Mariah Carey made the paparazzi look foolish today at the Cannes Film Festival. At first, it looked like a scene straight out of La Dolce Vita. Mariah Carey pops out of the Hotel Carlton and crosses the street to attend the press conference for the acclaimed indie film Precious, which has just debuted here to more strong reviews after dominating Sundance. Like a true diva, Carey appeared at 2:15 p.m, a good 45 minutes after the press conference was supposed to start. Cameramen and photographers stood around in the drizzling rain, climbing on street signs or benches to get a better angle for the big moment. Then a clamor erupted from the Hotel Carlton. "Mariah! "Mariah!" A scrum of photographers surrounded her as she walked just a few yards across the street and towards the beach dining area. Women were crushed momentarily against the barricades as Carey got closer and closer, with the guards trying to let Carey in and keep the photographers out. Barely acknowledging them, she slipped past everyone and scurried down the stairs and out of sight. The only problem? That's not Mariah Carey.
In fact, it was a body double. While the photographers stood in the wet rain from about 1 until 2:15 p.m., the real Mariah Carey popped up at the press conference by some secret tunnel, professional and polite and right on the dot at 1:30 p.m. She smiled and answered every question along with her costars and director Lee Daniels. (She also stars in the Daniels film Tennessee, which opens in the US on June 5.) Precious, based on the acclaimed novel by Sapphire, opens November 6 via Lionsgate.
Carey has a small but important role as a social worker and she appears in a scene with comedian and actress Mo'Nique that has a chance of garnering that actress an Oscar nomination come next January. With the prominent support of Oprah Winfrey AND Tyler Perry, it's also likely to make a fool of the New York Times for saying the inspirational but gritty tale was good but almost impossible to market to a wide audience.
Carey is also working on a new album. After the press conference, she really did pose for the photographers on their way out. Or did she? You can never be certain.
Follow Michael Giltz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/michaelgiltz