprise, because, like I said, I'm eternally 12. And I like festive moments. I don't -- I really don't like being a grownup. It's not fun. And I never wanted to be a grown up. But then I have to go into my business. I had to be very serious and specific and blah, blah, blah. And after work, I just call somebody and laugh and do whatever.

KING: So inside, you're 12 years old?

CAREY: Eternally. That's what I say.

KING: Do you want to have children?

CAREY: Yes. But this particular moment -- and by this particular moment, I mean this month or next month -- I'm probably -- I'm not sure what I'm doing, but my schedule is out of control. It's out of control, because I've never promoted a -- a movie and an album at...

KING: At the same time?

CAREY: ... The same time. And -- and really been devoted to both things. And I'm trying to be there, because I love Lee Daniels. He really took a chance with me...

KING: He directed you in the movie?

CAREY: Yes. He directed me in the movie.

KING: We're going to get to the movie. We're going to show clips here.

CAREY: OK.

KING: But you say, this month, next month, does that mean you could have a child in seven months?

CAREY: Yes.

KING: Are you with child?

CAREY: Right now?

I'm going to have a...

KING: You could tell me.

CAREY: ...swig of my scotch and let you know.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Take a swig and I'll wait. Boy, that would be great news. It would be the happiest thing of -- in your life.

CAREY: It would be the happiest thing in my life. But what I'm saying is right now, with this movie coming out and with the next few singles from the album and those things that I'm doing, I -- I need to focus on that, because I cannot do the having a child thing half way. I wouldn't just be like, oh, I'm having a child. Yes. Let me get a nanny so I can give her the baby. You know, take the kid. I (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Yes. You don't want that.

CAREY: That doesn't work for me. I don't -- I don't believe in it.

KING: So when you do have children, you're -- are you going to be less show biz, more mom?

CAREY: Yes. I mean, I'll always be show biz. Come on, I can't help it. It's in my genes. My mother was an opera singer. I'm clearly dramatic.

KING: Clearly.

(LAUGHTER)

CAREY: And so, you know, it's the way it is. I can't help it, darling. It just doesn't work any other way.

KING: Are you actually -- did you say you're in love for the first time with Nick?

CAREY: Yes, I did.

KING: So the previous times, is it you felt you were, but weren't, when you -- this is, of course, upon reflection.

CAREY: Reflection is an interesting thing. Yes, when I was very young, I was like, this is amazing that somebody wants to take care of me and help me and la, la, la, la, but not realizing it was a two way street and I was doing the same thing for them. And so, you know, it was kind of...

KING: Controlling?

CAREY: It was a little stifling, yes. And other situations I was in, like puppy love and it didn't really...

KING: There's nothing like the real thing.

CAREY: Nothing like the real thing, baby.

KING: Mariah Carey performed, by the way, at Michael Jackson's memorial back in July -- a tough day for her. We'll ask her about that, her relationship with Michael, talk about the album, the movie, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

KING: That was a clip from the video for "Obsessed," a single from "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel." "Obsessed," the number one on Billboard's Dance Club and Radio Charts. The song has gone platinum.

CAREY: Yes.

KING: That's pretty great. Oh, it's a great song.

CAREY: It is. It's really cool. But the funny thing, everyone always asks me, like, how -- why did you dress up as a stalker, as the -- you know...

KING: Yes.

CAREY: ...as the guy in the video. And who are you depicting and blah, blah, blah?

And I say, I just look like my brother to me. You know, I look like a different version of my brother.

KING: What does he do?

CAREY: He does several things. And he hates when I talk about him on TV, so I won't.

KING: OK, we won't.

CAREY: But I love him.

KING: What was the -- the Michael Jackson -- it was a tough day for you, Michael Jackson, doing that?

CAREY: It was almost impossible.

Were you there?

KING: Yes, I was. (MUSIC)

KING: That was a sad -- that was a sad, but glorious day, in a way. It was incredible.

CAREY: It was very sad. And -- and I was not told that the casket was going to be there. I didn't know. Like, all my singing friends, like that I -- that I really revere and think are good, we always say, we can't imagine singing in a funeral, because your throat closes up and, you know, especially if you're emotional. And then they said, all of a sudden, first -- Mariah, you're going on first. And I was like -- I didn't know what to expect.

So I just wanted to do justice at least to the song and I didn't feel that -- that I -- I don't know. It was -- it's not about the perfection of each note. It's really about the feeling that...

KING: That's all that counts is to sing like that.

CAREY: It was -- it was tough.

KING: You're not in a studio doing an album.

CAREY: No, you're not. But it was -- it was very tough for me. I just saw "This Is It," though.

KING: Did you like it?

CAREY: Yes, I did.

Did you like it?

Did you see it?

KING: I haven't seen it yet.

Did you get along well with Michael?

CAREY: I did get along well with Michael, I think. We had several -- all kinds of different conversations and...

KING: Did you ever record with him?

CAREY: No, I didn't -- did I record -- I recorded, actually, on a song that he had written after 9/11. And...

KING: Oh, a -- a group song.

CAREY: Yes. And then I also sang with him on stage a couple times.

KING: We have a Twitter question.

We have Twittering questions.

CAREY: Oh. KING: "Who does Mariah see as her audience, still kids and teens or more mature?"

CAREY: My audience -- well, there's some -- some of them are outside right now.

KING: Yes.

CAREY: My audience is something that I think -- you know, at the -- there are the diehard fans and then there are people that like a specific song. And they may be older for that, you know, for that song. And then when it's a song that I may do, like a collaboration with perhaps a rapper or I just do my own song that's kind of like -- like the "Obsessed" song that's out there, then it's -- then it really skews younger and more ethnic.

KING: You're the -- you're the best-selling female recording artist of all time. You have more number one singles than any solo artist, including Elvis.

Does that...

CAREY: Don't say that. People get freaked out.

KING: Does that also put a kind of pressure on you that the next one has to be a hit?

CAREY: No, because I don't need to...

KING: The company expects it, though, don't they?

CAREY: Well, I'm sure they like it. But they've got to work to make that happen, too, because it's not just me. I mean I have to make the song and believe that it's a hit. And sometimes we disagree on which is the bigger hit. And I delicately ask, "Will you guys please listen to me just sometimes -- just sometimes, when I really believe in a song?"

KING: Do the suits listen?

CAREY: Well, you know, it's funny. At the label that -- where I am now, which I'm very happy being there, you know, but the music business is like all askew. But they are not really suits. They're cool. Like, L.A. Reid is a -- is a great producer. He writes songs. He -- you know, he -- so I can -- we talk to each other more creatively. It's less about the business.

But the business guys, they listen to what they want to listen to and we love them. We love you, Steve.

KING: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Yes, like, "We love you, Larry," from "America's Sweethearts." CAREY: No, no, that's -- I love Larry.

KING: Mariah is returning to acting with a role in the new film, "Precious," which is getting a lot of buzz. We'll take a look at her in action in 60 seconds. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

KING: We're back with Mariah Carey, who has a small but pivotal role in an acclaimed new film called "Precious." It's based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire. Mariah plays a tough love social worker named Mrs. Weiss.

Here's an intense excerpt featuring Mariah's character and Precious, played by a newcomer, Gabourey Sidibe.

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "PRECIOUS," COURTESY LIONSGATE)

GABOUREY SIDIBE, ACTRESS: You don't even like me.

CAREY: Have we not been in this room together for like a year discussing your life?

SIDIBE: Does that mean we like each other, because we discuss my life?

CAREY: I can't speak for you. I can only speak for me. And I do like you. I do.

SIDIBE: So are you Italian or -- what color are you, anyway?

Are you some type of black or Spanish...

CAREY: What color do you think I am?

No, I'd like to know.

What color do you think I am?

SIDIBE: My throat is dry.

CAREY: Your throat is dry?

SIDIBE: Yes. It's really hot in here.

CAREY: It is kind of hot in here. I'm going to go get a soda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Mariah Carey like you've never seen her before.

We'll talk to her about her role in "Precious" and why she said she had to drink the ugly juice to play the part, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "PRECIOUS," COURTESY LIONSGATE)

CAREY: What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about home?

SIDIBE: (INAUDIBLE).

CAREY: You're going to have to talk to somebody if you want your check, sweetie.

(MUSIC)

CAREY: Sweetie, talk about the abuse in your household. You know what I'm talking about.

SIDIBE: You sit there and judge me and you write them notes on your pad about who you think I am.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: By the way, Mariah Carey's "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel" is the number one R&B album in America today.

Why did you take the role in "Precious" -- a role that they considered Helen Mirren for, the British actress, who's much older than you?

So it didn't have to be a white or it didn't have to be a black, it didn't have to be young, it didn't have to be old, it didn't have to be pretty.

Why did you take it?

CAREY: Well, I had just worked with Lee Daniels on another independent film, which I feel like that was our learning experience of how to work together and our -- you know, we're very close friends now. And I just trust him. And I -- I really believe he knows what's right when it comes to his projects.

So at the last minute, they did say that -- he did tell me that about Helen Mirren. And I hope that it's correct, because I don't want to run around spreading lies. But, I mean, that's daunting. And I didn't really know that's -- that's who they had considered -- clearly, this Oscar winning, fabulous actress.

And he just said, look, I need -- you know, this is last minute and I know it, but -- but -- and it was only like three days before.

KING: Oh, really?

CAREY: Yes. So my prep time was -- and...

KING: How about the question of playing down the looks?

CAREY: Well, here's what he said -- I'm going to make you -- I'm going to make you under and then we're going to make you over with some couple of things, like a little moustache on the sides and a little...

KING: Yes, I didn't notice that.

CAREY: ... And a little red, you know, stuff that's really pretty. And I love it. I do it every day if I do my own makeup. Joking.

Anyway, so he knows that. And it's funny, because I went with Brett Ratner, a really good friend of mine, that directed "Obsessed." And he said, "Mariah, I can't believe it. It's every nightmare you have. It's overhead fluorescent. It's this, it's that, it's -- you know, all these things you can't stand."

Why I considered it?

I loved "Push," the book, the novel by Sapphire. I had read it a long time ago when a friend of mine named Rhonda gave it to me and said, "If you don't read this, you can't leave."

So I was like, "OK." And then I read it. And it pretty much changed my life. And -- and I read it again. And it stayed with me for years.

And then, finally, I guess people had been wanting the rights to "Push." And Sapphire had been turning them down -- to make it into a film, big people. And Lee got the rights. And when I found that out, I was like, "I'm so excited for you, I'm so happy," not thinking there was a role for me and not thinking that he would really consider me for it. I didn't know -- you know, I was just happy for him.

But when he called me and said, "I've got to make you -- you're not going to like it. You're not going to like how you look and you've got to lose the whole, you know, diva thing," which is like such a tired thing, because I know what a diva really means. I have an opera singing mother. People don't know what it means.

KING: Yes.

CAREY: But, you know, so I said, "OK, fine."

KING: OK. I'll tell you what.

CAREY: Um-hmm.

KING: Look at the way you look now.

Let's take another look at "Precious."

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "PRECIOUS," COURTESY LIONSGATE)

SIDIBE: And I don't want you to sit there and judge me this way.

CAREY: You shut up and you let him abuse your daughter.

SIDIBE: I did not want him to abuse my daughter. I did want him to hurt her.

CAREY: But you allowed him to hurt her.

SIDIBE: I did not want him to do nothing to do her. So (INAUDIBLE) she told you I did to her.

Who -- who -- who else was going to love me?

Hmmm?

Who was going to make me feel good?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What ugly juice did you drink to play that?

CAREY: It's this really good stuff. I'm going to market it. It's called, "I want to be in the movie and this is what's required." I've been working on my craft for a long time. People never want to let go of the whole glitter, dah, dah, dah, dah. I'm like, it's eight years later, people. Let's move on.

And Lee saw me in a -- a film with Mira Sorvino, who, you know, I really love. And she gave me a chance to be one of her kind of like sidekicks in this movie, "WiseGirls." And that's where he got the idea that he wanted to work with me initially. So that's, you know, one of the things that made me say, I'm going to get this thing -- this thing right. And I have to lose not only my physical situation...

KING: Yes.

CAREY: ...but my mannerisms, the way I speak...

KING: You have to act.

CAREY: And you have to act, but for real, because he really wanted to lose every inch of me.

KING: Tell me about the young lady, Precious -- the young lady playing...

CAREY: Gabby?

KING: What a...

CAREY: She's a find like I've never seen before. Like, she's an amazing young talent. And this is her first film. And Mo'Nique is incredible in this movie. The whole cast is really amazing. But I have to really discuss Mo'Nique, because when I played Ms. Weiss, I had to -- I had to be strong -- as strong as the character. And the -- the lady she's playing is quite evil. And the abuse that happened was beyond intense. So they want a check from me. And I -- and I -- you know, I was very emotional during the scene, because Lee makes us go over it and over and over. And I had to stop myself at one point and just wipe that tear and pretend like the camera people did -- I didn't want anyone to see this. I needed to remain strong.

KING: Yes.

Mariah has been performing in the spotlight for nearly half her adult life.

How has her career and her voice changed with the years?

That's ahead.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Some brilliant person once said that the only constant is change. So, Mariah, you've changed over the years. In fact --

CAREY: The sparkle in my eye is gone?

KING: The smile is just a careless yawn. It's all over now --

CAREY: See, I just wanted Larry to sing.

KING: -- you've changed. I know those.

CAREY: And later you'll sing the Mariah song for me again?

KING: Way out -- OK. In this -- in this album, you have, what -- you've taken part of your life, early pictures, later pictures, what?

CAREY: Well, this -- like, in particular, the picture with the curly hair and the microphone is new. I just -- I just did that. And the one on the bottom is from my first album, the back of the first album. That's the front of my first album, a little picture in the middle, and then the -- and actually Nick had suggested to do this, because he said, "Who else can -- can do the same look like at this point?" Because he's sees me at home, and it's a no make-up 12-year- old thing that he likes of me. And this -- that necklace is from him. That's the only difference. It's the MCC.

KING: How have you changed? Have you changed vocally?

CAREY: You know what? I did a cover of Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is" on this album, for the people who really --

KING: It wasn't the song you wrote, right?

CAREY: Yes, it's the one song I didn't write. And I've only done, like, a few remakes -- three, maybe, "I'll Be There," and, you know, that was Michael's, and "Without You," Harry Nilsson. And they've always been very successful for me.

And so I wanted to do this as more of a worldwide thing, because internationally, people really like songs they've already heard, a lot. So I did because I wanted to be like, OK, I will give you a straight vocal performance, and that's what we'll do. And I actually -- you know, I know that the -- the people that like my older stuff like that.

But, see, I've evolved. And I've been doing different music -- I mean, musically, by the time I got out of my first marriage -- well, actually, one year before that, I worked with an artist called Ol' Dirty Bastard, may he rest in peace. And we had a number-one record for eight weeks on the hip-hop chart with a song called "Fantasy," based on a loop by the Tom Tom Club. And that's what I love.

So you can still hear the voice, you can still hear all that, but I -- I always try to lean a little bit more R&B, because it's what I like the most. But I still -- there's a song called "H.A.T.E.U.," believe it or not, but it stands for "Having a Typical Emotional Upset." And it's -- it's breathy in the beginning, and then it gets -- it builds vocally.

But it's -- it's the new single, in addition to "I Want to Know What Love Is." And I just feel like, you know, maybe people would have wanted -- like, certain people want me to belt all the time. I don't like to belt all the time. It's boring as hell. I like --

KING: There's a new AT&T commercial which plays off your image as a pampered diva. Have you seen it?

CAREY: Yes, darling, I have.

KING: Let's take a look and get a comment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: E-mailed you the list. Her plane just landed. Go!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need a rush order of orchids. Thanks.

Excuse me. I'm looking for a dog bed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What kind of dog?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, this kind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nice dog.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh.

Dude, just made out with Mariah Carey.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: All right. You knew they were going to do that, obviously. You participated.

CAREY: I knew sort of. I didn't know what he was going to say at the end. And I participated and then was, like, oh, the diva thing, that's new. But, you know, I had fun.

KING: What is a diva?

CAREY: Well, technically, a diva -- and I know this because -- like I've said a zillion times, my mom sang opera and other styles of music -- a diva, probably the first definition would be a talented vocalist, usually an opera singer. That's the first definition.

KING: Most associated with opera.

CAREY: Yes.

KING: When did it come down to the Mariah Careys and the Chers?

CAREY: Oh, thank you. Are you telling me they took a leap down now?

KING: No, no, no. When did it change from the opera, high up there in high C country, world?

CAREY: I think they started -- I don't know when. Honestly, I don't know when. I just grew up hearing my mother talk about certain opera singers that she knew. And she's say, "Oh, so and so is very much the diva."

KING: It's a negative.

CAREY: No, but that's just her, how she kind of would speak. She meant it like she's a diva and she's talented. And talent was always in there.

But the second definition in the dictionary, probably -- I could be wrong, so I'll acknowledge that -- is a difficult woman. And I don't like that they have to put "woman" there, but that was back in the day when they wrote those dictionaries.

So -- but now it's like everybody's a diva. The Cupcake Lady -- oh, the Diva of Cupcakes. You're the diva of, you know, whatever it is. It's sand, you make great sand castles. It doesn't have the same connotation.

KING: It lost its meaning.

CAREY: To me it has.

KING: Much more with Mariah Carey right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Mariah Carey is our guest. Her new album, "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel," is the number one R&B album in the country. Her fragrance is Forever. You've got a fragrance?

CAREY: I've got three, Larry. You haven't been following my fragrance game.

KING: Well, I --

CAREY: My fragrance game is pretty -- it's doing good.

KING: Do you select your fragrances?

CAREY: I was told by Elizabeth Arden -- and this is true -- that I am the hardest-working person they've ever met in terms of even a designer or a celebrity that worked on their fragrance. Like, I worked from the inception.

KING: Smelling?

CAREY: Smelling, deciding. You know, they first thought it out to see what I like, and they try and trick you, to see if you just don't know what you like. And I was really on it. So they're like, OK, we want to work with you more and more on these fragrances.

KING: Isn't the problem with fragrances -- and this is from a man's standpoint. When I go into a store and they got these fragrances, this, this and this, they start to all smell the same. If you do them one after the other, how do you tell the difference?

CAREY: Well, they're different. And I don't want to go on a tangent, but there are different notes, as they call them, ironically.

KING: Notes?

CAREY: Notes. So you'll have, like, the musk note, which is more of the male situation. But we put in the females, too. Then there's the gourmand note, so it's something -- I think Karl Lagerfeld used the scent of bread, because he was into something. And I think that's genius.

But I used -- I used several different things.

KING: And the title "Forever" means this will -- use this and you can use it forever, or --

CAREY: You could find someone that you may be with forever if you want to.

KING: Do you wear Forever?

CAREY: I wear Forever. Do I have it on today? I think -- see, I put it there, because we have a dabber, so you can dab and dab and dab. Also, with the lower-priced one, you can spray if you want.

KING: Is it expensive?

CAREY: No, it's moderately priced. But I picked out the bottle myself as well. I helped work on all that stuff.

KING: Oh, you're involved.

CAREY: I'm involved. I love it.

KING: When you travel, are you into all sorts of things? Like what that commercial said. Do you do that -- I want this food, I want that there, this must be here? Put that there, I want this dog?

CAREY: Well, I do say I would like -- well, I have my own dog. Actually, she's pregnant. I have two dogs.

KING: But her master isn't?

CAREY: Her master? Well, let me take some of the vodka next to me.

KING: Why aren't you answering?

CAREY: Ellen did that to me and tried to put me on the spot with the some alcohol.

KING: OK. All right. OK. I'm not trying --

CAREY: With real alcohol.

KING: I'm not trying to put you on the spot. I mean, it's nice if you are.

CAREY: No.

KING: Are you particular when you travel?

CAREY: You know, I don't think I'm more particular than other people, but maybe I am. I don't know. I mean, I know what I like, like you know what you like. And when it's your show, it's your show.

KING: True.

CAREY: I'm traveling around with a bunch of people. It's my show.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Do you like an entourage?

CAREY: You know what? It's necessary at this moment in my life. It won't always be that necessary. You know, it's not like an entourage of people that are, like, "You're so this. You're so nice. Oh, you do that so well. That was cool."

Like, no.

KING: No, you don't want that.

How does Nick handle the fact that his wife, as talented as he is, is more famous?

CAREY: I think that he -- look, he's really talented. My two favorite films he's been, his performances in "Bobby" and in "Drumline," that's -- you know, I knew him as a -- you know, his film work. I wasn't really -- like, he had several shows he's created.

KING: Yes.

CAREY: I don't think it's a contest. And I don't even know that I am more famous. I don't know that that makes -- I don't know.

Do you know what I mean? It's hard for me to answer the question because, I mean, I feel like we're a couple, and we're usually together. And --

KING: But more people know you than know -- he would admit that.

CAREY: Well, who knows who's screaming at who? I don't know.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Still ahead, we'll talk about Rihanna and Whitney and more. Back with Mariah in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

KING: Big news for Mariah fans. She'll be performing New Year's Eve at Madison Square Garden. That's right. And then right after that, she runs into the street, and she's going to kiss Nick Cannon for the first kiss of 2010.

CAREY: After my performance.

KING: You heard it here, after the performance.

One of Mariah Carey's biggest hits was a beautiful song called "Hero." Before we show you tonight's CNN Hero, I want to read you some of the lyrics.

"And then a hero comes along with the strength to carry on. And you cast your fears aside and you know you can survive.

(SINGING)

KING: Now let's take a look at tonight's CNN Hero.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WYCLEF JEAN, RAPPER: How are you all doing? My name is Wyclef Jean. At the first annual CNN Tribute Show, I had the honor of performing to help recognize the great works of every day citizens changing the world. As a founder of Yearly Haiti, an organization which seeks to improve lives in my native country, I'm thrilled to help CNN introduce one of this year's top ten honorees. Now, more than ever, the world needs heroes.

DERRICK TABB, CNN HERO: Life after Katrina was really hard for a kid. You have the violence, the drug life. I'm just tired of it. My aim is get kids off the streets.

My name is Derrick Tabb and I started a free music education program for the kids of New Orleans.

Let's go. Horns up.

We do more than just teach music. We offer transportation. We offer instruments. I feed you, so you're not hungry. We give you tutoring.

We have a no excuse policy. You have no excuse why you're not here.

You don't have to have any experience.

Just like that.

We meet five days a week year around. We constantly learning something new, and that's what keeps the kids coming back every day.

I don't say I'm saving lives. I say I'm giving life, but a whole different life of music.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What's next for Mariah Carey? I'll ask her when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Whitney Houston, who has been put in the "diva" category, whatever that is, you and she recorded a duet, "When You Believe," for the film "Prince of Egypt."

CAREY: Yes.

KING: What about the thoughts she's had and trouble she's endured? How do you think she's come out?

CAREY: You know, I don't really follow all the tabloidy, you know, gossipy Internet, whatever, stuff, because when I worked with Whitney, I had a great experience. I mean --

KING: She ain't bad.

CAREY: Yes. She's pretty good.

I mean, look, she influenced thousands of singers. That's what she should be, people should talk about. Because I don't know her personal business, and I really have a hard time believing that most things are true. KING: Do you know Rihanna?

CAREY: Yes, I do.

KING: What did you make of that story?

CAREY: Oh, yes. Yikes. I don't know. I think that I can't imagine if I had been let -- I was very, you know, sequestered when I first started out. And if I was just allowed to be, like, young and with a young boyfriend who's also a star, and you're working and you're both -- I don't know what goes on.

Do you know what I mean? So, it's, like, I wasn't really allowed out of the house, so I can't imagine what she went through?

KING: So you've never been abused like that, ever been hit by anyone? Anyone ever abused you?

CAREY: Abuse has several categories.

KING: You've been emotionally abused?

CAREY: Emotionally, mentally --

KING: Why is it hard to get out of it?

CAREY: Well, it's scary. If someone -- I mean, there's other things and other times in my life and things that I will eventually talk about when I write my book. And people that have -- like, nobody in my family or anything like that, but just certain things that also make me identify with "Precious," the movie.

But, you know, I just think you get into a situation and you feel locked in, if you feel your situation is similar to one of the situations I've been in, which I won't --

KING: No, you don't have to -- but it is hard to get out.

CAREY: For me, to really get out, it was difficult, because there was a connection that was not only a marriage, but a business thing, where the person was in control of my life.

KING: You had a downturn in 2001, went to a hospital and everything, but bounced back. Did you ever during that time think you wouldn't bounce back?

CAREY: Never, because I have so much faith. And I'll never lose my faith, ever. Hebrews 11, if anyone wants to look it up in the bible, is very important to me.

I know it's not like the cool thing to be a person that's like, I'm a believer, I believe in God, that's how I get through things. But that's the truth with me.

And I'm not saying I'm perfect, believe me. But that's actually a connection that Nick and I have. So, you know, I never lose hope, I never lose faith. And I think my mother helped to instill that in me in terms of my career, because she would say, "Don't say, 'If I make it,' say, 'When I make it.'"

KING: Good way to look at it.

We have an e-mail question from Justin in the Bronx, New York.

"Dear Mariah: You have millions of fans all over the world. We all love you. What's the craziest fan experience you've had?"

CAREY: Well, I don't want to call any of my fans crazy because I love them all. They are my extended family. But what is -- what has happened to me that --

KING: Anybody ever jump on stage?

CAREY: They try, but see that man sitting over there? He kind of --

KING: Rocky.

CAREY: He protects me. He and several others.

KING: Do fans bug you?

CAREY: No. Nobody bugs me. Look, if someone's not a fan and they're saying something that's disrespectful, I mean, I just brush it off. But my fans that are my fans real fans -- nobody has better fans than me.

KING: More with Mariah. I'll sing a little song for her, too, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING (singing): Way out here they've got a name for wind and rain and fire, the rain is Tess, the fire is Joe, and they call the wind Mariah.

CAREY: Where's the rest?

KING (singing): Mariah -- come on. Mariah. They call -- I've got a bad cold -- they call the wind Mariah.

CAREY: And I would join in with you, but I haven't slept in 18, 23. So --

KING: "They Call the Wind Mariah" is from "Paint Your Wagon."

CAREY: Yes.

KING: An e-mail question from Seth in Boston, which should tell us a little bit about where your future is going.

"You've mentioned you're recording a Christmas duet with your mother, the opera singer Patricia Carey. Can we expect another Christmas album from you?"

CAREY: Yes, you can.

KING: When?

CAREY: Very soon.

KING: This Christmas?

CAREY: It's not going to make it for this Christmas because I'm barely -- I mean, we're at, like, Thanksgiving now. I'm getting my skills together for my first Thanksgiving dinner in L.A. with Nick's family and maybe some of my family. So I'll see what's going on.

KING: Your earlier Christmas album was a big hit.

CAREY: Every year it does its thing.

KING: "All I Want for Christmas is You."

CAREY: Yes.

KING: A great song.

CAREY: Yes. And I wrote that song on a little Casio keyboard, whatever.

KING: Are Christmas albums usually recorded in August?

CAREY: You know what? They usually are because you've got to make your --

(CROSSTALK)

KING: I know. So you've got to sing "Frosty the Snowman" and it's 92 degrees; right?

CAREY: Yes. But I put a Christmas tree -- I love Christmas. Like, I'm obsessed with all things -- I actually have a Santa Claus -- because, of course, he exists -- and he comes to the house. And we go to Aspen every year. And he comes to the house, and I have real reindeer, live reindeer at the house. Yes.

So, anyway, and recording --

KING: And nobody's perfect.

CAREY: Nobody's perfect, but guess what? I like that. That's festive. And usually I'll do something charitable with kids and that whole thing, because they really freak out. It's fun.

But yes, recording in August for Christmas, I just put a little Christmas tree there and try to get festive.

KING: How do you try to make a Christmas album different? I mean, you do the traditional songs, right? CAREY: Well, I try to -- I was going to write three new songs. And I wrote three new songs for that album.

And you know what I love? Is that people always tell me they play my Christmas album ever year, whatever religion they are, if they just want to get into the Christmas spirit.

KING: Well, you are one of my favorite people.

CAREY: Oh, likewise.

KING: You're the best-selling female recording artist of all time, more number one singles than any solo artist, including Elvis.

The movie is "Precious." It will be out soon.

The album is "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel." That is already number one, R&B, everywhere.

Thanks for being with us.

CAREY: Thank you for having me.

KING: -- as always.

CAREY: And for singing to me.

KING: Mariah, you should have sang with me, but I understand.

CAREY: We'll plan our duet next time.

KING: OK. I'll -- OK.

"AC 360" starts right now.