Singer Mariah Carey to star in reality series

SINGER MARIAH CAREY (above), on why she is filming new documentary series, Mariah's World
SINGER MARIAH CAREY (above), on why she is filming new documentary series, Mariah's WorldPHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Eight-part series will follow her while she is on tour and planning her wedding

NEW YORK • The Kardashian reality television clan will welcome a new neighbour to the E! line-up later this year: singer Mariah Carey.

Carey will be the star of a new eight-part documentary series, Mariah's World, which will follow her as she goes on a tour in Europe and South Africa that began on Tuesday, and plans her wedding to her casino tycoon fiance James Packer, which is to take place this spring. (No date has been set yet.) But whatever you do, do not use the R-word when discussing the series with Carey.

"I refuse to call it a reality show," she said in a telephone interview. The series, she said, is all about getting to know her better and not, as she put it, "Here I am, getting my nails done."

"I thought it would be a good opportunity to kind of, like, show my personality and who I am, even though I feel like my real fans have an idea of who I am," she explained. "A lot of people have misperceptions about this and that."

The show began filming two weeks ago, as she wrapped up a Las Vegas concert series, and will move to her international tour with members of her entourage - including singers, dancers and her manager - serving as co-stars.

I thought it would be a good opportunity to kind of, like, show my personality and who I am, even though I feel like my real fans have an idea of who I am. A lot of people have misperceptions about this and that.

SINGER MARIAH CAREY on why she is filming new documentary series, Mariah's World.

The series (each episode will be an hour long) is expected to debut later this year.

E! is positively giddy at the prospect of showcasing someone with Carey's celebrity status. "We haven't seen a star of her level and her history" appear on television quite this way, Mr Jeff Olde, E!'s executive vice-president for programme development, said.

Carey's life has, at times, played out like a soap opera. Her romances over the years, whether with record executive Tommy Mottola or television host Nick Cannon (both of whom she married) or baseball player Derek Jeter, have been prime tabloid fodder.

But even if there are questions about her voice and her continued ability to sell albums, she remains a genuine global superstar. She has sold about 64 million albums in the United States, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, and maintains a huge international following.

Still, forays into TV by major musicians over the years have been bumpy experiments. Whitney Houston's appearance on Being Bobby Brown did not exactly provide the sort of exposure that helps album sales or burnishes Hall of Fame reputations.

Carey stressed that she has veto power over material she does not want filmed or broadcast. And some things are strictly off limits: her four-year-old twins, for instance.

"I don't want to do anything that's exploitative," she said. "They haven't been filmed at all yet. There might be a couple of moments, but it's not about making them the stars of the show. They're too young to make that decision."

Similarly, she said that her fiance does not want to be filmed. "He's a legit businessman," she said. "It's not really his thing to be, like, traipsing all over Europe and hanging out with all my crew and dancers and singers."

The show is being produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, the same group behind Keeping Up With The Kardashians and I Am Cait. Jeff Jenkins, executive vice-president for programming and development at Bunim/Murray, said Mariah's World would be shot differently from the company's other shows.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians, for example, is shot in the spirit of a soap opera, with rapid cuts, wall-to-wall music and in-studio interviews, but Mariah's World will adhere a few degrees closer to the standards of a documentary, he said.

In 2002, Carey showed off her TriBeCa penthouse in the MTV show Cribs; since then, the episode has gained a kind of cult status. In it, Carey's occasional antics were on full display, including when she showed off a walk-in lingerie closet and dropped into a bathtub wearing little more than a towel.

A new generation of fans has written love letters to the segment: A 2014 BuzzFeed post called it "legendary", and an MTV post last year called it "transcendental".

Asked if she would welcome future seasons of Mariah's World, Carey said: "I don't know. We'll see how long I can tolerate being around cameras that much." NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2016, with the headline 'Singer Mariah Carey to star in reality series'. Print Edition | Subscribe