Mariah Carey’s husband, Nick Cannon, has spoken out in the wake of his headline-grabbing troubles and revealed that his kidney, blood clots and heart woes are actually the result of a “lupus-type” autoimmune disorder.
More and more, we are all hearing about friends, family, and even celebrities who are “victims” of autoimmune disease — especially lupus.
Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease driven by inflammation in which the immune system indiscriminately attacks “self-tissues” throughout the body. It is estimated that more than 16,000 people are diagnosed with lupus each year in the United States. Approximately 1.5 million Americans, and 5 million people worldwide, currently live with lupus.
Lupus autoimmunity can cause variable symptoms from person to person. Parts of the body frequently affected by lupus include the skin, kidneys, heart and vascular system, nervous system, connective tissues, musculoskeletal system, and other organ systems.
Your immune system is the network of cells and tissues throughout your body that work together to defend you from invasion and infection. You can think of it as having two parts: the innate and the acquired immune systems.
The more primitive innate (or inborn) immune system activates white blood cells to destroy invaders. The innate system alerts the body to danger when it senses the presence of parts that are often found in many viruses or bacteria. The acquired (or adaptive) immune system develops as a person grows. It “remembers” different invaders so that it can fight them better if they come back. When the immune system is working properly, foreign invaders (antigens) provoke the body to produce proteins called antibodies and specific types of white blood cells that help in defense. The antibodies attach to the invaders so that they can be recognized and destroyed.
Autoimmune diseases arise from an overactive immune response of the body against substances and tissues normally present in the body. In other words, the body actually attacks its own cells.
Normally the immune system’s white blood cells help protect the body from harmful substances, called antigens. Examples of antigens include bacteria, viruses, toxins, cancer cells, and blood or tissues from another person or species. The immune system produces antibodies that destroy these harmful substances.
What causes the immune system to no longer tell the difference between healthy body tissues and antigens is unknown. One theory is that some microorganisms (such as bacteria or viruses) or drugs may trigger some of these changes, especially in people who have genes that make them more likely to get autoimmune disorders.
These diseases tend to run in families. Women — particularly African-American, Hispanic-American and Native-American women — have a higher risk for some autoimmune diseases.
There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases, and some have similar symptoms. This makes it hard for your health care provider to know if you really have one of these diseases, and if so, which one. Getting diagnosed can be frustrating and stressful. In many people, the first symptoms are being tired, muscle aches and low fever.
The diseases may also have flare-ups, when they get worse, and remissions, when they all but disappear. The diseases do not usually go away, but symptoms can be treated.
An autoimmune disorder may result in:
Autoimmune diseases can affect almost any part of the body, including the heart, brain, nerves, muscles, skin, eyes, joints, lungs, kidneys, glands, the digestive tract and blood vessels.
The classic sign of an autoimmune disease is inflammation, which can cause redness, heat, pain, and swelling. How an autoimmune disease affects you depends on what part of the body is targeted. If the disease affects the joints, as in rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, you might have joint pain, stiffness and loss of function. If it affects the thyroid, as in Graves’ disease and thyroiditis, it might cause tiredness, weight gain and muscle aches. If it attacks the skin, as it does in scleroderma/systemic sclerosis, vitiligo and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), it can cause rashes, blisters, and color changes.
Diagnosing lupus can be difficult. It may take months or even years for doctors to piece together the symptoms to diagnose this complex disease accurately. Making a correct diagnosis of lupus requires knowledge and awareness on the part of the doctor and good communication on the part of the patient. Giving the doctor a complete, accurate medical history (for example, what health problems you have had and for how long) is critical to the process of diagnosis. This information, along with a physical examination and the results of laboratory tests, helps the doctor consider other diseases that may mimic lupus, or determine if you truly have the disease. Reaching a diagnosis may take time as new symptoms appear.
Most autoimmune diseases are chronic, but many can be controlled with treatment. Symptoms of autoimmune disorders can come and go. When symptoms get worse, it is called a flare-up.
If you or someone you love is living with an autoimmune disorder, it’s important to get all the facts on the condition. Though researchers don’t know exactly what causes autoimmunity, much has been learned about the risk factors involved. Known connections: Women seem to develop autoimmune diseases more often than men, and some believe that infections may play a role in autoimmunity. After an autoimmune disease diagnosis, your main priority should be getting the care you need to manage your particular disorder, and that may mean finding medical experts who specialize in your autoimmune condition.
Remember, I’m not a doctor. I just sound like one. Take good care of yourself, and live the best life possible!
The information included in this column is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.
Glenn Ellis is a Health advocacy communications specialist. He is the author of “Which Doctor?” and is a health columnist and radio commentator who lectures, and is an active media contributor nationally and internationally on health-related topics.
His second book, “Information is the Best Medicine,” was released in January. For more good health information, visit: www.glennellis.com.
NEW YORK — A hip-hop mogul who managed Sean "Diddy" Combs, 50 Cent and Mariah Carey was found dead in his New York City apartment Thursday in an apparent suicide, police said.
Chris Lighty, 44, was discovered at his home in the Bronx with a gunshot wound to the head, and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
No note was recovered, but a 9 mm handgun was found at the scene and there was no sign of forced entry, said Paul Browne, chief spokesman for the New York Police Department.
The medical examiner's office will determine a cause of death, but authorities say the shooting appears to be self-inflicted.
Lighty was behind some of rap's leading figures, helping them not only attain hit records but also lucrative careers outside of music. He had been a part of the scene for decades, working with pioneers like LL Cool J before starting his own management company, Violator. But Lighty had been having recent financial and personal troubles.
Twitter was abuzz with condolences on his death just hours after the body was found at about 11:30 a.m.
"R.I.P. Chris Lighty," Fat Joe posted on his account. "The man that saved my life!"
Diddy wrote: "In shock."
Rihanna posted: "Rest peacefully Chris Lighty, my prayers go out to family and loved ones! Dear God please have mercy."
And Mary J. Blige wrote: "U never know what can send a person over the edge or make them want 2 keep living. take it easy on people."
50 Cent said in a statement issued through his publicist that he was deeply saddened by the loss:
"Chris has been an important part of my business and personal growth for a decade. He was a good friend and advisor who helped me develop as an artist and businessman. My prayers are with his family. He will be greatly missed."
Lighty was raised by his mother in the Bronx, one of six children. He ran with a group called The Violators, the inspiration for the name of his management company, according to the company website. He was a player in the hip-hop game since he was a kid DJ. He rose through the ranks at Rush Management (Simmons' first company) before eventually founding Violator Management in the late 1990s. (Mona Scott and James Cruz are partners).
"Today, we lost a hip-hop hero and one of its greatest architects," Simmons tweeted.
Lighty's roster ranged from Academy Award-winners Three 6 Mafia to maverick Missy Elliott to up-and-comer Papoose and perpetual star Carey. He made it his mission not so much to make musical superstars, but rather multifaceted entertainers who could be marketed in an array of ways: a sneaker deal here, a soft drink partnership there, a movie role down the road.
In a 2007 interview with The Associated Press, Lighty talked about creating opportunities for his stars — a Chapstick deal for LL Cool J, known for licking his lips, a vitamin supplement deal for 50 Cent.
"As music sales go down because kids are stealing it off the Internet and trading it and iPod sales continue to rise, you can't rely on just the income that you would make off of being an artist," he said at the time.
Lighty is survived by his two children. He and his wife, Veronica, had been in the process of divorcing. The case was still listed as active, but electronic records show an agreement to end it was filed in June.
He was also having financial trouble. City National Bank sued Lighty, whose given name is Darrell, in April, saying he had overdrawn his account by $53,584 and then refused to pay the balance. The case was still pending.
He also owed more than $330,000 in state and federal taxes, according to legal filings. His tax problems were much steeper a year ago, but he cleared away millions of dollars in earlier IRS liens last October, after selling his Manhattan apartment for $5.6 million. -- (AP)
With all the star power at the BET Awards — Kanye West, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce and Samuel L. Jackson, to name a few — the most stirring moment came not from a superstar, but from the mother of one.
Whitney Houston's mother, Cissy, provided the emotional highlight of Sunday's ceremony as she sang "Bridge Over Troubled Water" in tribute to her late daughter, leaving audience members like Beyonce and Soulja Boy in tears.
Mariah Carey opened the tribute, and her voice wavered as she told stories about Houston. She recalled the last time she saw Houston last year, and how the two laughed and gossiped together.
"I miss my friend," Carey said. "I miss hearing her voice and laughter."
R&B singer Monica was vocally top-notch as she sang "I Love the Lord," a gospel song once sang by Houston; Brandy sang two upbeat Houston hits, "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and "I'm Your Baby Tonight." Chaka Khan blazed the stage with "I'm Every Woman," which Houston remade. Gary Houston, Whitney's brother, also performed; and Houston's "Waiting to Exhale" castmates — Angela Bassett, Lela Rochon and Loretta Devine — also honored the singer.
But it was Cissy Houston's soaring performance that brought the audience to their feet, and had many dabbing their eyes. The tribute came five months after Houston's death: She died the night before the Grammy Awards of an accidental drowning complicated by heart disease and cocaine use.
As compelling as that moment was, the show was also defined by its low points: Entire segments of performances, from Nicki Minaj to Rick Ross, were muted out due to foul language and obscenities, though several vulgarities were heard on air.
It started during the opening number by West's G.O.O.D. music group, which included Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz. There were long moments of censored silence when the rappers performed "Mercy," though not all the offending words were bleeped out. Moments later, Jackson, the show's host, was joined by Spike Lee as they did a comedic version of Jay-Z and West's hit song "... In Paris," to laughs.
"Two distinguished Morehouse men," Lee joked after the performance, referencing the alma mater of the two.
The censor police also worked overtime when Rick Ross performed with his Maybach Music Group and during Minaj's performance and acceptance speech for best female hip-hop artist. Minaj's win was her third consecutive time taking the prize.
"I really, really appreciate BET for keeping this category alive, and I appreciate all the female rappers doing their thing, past, present and future," she said, before uttering an obscenity.
Best gospel winner Yolanda Adams, who also performed, gently took some of her peers to task, urging them to act mature and use their fame wisely.
"We need all of y'all," she said onstage. "I'm saying the world needs everyone in this room. Please make sure that you use your gift responsibly, 'cause we're watching. Our babies are watching, and they want to be like us."
West, the most nominated act of the night with seven, and Jay-Z won the ceremony's top prize, earning video of the year for "Otis." They also won best group.
Beyonce was the second most nominated act with six. She won video director of the year (along with Alan Ferguson) and best female R&B artist and thanked the genre and her female influences.
"I fell in love with music by listening to R&B. It's the core of who I am," she said, giving special thanks to Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige and "Whitney Houston, my angel."
When she lost video of the year to Jay-Z and West, she playfully hit her husband and laughed. The joking continued: Moments later, as West was giving his acceptance speech, Jay-Z interrupted him and said: "Excuse me Kanye, I'm gonna let you continue, but ...," and the audience erupted with laughter, recalling West's infamous interruption of Taylor Swift's MTV Video Music Awards speech a few years back.
Chris Brown was also a double winner, picking up his second consecutive win for best male R&B artist, and the "Fandemonium" award for a third time.
Brown also performed in his first televised appearance since the New York City nightclub brawl between his entourage and Drake's. Brown, his girlfriend, his bodyguard and NBA star Tony Parker were among those injured in the June 14 encounter, where bottles were thrown.
Drake didn't show, though he was named best male hip-hop artist.
The tone of night fluctuated frequently, as the show shifted from hotly anticipated performances to solemn moments to irreverence. Usher performed his groove "Climax," and Minaj sported a blond wig with pink tips as she performed the songs "Champion" and "Beez in the Trap," which featured 2 Chainz.
D'Angelo returned to the television spotlight with his first performance in years as he attempts a comeback.
The night also featured some tributes to deceased greats: Chante Moore performed a medley of Donna Summer's hits and Valerie Simpson sang a song in honor of her husband and writing partner Nick Ashford. Don Cornelius, Dick Clark and Hal Jackson were remembered. Even West offered tributes: after his performance, he name-dropped Rodney King and Whitney Houston in a verse that got cheers from the crowd, including his girlfriend, Kim Kardashian.
Presenters included Taraji P. Henson, Tyler Perry, Kerry Washington and Jamie Foxx, who wore a T-shirt that had a picture of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman.
Frankie Beverly featuring Maze were honored with the lifetime achievement award, and they were serenaded with performances by Tyrese, Faith Evans and Joe. The Rev. Al Sharpton received the humanitarian award, and urged the crowd to vote this November.
"This election is not just about Obama, this is about your momma," he said.
The 2012 Essence of Entertainment series at the Dell Music Center continues Thursday with an evening of sophisticated soul featuring Tizer, beloved balladeer Will Downing, and the gospel-inspired vocals of Kelly Price.
An accomplished singer, songwriter and producer, Kelly Price, a Queens, N.Y., native who has collaborated with such high-profile artists as Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, George Michael, Mary J. Blige, Brian McKnight, R. Kelly, Wynona Judd, Gerald Levert, and most notably, the incomparable Ronald "Mr. Big" Isley, recently talked about the ups and downs of a rewarding career, as well as her last bittersweet moments with the late Whitney Houston.
Kimberly C. Roberts: You're coming here to the Dell Music Center next Thursday with Tizer and Will Downing. How long has it been since you last performed in Philly?
Kelly Price: Actually, it hasn't been that long. I was there in September of last year with Kem. It was an amazing crowd, but I always like to come to Philadelphia. Philadelphia is probably as close to home as I can get without actually being there. The crowd is pretty much the same as the at-home crowd, so it's always really comfortable performing in Philadelphia, because it feels like home.
K.C.R.: You're a very talented writer and producer, but I think you really broke through when you started working with Ronald Isley. What did you learn, and what was that experience like - working with such a legendary artist?
K.P. - Honestly, the difference in working with Ronald than all of the other artists I had worked with - I don't know if it was because he was older, if it was because he was already legendary, but when I first came out, everybody said, 'Oh! That's Kelly Price's godfather!' He was really kind of that for me, even though I didn't know him from a child. He pushed me into believing that I could do for myself what I'd done for other people, and I'd had Top Ten hits as a writer for some of the biggest name artists at the time - during the 90s. But the industry has a way of making you feel like - particularly when it comes to imaging, and that was a big deal when I first came out - if you don't look a certain way, then it doesn't matter how talented you are. We had the conversation. He told me, 'I don't care if you weighed 2,000 pounds and you were blue, if you do for yourself what you have done for other people, you will skyrocket.' It was those kinds of conversations that we had that really, really pushed me to believe that Kelly Price as an artist was possible.
K.C.R. - Are you working on any new music right now?
K.P. - I'm always working on music, and it sounds cliche', but I am always working on something. I'm always writing something. This probably sounds weird. I was in bible study with my ipad last night, and a song came to me, so I'm trying not to look like I'm on my ipad Googling while the pastor is teaching the class, but I was writing a song! I'm always writing! I'm in and out of the studio, and developing ideas and concepts. The last thing that I had that came out just strictly on the writing tip is a song that I have on Bonnie Raitt's new project, but then the next collaboration that I have as an artist coming out is with Fantasia and Faith Evans, on the "R&B Divas" soundtrack to the television show. So that will be out in October.
K.C.R. - We all saw that bittersweet moment when you and Whitney were singing onstage that night, which turned out to be her very last appearance. What was that moment like for you?
K.P. - In the moment, elated, excited, happy to have her there with me. The whole talk leading up to that night was, 'I'm going to be there! I want to be there for you!' And even earlier that night, before I came to the stage to start the party and begin the show, she just looked me and told me, 'I'm so proud of you and I love you so much!' I wasn't expecting her to take the stage with me. I wouldn't have even asked her to. It just meant a lot that she would show up, because she didn't do a lot of that anyway. If she went, it was because she really either needed to be there because it was work, or she wanted to be there because she cared, and she wanted the person to know that she was there and supported them. That wasn't work for her that night. She came because she wanted to support a friend. I wasn't singing. I was talking and thanking her for being there, and thanking her for being a friend, and always being very honest with me, and caring about me as a person. That was the basis of our relationship. She cared about me, the person, outside of the industry, and she decided that she wanted to come to the stage and sing a little bit. In retrospect and in hindsight, I look at it, and for me, it was a gift. I feel like I had the opportunity to share that moment with her, and could have never known that it would have been her last moment. None of us would have known. But I feel like God gave me a great, great gift, and that I was able to share that. And then, how more appropriate than to share that moment, and sing about God's love? I was very, very grateful.
The Dell is at 33rd Street and Ridge Avenue. For tickets and information, call the box office at (215) 685-9560 or visit www.mydelleast.com.
LOS ANGELES — "American Idol" is facing a $36 million-plus question: Will that combined paycheck lavished on superstar judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban pay off in ratings?
The newcomers have their work cut out for them whether they earn it with colorful feuding — ladies, you know who we're talking about — or by discovering a singer who can charm America.
The talent show, a TV groundbreaker when it debuted in 2002 despite a starless panel with Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul, needs every edge as its audience erodes and other contests emerge as challengers.
"I think it's actually a renewal (of 'Idol') every couple of years, and what you're seeing now is this panel has reinvigorated the show," said Mike Darnell, Fox president of alternative entertainment.
NBC's "The Voice," one of the newcomers, enjoyed immediate success with brand-name panelists Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green and Adam Levine. But famous faces don't guarantee a return, as Cowell's "The X Factor" most recently proved.
Britney Spears, whose lackluster performance failed to capitalize on buzz about her intriguing foray into live TV, split from the show last week. It was a $15 million lesson for all interested parties.
But "American Idol," returning Wednesday (8 p.m. EST) with host Ryan Seacrest, has to make noise as it hits relative old age for a TV series, with its ratings still hefty but on a steady downward spiral.
Last season, "Idol" lost its status as the most-watched TV program for the first time since 2003, eclipsed by NBC's "Sunday Night Football," and pegged its lowest-rated season since it debuted in summer 2002.
An open-wallet approach worked for "Idol" before, with Jennifer Lopez validating her $12 million paycheck by helping (with Steven Tyler) to boost the show's ratings in 2011. That allowed Ellen DeGeneres' short-lived and genially unimpressive judging stint that ended in 2010 to fade into memory.
The result: Carey is raking in close to $18 million, Minaj is getting $12 million and Urban's take is a reported $6 million for the season.
Add in mainstay Jackson's share (in the reported single-digit millions) and that's a platinum-plated group. But it's potentially money well spent for a show that, en route to living up to its title of finding new pop stars, has to keep viewers firmly engaged.
Finding a breakout star like Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood or Jennifer Hudson is one way to do it, but the odds are long. So it's up to the professionals to step in.
"It's more of an entertainment show than anything else, and if judges can supply the entertainment that's an ingredient for success," said analyst Brad Adgate of Horizon Media. "With 'X Factor' that didn't happen and the show didn't get into the fabric of pop culture."
Carey and Minaj already are demonstrating their potential. Their feud, whether real or fabricated, has produced such head-shaking, headline-making moments as Carey alleging that Minaj threatened to shoot her after a taping. The rapper responded with dismissive tweets.
At a news conference, Minaj tried to downplay the squabble.
"We're professionals. Have you ever had an argument with someone you've worked with?" she said after repeated questions about her working relationship with Carey.
"This was sort of one-sided," interjected Carey.
"No, it wasn't," snapped back Minaj.
Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said the judges won't disappoint, including Urban, whom he calls a sweetheart who "sticks up for himself." The singer is expected to reinforce the show's country fan base that has boosted the fortunes of contestants including Southern crooner Scotty McCreey.
Jackson is proving tougher on contestants than in the past, Lythgoe said.
Then there are the divas.
"Nicki can get into it with anybody. She's one of the best judges ever. ... She finds an angle and drives it home," Lythgoe said. As for Carey, she's a "true legand" who is the first "to put her arms out if someone's not going through or she's happy with someone."
In an interview, Minaj described giving the show her all.
"I didn't expect to cry on 'American Idol.' I always said, 'Why do they (judges) cry on those shows? That's so stupid. Get a life.' But now I take that back," Minaj said. "When you're looking into someone's eyes and they gave their all and you know their journey ends here, it's a tough pill to swallow.
"Then you have to join the machine again and keep on judging," she added.
Fox executive Darnell expressed optimism that "Idol," an especially critical part of the network's schedule after a rough start to the season for Fox, remains TV royalty.
He conceded the talent show marketplace is overcrowded and "they're all taking each other down a little bit," each losing up to 20 percent in viewers.
But "American Idol" remains "the king of the shows. This is the one and the only one that makes stars, period," Darnell said. "And I think people will keep coming back to it for that reason." -- (AP)
Eric Benet, the Grammy-nominated R&B aritst who will forever be associated with “Glitter,” the unfortunate feature film starring Mariah Carey, has an opportunity to redeem himself in “Trinity Goodheart,” the GMC original feature film to be released on DVD on March 27.
“Trinity Goodheart” made its world premiere to “enthusiastic response” on GMC Tlelvision last summer, and has received five out of five DOVES from the Dove Foundation.
In his first leading role, Benet plays Jeremy Goodheart, the single father of a beautiful and precocious bi-racial child named Trinity (Erica Gluck). For most of her life, Trinity knew nothing of her family, but now, at 12 years old, she is curious about them. One day, Jeremy a liberal, lenient father who allows his daughter to call him by his first name, explains that her mother, Kimberly, was white, and that her parents were enraged that she had taken up with a Black man. When the tension and stress became unbearable, Kimberly left home to pursue her career, but was killed in an auto accident.
Although she is basically a good kid, Trinity has taken to skipping school, and one day, Jeremy is called into the principal’s office. Surprisingly, he defends his daughter’s actions, citing the fact that she is still a straight-“A” student. Deciding that he doesn’t want Trinity to be a “clone” of the other kids at her school, Jeremy says that he will home-school her.
The young girl has a fascination with angels, and fashions them out of paper to give away and make people happy. One day while she is sleeping, she envisions an angel who tells her not to be afraid. Upon her waking, Trinity tells her father that her mother sent the angel because she is in trouble, and the child sets out on a journey to reunite and heal her disjointed family.
“Trinity Goodheart” is a charming film, and the engaging Erica Gluck gives a captivating portrayal of a little girl who is persistent and inquisitive without being a brat. Benet is quite believable as her father, and the two of them share a warm chemistry. I found that he showed emotion at the right moments without appearing melodramatic, and actually seemed quite comfortable in the role.
Written by Rhonda Baraka and directed by Joanne Hock, “Trinity Goodheart” is a heartwarming family film that should spell redemption for Eric Benet.
LOS ANGELES — She's been a sensation since she's been born, and now Blue Ivy has made her public debut.
Five photos of the 1-month-old were posted by her parents — Beyonce and Jay-Z — on a page at the blogging service Tumblr.
The pictures at http://helloblueivycarter.tumblr.com include a close-up of the baby and two of each parent holding her. Blue Ivy is their first child.
A statement next to the photos reads, "We welcome you to share our joy." The couple also thanked the public for respecting their privacy.
Beyonce and Jay-Z are the latest celebrities to shun big bucks from the tabloid press for exclusive rights to baby pictures and instead post the photos on a public website for free. Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon debuted their twins in the same way last year. -- (AP)
NEW YORK — Nick Cannon is spending the first week of the new year in the hospital, with wife Mariah Carey by his side.
Carey tweeted that Cannon is suffering from "mild kidney failure." His representative confirmed Cannon's hospitalization. He is in Aspen, Colorado, where he and Carey were vacationing.
Carey posted a picture on her website of a miserable-looking Cannon in a hospital bed as she lay beside him. She asked for prayers and said Cannon's situation was "very painful." She later called it a "serious moment that's very tough on all of us."
The pair became the parents of twins — a boy and a girl — last year.
Cannon is 31. His representative had no further information Wednesday about his condition but said he is still hospitalized. -- (AP)
NEW YORK — Stylist June Ambrose helped remake the image of Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey as they were preparing major comebacks, but there's one icon she didn't get to remake — Whitney Houston.
Working with Houston wasn't a pipe dream for Ambrose. With the singer readying a return to the spotlight with the upcoming movie, "Sparkle," and new music, it was a real possibility. But she died Feb. 11 on the eve of the Grammys at 48 of an accidental drowning, with heart disease and cocaine use as contributing factors.
"There were talks about it," Ambrose said in an interview Monday. "I really wanted to do Whitney Houston's comeback. ... I just felt like Whitney and I ... would have been great together."
Ambrose has already proven she's great with other A-listers: Her client list includes Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jay-Z, Missy Elliott and Zoe Saldana, and she also was a stylist for "The X-Factor."
"Jay-Z's been a longtime client and a friend. What I love about Jay is that he has such a natural swagger and charisma, and he's just as passionate about his music as I am my art, and we have such a mutual respect for what one another does," Ambrose said. "Mary J. Blige, love working with her. ... Alicia Keys, too, especially when she was pregnant. It was such a pure, personal time."
On her new VH1 show, "Styled by June," the Antigua native helps struggling celebrities look their best, including actress and one-time fashionista Mischa Barton, female rappers Trina and Da Brat, and reality TV star and singer Aubrey O'Day. The show airs on Mondays (9:30 p.m. EDT).
The Associated Press: Who else would you like to style?
Ambrose: I like broken starlets. I love to fix things. ... I would love to get like a Courtney Love. Lindsay Lohan I'd be brilliant with.
AP: What's it like getting celebrities to trust you when taking them out of their comfort zone?
Ambrose: Celebrities naturally are quite defensive by nature. They have to protect themselves, they're constantly being photographed and judged, and social media controls so much of how they feel about themselves. You know, they're reading the blogs, the tabloids, and it starts to kind of eat away at their spirit and their confidence. ... I have to strip them down and build them back up, and the reason why I have to strip them down is I need them to see themselves, not the person they want to be, but the person that they are. Face that person, accept that person and then we deal with the alter ego.
AP: When were you bitten by the fashion bug?
Ambrose: I was smitten and bitten by fashion from inception. When I came out of my mother's womb I was like, 'Where are my designer diapers?' I used to cut up my grandmother's curtains and designer dresses for my Barbie dolls. In preschool, I was like, 'I want to put on a fashion show,' and I got all the parents together and I produced a fashion show. I was like 7 years old, like in kindergarten doing fashion shows.
AP: What is the most common mistake people make when putting together an outfit?
Ambrose: Fit is a factor. When you think about the '20s and the '40s (and) how structured fashion was: That's why I say it's the return of the lady and the dandy because people are starting to pay a lot more attention to fit. When a guy invests in a sports jacket, have it tailored if it's not something that was couture to your body. ... Women, wear your foundation undergarments, even if you're skinny. Having the right foundation pieces, it helps you with your core, it helps you with that juxtaposition. It's like wearing a petticoat. ... And people also feel like they need to overaccessorize. You have to balance your bold. ... Head-to-toe leopard isn't necessary unless it's a Halloween soiree you're going to.
AP: What trends will we see this spring and fall?
Ambrose: Both seasons are filled with color, they're exciting, but what's wonderful about it is there's a lot of classic pieces. I think consumers are really looking for classic fashion that has punctuation, so there's a lot of play on texture, but the color is really what's exciting. It's very reminiscent of the '70s; you feel the Bianca Jagger, you feel the Diana Ross. For the fall, they're more rich jewel tones; for the spring, a lot of sorbets.
AP: You mentioned color, but the all-black ensemble will never fail, right?
Ambrose: An all-black ensemble will never steer you wrong, even though blue is the new black. I feel like the kimono is the new cardigan. ... A black number will never steer you wrong. That depth will always keep you svelte.
AP: I've noticed more men wearing brown shoes. Is brown the new black?
Ambrose: You're seeing a lot of the oxford, cognac brown shoes — it's the new neutral for men. And another thing they're doing is the sockless man; very retro. Ankle is the new sexy; ankle cleavage. -- (AP)
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Mariah Carey will join "American Idol" as a judge next season, Fox announced Monday, bringing her star power to the show that remains a ratings leader but has seen its viewership and pop culture status diminish.
"I am so excited to be joining 'Idol,'" said Carey, addressing the Television Critics Association via Fox entertainment chief Kevin Reilly's cellphone, which he put on speakerphone for the hotel ballroom meeting.
She couldn't be on hand with the group because "this kind of all just happened really quickly," Carey said in her brief remarks. "I can't wait to get started in the fall ... and I will see you in January."
The show, which saw judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez exit at the end of last season, will be back on the air for season 12 in January.
Reilly called Carey "the biggest recording artist that any of these (talent) shows has ever had," adding that she was the "artist that many of these contestants have tried to emulate, have tried some of the songs, have tried to hit the notes."
Playing the drama up, Reilly placed a call to Carey and put her on speaker.
"Hi, Mariah. How are you? It's Kevin," he said. "We do have a deal, don't we? Yes!"
Reilly said he was "thrilled" to confirm reports that Carey was being courted by Fox and said the deal was freshly signed within the last few hours. The Grammy-winning pop star is receiving just shy of $18 million a year for a one-year contract with a renewal option, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The person, lacking authority to discuss the matter publicly, spoke on condition of anonymity.
The exit of Tyler and Lopez left original judge Randy Jackson and started a guessing game about potential replacements, with Carey at the top of the list.
As one of music's best-selling singers, she could provide the clout "American Idol" needs to compete in an increasingly crowded talent show field. Besides Fox sibling "The X Factor," which recently added Britney Spears and Demi Lovato as judges, there's NBC's "The Voice," which boasts Christina Aguilera among its big names.
"Not being the only game in town now, we need to keep things fresh," Reilly said. The search is on for a third judge, and he promised another impressive pick. It could a star or someone like music executive and "Idol" mentor Jimmy Iovine, who wasn't a household name when he joined, Reilly said. But, he added, after 12 seasons "we need to have something to talk about."
"We have the biggest names in the business, like Mariah Carey, interested in doing this ... so for the next couple of weeks it will be a matter of picking the right one, with the right chemistry, making the deal, and finalizing this," he said.
Jackson's value to the show was enhanced by Carey's signing, although Fox has yet to say whether he'll judge next season. Ryan Seacrest will be back as host.
"I can't confirm and don't want to talk about anyone" else on the show, Reilly said. But he added that Jackson "has been working with Mariah and is in fact her co-manager, and Randy was very instrumental in doing this deal."
Simon Cowell, the former "American Idol" judge who adapted his U.K. hit "X Factor" for Fox, was asked about Carey's new gig at a critics' session later Monday.
"I'm happy for her, actually. I like Mariah. I think she's going to find it difficult to say no. You've got to say no to people and she's sweet," he said, then quickly backtracked, adding, "No, I think she'll be great."
Cowell had reason to be diplomatic: Carey's husband, Nick Cannon, is host of Cowell's "America's Got Talent" on NBC.
"American Idol" ended the 2011-12 season as the leading entertainment show and No. 2 overall, just behind NBC's top-rated "Sunday Night Football."
But the show aired its least-watched finale ever this season and the advertiser-favored young adult audience has been steadily shrinking. The show's cachet hasn't been helped by a run of champions who have failed to achieve the career sizzle of past competitors Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson.
Earlier Monday, veteran "Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said there's a slender possibility that Lopez might return. His reasoning: Since she told Seacrest she was 99 percent sure she was leaving, that means there's a 1 percent chance she won't, Lythgoe said.
He said he hoped that was the case, although Lythgoe also told the critics' annual summer meeting that he thought the show should be freshened each season with new judges.
But Lopez's representative confirmed again Monday that she's leaving "American Idol." She originally made the announcement July 13, a day after Tyler said he was leaving.
Reilly also disputed Lythgoe's comment, saying, "it's 100 percent that Jennifer won't be back to the show."
"We came to a mutual decision with Jennifer and Steven," he said, calling it a "great experience with both of them. Creatively, we were all happy."
But it was decided "it was the time for a change," Reilly said.
Lythgoe said his own contract is under negotiation, declining to comment further. Reilly later called Lythgoe "the best producer in the business." -- (AP)