Nearly 10 months after Mariah Carey’s disastrous New Year’s Eve performance that spurred a bitter he-said-she-said between the diva’s camp and Dick Clark Productions, longtime Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve host Ryan Seacrest remains firm that the crew wasn’t to blame.
During an appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen Thursday, the 42-year-old Live with Kelly and Ryan host was asked by a caller what was going through his head during Mimi’s NYE nightmare.
Lest one forgets, Carey covered the classic “Auld Lang Syne” before launching into an awkward medley of her hits including “Emotions” and “We Belong Together.” But seconds into her 1991 hit, it became clear Carey could not hear the backup vocals heard on the live broadcast. So instead, she removed her earpiece and walked around the stage — not singing and moving through the motions of the choreographed number.
“We didn’t have a [sound] check for this song, so we’ll just say it went to No. 1 and that’s what it is, okay?” she told the audience. “Happy New Year! We can’t hear, but I’ll just get through the moment.”
“I’m trying to be a good sport here,” she said, ending the number on a sarcastic note: “That was… amazing.”
After the mishap, a rep for Carey cited technical difficulties, telling the Associated Press, “Unfortunately there was nothing she could do to continue with the performance given the circumstances.” Hours later, Carey appeared to “Shake It Off,” tweeting: “S— happens … Here’s to making more headlines in 2017.”
The production company fired back, writing in a statement to PEOPLE: “To suggest that [Dick Clark Productions] … 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.”
Seacrest was onstage to welcome Carey but said he didn’t have a visual of what happened after his introduction because he was heading several blocks away to another stage to continue his hosting duties.
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“When it was happening, it was hard for me to see and hear because we’re in Times Square and there was a lot going on,” he told WWHL. “I had to be told that something was going on and then try to find a monitor to react to. So I wasn’t quite sure what was happening, actually.”
Still, he disputed Carey’s claims that the crew set her up to fail.
“That crew, that team, that staff is the best in the business,” Seacrest said. “They put on the biggest live music events and they know what they’re doing. I know how good they are at their jobs. My reaction was, ‘She was working with the best.’ I find it hard to believe they made big mistakes that bad.”
“It is difficult to perform in Times Square. I mean, she had done it before because she was the first musical guest that we had had live when I started doing the show a decade ago. So she had seen it; she knows what Times Square is about. It’s complicated,” Seacrest said. “I don’t know what you realize on TV or you see, but imagine: Every single TV outlet in the world is there. There’s all kinds of technical things going on.”
“This is a team that wants to do everything they can to accommodate any artists. They, and we, are in the business of wanting people to look good! And believe me: Tricky things, tough things can happen, on live television,” he added. “You’ve seen artists before, in a concert, pull out their earpieces because something happened. So something could have happened in the ears; I wasn’t in those ears.”
Said Seacrest: “It’s live television, and things happen on live TV — if something goes wrong, it’s unfortunate for anybody.”