Mariah Carey | Finding Nemo | Roone Arledge, Barbara Walters | Bonnie Fuller

Mariah Manages Tough Decision From Afar

Mariah Carey did not attend the funeral of Conor McNally, her longtime manager's son, yesterday.

It was not an easy decision. Conor, 21, was discovered dead on Wednesday morning just hours before Carey was boarding a flight for South Korea.

McNally -- whose mom Louise has been the loyal captain of Mariah's career for several years -- overdosed according to police while partying with his friends at his parents' New Jersey home.

The revelation of Conor's death only started to circulate around 11 a.m. on Wednesday, roughly an hour before Mariah was due to host the UJA Federation luncheon for the music business at the Pierre Hotel. Carey arrived a little late -- which is not exactly breaking news. But when she began reading from the TelePrompTer, she stopped and said to those seated in the room: "I'm sorry, I'm having trouble with the prompter. Believe me, I've had a bad morning."

Carey gave no clue, though, of the tragic news she'd received on her way over to the Pierre. After the luncheon, there was discussion between Mariah and her MonarC Records partner Jerry Blair about whether she should stay to comfort McNally or fly to Korea and then return for the funeral.

Unfortunately, Seoul is not a bus stop away from New York. It's about a 15-hour flight, which would have made a quick return impossible.

"Instead of coming back Mariah taped a message for the funeral," says my source. "She also performed a tribute to Conor at the first show, singing 'Through the Rain.' She's been on the phone with Louise constantly."

Ironically, the McNallys live not far from Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown in New Jersey horse country.

As for Carey's first show, observers in Seoul tell me it was a hit. "Mariah literally had to send the people home," one said. "They wanted encore after encore."

Carey returns to the U.S. on July 26, when presumably she will be able to try and console McNally. In the meantime, this column sends its own condolences to Louise and her family.

Nemo Finds Pixar's Biggest Success Ever

Yeah, The Hulk had a big weekend at the box office -- $63 million. But the real story continues to be the runaway success of Finding Nemo.

This is a good news, bad news story.

The good news is that Nemo, made by Steve Jobs' Pixar Animation, has almost reached the $230 million mark domestically. It's now officially bigger than all the previous Pixar hits like Toy Story, Toy Story 2 and Monsters Inc. Pretty impressive, huh?

The bad news: Is that Pixar's deal with distributor Disney is up, and no new deal has been set yet. Disney has to be thrilled to have such a blockbuster, but they could be hoisted by their own petard, as people used to say. After all, Pixar is not its own studio. All it lacks is in-house distribution. In a sense, what do they need Disney for, you might wonder?

Disney, on the other hand, becomes more desperate with each passing weekend of Nemo box-office take. Pixar is increasingly getting leverage over the Mouse House, so that soon even if they renew their deal, Pixar is certain to be getting a higher percentage of the profits than they get now.

Meantime, as for the Hulk box office: It is duly noted that the numbers declined each day over this weekend -- $23 million, $21 million, then $17 million. This could suggest two things: That word of mouth was not earth-shaking, and that the people who wanted to see it, did right away.

Barbara and Roone's High Noon

I have not read the late Roone Arledge's posthumously issued memoir yet. But in yesterday's New York Times Book Review, the reviewer cites Arledge's memory of negotiating a contract at ABC.

Bill Carter writes: "One contract for Barbara Walters includes two secretaries, a research assistant, a makeup consultant, a wardrobe mistress and a hair stylist -- and that is only the beginning of the star's demands he must put up with. He likens dealing with Walters to negotiating the Treaty of Ghent." (That was the very wrangled over document that ended the War of 1812 two years after it began.)

I had to laugh when I read this because I was present in June 1991 when Walters was raking Arledge over the coals as they negotiated a new deal. It was not pleasant to know what Arledge, a most respected man, was going through. Actually, no part of the experience was pleasant, and the whole thing -- an interview I was conducting for Vogue -- ended rather badly.

More tomorrow from Arledge's book.

Bonnie Fuller in Pine Valley

No, your TV set was not sending weird signals last week.

I got a lot of calls from viewers who noticed a familiar face on ABC's soap All My Children. It was the indefatigable Bonnie Fuller, editor in chief of US Weekly, actually acting in scenes and reciting lines. I'm told Bonnie, who has turned US from a supermarket throwaway into a neo-tabloid must read, nailed the part. She played herself.

Brava! What's next? Graydon Carter on Passions? David Remnick on As the World Turns? Anna Wintour on One Life to Live?