Mariah Carey's Next Movie Headed For Pay Cable

Singer plays waitress in Mafia-friendly restaurant in 'Wisegirls.'

Mariah Carey's next film is about to make its debut, but don't go looking for it in theaters — "Wisegirls" will debut on Cinemax.

Part crime drama, part chick flick, "Wisegirls" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January to rave reviews, in contrast to the widely panned "Glitter." Carey, Oscar winner Mira Sorvino and Melora Walters portray three young waitresses who work in an Italian "family-run" restaurant, whose clientele includes more Mafia members than a "Godfather" movie. Carey's character, Rachel, considers herself more of a hardened vet at dealing with the wise guys and takes under her wing the new and somewhat naive Meg, played by Sorvino.

"When I read the script, I didn't realize what this character was going to do for me," Carey said. "I actually liked the other two characters better. It was going to be really challenging to play this type of character. But I thought she was really funny. Rachel is really the type that takes control during a situation that's frightening. Rachel's kind of the only one of these three characters who grew up with these guys, and so the reason she can be so free and so daring in ways is that to them, she's one of them."

"You know, she's frigging Rachel," Carey added, slipping into a Staten Island accent. "She talks like this. She's yippety-yappety all over the place. She kind of loves to take control, whateva."

One of the scenes Carey enjoyed most included her character getting an ovation for her handling a drunken customer. "A character we have named Johnny the Lush, who gets a little affectionate when he drinks, has kind of grabbed me in a place I didn't want to be grabbed," Carey said of the scene. "I don't want to be grabbed anyway, so I get to drop his tray and tell him off and kick him out of the restaurant."

Carey's whirlwind schedule at the time of filming "Wisegirls" contributed to her exhaustion last summer, she said. "Wisegirls" started filming in May 2001 and wrapped in July, the same month as her breakdown (see "Mariah Carey Had 'Breakdown,' Her Publicist Says"). Lions Gate Films had intended to release the film in theaters but sold broadcast rights to HBO (which owns Cinemax) this past spring.

For her next film, Carey re-teamed with "Wisegirls" co-producer Anthony Esposito for "Sweet Science," in which she plays a boxing manager (see "Despite 'Glitter,' Mariah Carey's Movie Career Could Still Sparkle").

"It's been great for me," Carey said, "just to come into it as an actor and go forth and feel and to be creative and to express another side of my creative self. It's been the most freeing experience."

"Wisegirls" debuts October 19 at 10 p.m.