To outsiders, Ellen DeGeneres pouring a glass of champagne for her guest Mariah Carey to enjoy on-air probably seemed innocent enough. But the moment – and the questions that came with it – made the singer feel uncomfortable on the talk show host’s eponymous show. And Carey would go on to speak out about the infamous moment 12 years later when the clip re-circulated on the internet.
The clip from the 2008 interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show made the internet rounds once again because of news surrounding the beloved talk show host. To wit, a group of her former employees had spoken to BuzzFeed News in July 2020 – claiming that the jovial environment you see on TV isn’t what the talk show’s employees experience.
Ellen has built a strong reputation as a good person – and someone who helps others – through her eponymous talk show. After all, she gives away money and gifts and performs other staggering charitable acts, too. But one of her former staffers told Buzzfeed in July 2020 that the kindness “only happens when the cameras are on. It’s all for show.”
The supposed employees who spoke to the news outlet included ten people who had left their posts and one then-current employee. Together, they alleged working in a toxic environment where they dealt with fear, racism and intimidation from their managers. Ellen wasn’t the one behind the alleged acts, but the staff felt she should “take more responsibility” for the environment of her own show.
As the story spread, people started to highlight awkward moments that transpired on-air. In one interview, Ellen pressed Justin Bieber to share details of his love life even after he asked her, “Why are you putting me on the spot like this?” In another, she seemingly offended singer Celine Dion by implying that she needed to cut her son’s hair.
Then, there was a 2008 interview with Mariah Carey. At that time, the songstress had recently married Nick Cannon, and the pair had been dealing with pregnancy rumors throughout their whirlwind romance. So, Ellen had apparently come up with an idea to get the truth.
The now-infamous clip shows Ellen trying to get Carey to drink champagne – thus proving she is or isn’t pregnant. But while web users certainly had their feelings about the awkward segment, it was Carey who suffered the most from the inquisition. And in 2020 she finally clarified why it had bothered her so much.
Life changed for Mariah Carey in 2008, and in more ways than one. In April of that year she released her eleventh studio album called E=MC². With its release came the singer’s 18th number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 list: “Touch My Body.” And that tally meant she surpassed Elvis Presley and stood second to only the Beatles for having the most number-one songs ever.
Carey’s personal life hit a high note right around the same time, too. She had met actor and singer Nick Cannon at the 2005 Teen Choice Awards. It took three years after their first encounter for the pair to start dating, but when they did, their relationship was a somewhat whirlwind romance.
Before the public even knew about Carey and Cannon’s courtship, the two were taking some pretty serious steps together. For one thing, the “Touch My Body” songstress told People in May 2008, “We got tattoos!” Apparently, he got her name on his shoulder, while Carey got something a bit more telling about the future of their relationship.
Carey described her ink, saying, “It’s on my lower back and it says ‘Mrs. Cannon.’” By then, the pair must have known what would come next, although they had yet to tie the knot. Soon after, the ink dried on their marriage license, and they held a surprise wedding in the Bahamas.
The nuptials in April 2008 were a surprise to everyone – down to the person who designed Carey’s dress. Nile Cmylo told Access Hollywood that year that he thought he had made a gown for a music video shoot until the day of the wedding. He said, “… I went back to the fabric store in the morning and started over again and came back with something a little more appropriate.”
Carey’s slip dress went perfectly with her breezy, sunset Bahama wedding. She described the big day to People in 2008, saying, “We got married at sunset on the beach. We were trying to get the really golden light. The whole wedding was really beautiful and sweet. Being there with loved ones under the sky… it was a spiritual moment.”
In the same interview, the newlyweds couldn’t say enough good things about one another. Cannon gushed, “She is beautiful on the outside and ten times as beautiful on the inside. She is such a giving, nurturing spirit. Someone who has spent their entire life making others happy.”
For her part, Carey said she felt as though she and Cannon were soulmates. The singer then added, “I never felt a love like this was in the cards for me. I was always so career-oriented. I would hope and pray for my friends to find love, but I never did that for myself. And then? Everything just fell into place!”
With such a strong bond between them, it made sense that the interviewer asked Cannon and Carey about their plans to start a family. And, naturally, both of them said that they had thought about having kids. The “We Belong Together” singer said, “It’s part of the whole purpose of getting married. I’d just want our children to have the best childhood and upbringing they possibly could.”
Perhaps the couple’s openness in their desire to start a family is what caused the press to hone in on Carey and Cannon’s moves immediately after their nuptials. On a November 2008 trip to Mexico, for example, paparazzi pictures captured the songstress with her hands suspiciously over her belly – sparking pregnancy rumors.
That same month, Carey appeared on an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and the eponymous host made it her mission to reveal if the singer was hiding a pregnancy. Ellen came up with an interesting way to get Carey to spill, too; she offered her a glass of champagne.
In the clip, Ellen pours a glass of champagne, passes it to Carey and says, “Let’s toast to you not being pregnant if you’re not pregnant.” The singer laughs and responds, “Why would we toast to that? How about to the future, for both of our futures? Who knows what they hold?”
Carey holds onto her champagne glass and says, “It’s too early for me. I only drink after 3:00 p.m.” But the “Hero” singer then raises her flute and takes a very small sip of the bubbly, and this leads the talk show host to exclaim, “You’re pregnant!”
At the time, Carey and viewers of The Ellen DeGeneres Show seemed to laugh off the prank that the host pulled. But in 2020 rumors swirled about life behind the scenes of the comedian’s eponymous talk show. As we alluded to earlier, apparent former employees alleged through BuzzFeed News that their one-time workplace had a culture of “racism, fear and intimidation.”
As these stories came out, social media users started to dredge up other examples of Ellen’s alleged bad behavior. One such clip that started to circulate Twitter – and ruffle major feathers – was Carey’s 2008 interview in which the talk show host tried to force her to say she was pregnant.
With attention back on the clip – and the public in her corner after re-watching Ellen’s antics – Carey later opened up about her experience on the show. She told Vulture in August 2020, “I was extremely uncomfortable with that moment is all I can say. And I really have had a hard time grappling with the aftermath.”
Carey struggled with the forced reveal because she had already been pregnant before and lost her baby. So, when Ellen pressed, the singer didn’t want to tell the truth – she was, indeed, with child. She later said, “I wasn’t ready to tell anyone because [I’d] had a miscarriage.”
In the midst of the already swirling Ellen backlash, Carey did say, “I don’t want to throw anyone that’s already being thrown under any proverbial bus.” However, the singer admitted that it wasn’t a comfortable experience for her on the show, either. She said, “… I didn’t enjoy that moment.”
Carey had some advice for others who might try to approach such a sensitive subject in a public way. She said there is “an empathy that can be applied to those moments that I would have liked to have been implemented. But what am I supposed to do? It’s like, What are you going to do?”
After the interview, pregnancy rumors continued to plague Carey and Cannon’s relationship. In February 2009, for example, photographers snapped the pair leaving a reproductive clinic in Beverly Hills. And later that year, the singer went on a shopping spree at a baby store – reportedly racking up a $200,000 bill.
But Carey and Cannon weren’t expecting a baby during that time, either. It would take until 2011 for the couple to achieve the dream they had at the very start of their relationship. That year, they welcomed their boy-and-girl twins: Moroccan and Monroe.
Since then, Carey has opened up about what motherhood has meant to her, and she’s done so in a much more natural way than she did on Ellen. In 2015, for example, she appeared on The Steve Harvey Show to talk about how life changed after welcoming twins.
Carey explained, “It used to be just about me. It used to be like, ‘I’ve got to get my sleep, I’ve got to get my rest, I have to sing, and do this and do that.’ Now, it’s really like, ‘What are they doing? Are they asleep yet? What time are they getting up?’ The activities for the next day. So, it’s been a journey for me…”
By that time, Carey had split from Cannon, but the singer highlighted how the one-time couple had made their children a priority. She explained, “I had a party in Los Angeles for Halloween. [Cannon] came and we went trick-or-treating with the kids together. I thought that was important that they see their parents together.”
The songstress has since admitted that it’s difficult – but doable – to give Moroccan and Monroe a relatively normal life with her A-list status. She told People in August 2019, “It’s hard, but I try to keep them grounded so they don’t think everything is just handed to them.”
Carey said it was an especially hard task for her because she grew up with so little. She said, “Right now it’s like, ‘I want this,’ and I’m like, ‘You’re asking me for something that costs $20.’ I can’t even imagine having, like, one dollar as a kid because we didn’t have money going around. So, they have to appreciate those things.”
And Moroccan and Monroe – nicknamed Roc and Roe – make it clear that they do, indeed, appreciate their mom. Her 2020 Vulture interview revealed that the twins were there to celebrate with her as she released a new single called “Save the Day.” As the music played, the twins turned cartwheels and danced to their mom’s song.
The Vulture profile then described Carey’s reaction to her twins’ performance at the end of the performance. The diva “[ran over] to them, arms wide open, tears in her eyes, cooing over how lovely everything is.” She then said goodnight to Roc and Roe – sending them to bed and finishing the rest of her conversation with the journalist.
But the Vulture interview was meant to cover more than just Carey’s turn at motherhood or her awkward appearance on Ellen in 2008. The singer had shown up to talk about the impending release of her memoir The Meaning of Mariah Carey, which is set to hit shelves on September 29, 2020.
The singer did say that she and Cannon continued to “keep it good” for the sake of their kids, but she wouldn’t go into much detail during the interview. Instead, she directed fans to her new book. Carey had, indeed, written a chapter entitled “Dem Babies,” in which she supposedly praises her ex.
Cannon has since offered some warm words about his ex-wife, too. He denied rumors that he and Carey had split because of the fact that she was the bigger star. Instead, Cannon told Variety in June 2020, “I always used to say it worked so well because it was a healthy balance. I had no problem falling back. It was never a competition with me.”
Apparently, it was easy for Cannon to tamp back any jealousy that he might’ve felt. The host said, “I mean, it’s Mariah Carey. How am I supposed to be? She’s one of the most talented women to ever [be on] this planet. I can’t hold a candle to that woman.”
Meanwhile, Carey will once again make her talents known with an October 2020 album release. The Rarities will include 15 tracks: including unreleased songs, B-sides and live recordings of some of her most famous tunes. A new single – the one to which her children danced during her Vulture interview – will also feature on the album.