Entertainment briefs – January 6

Willie Mitchell, a record producer and musician who worked with Al Green and dozens of others, has died. He was 81.

Willie Mitchell dies at age 81

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Willie Mitchell, a record producer and musician who worked with Al Green and dozens of others, has died. He was 81.

Mitchell’s son, Lawrence Mitchell, said his father suffered a cardiac arrest on Dec. 19 and died at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis at 7:25 a.m. Tuesday.

Willie Mitchell owned Royal Studio where Buddy Guy, John Mayer and many others recorded. In the 1970s, Mitchell also owned Hi Records of Memphis, the label for Green.

He received a Trustees Award from the Grammy Foundation in 2008.

A trumpeter, Mitchell and his band provided the music at several New Year’s Eve parties for Elvis Presley at Presley’s Graceland home. A Memphis boulevard was named in his honour in 2004.

Mitchell was born and raised in Ashland, Miss.


Four books on Charles Taylor shortlist

TORONTO — Books about Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Rene Levesque, newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst and a boy’s rare affliction have been shortlisted for the Charles Taylor Prize for literary non-fiction.

Ian Brown’s The Boy in the Moon: A Father’s Search For His Disabled Son chronicles his son Walker’s struggles with a rare genetic mutation.

Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1968 – 2000, by John English, is the second volume in a two-part biography.

Rene Levesque, by Daniel Poliquin, examines the life of a man who was seen in different parts of Canada as either a nation-building hero or a nation-destroying villain.

And Kenneth Whyte’s The Uncrowned King: The Sensational Rise of William Randolph Hearst explores the battle between American newspaper publishers Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer.

The winner of the Charles Taylor Prize, which will be announced Feb. 8, will receive $25,000. The other three finalists will receive $2,000 each.

The four titles were gleaned from a crop of 125 Canadian titles by jurors Andrew Cohen, Tim Cook and Sheila Fischman.


ESPN, Discovery push 3-D TV

NEW YORK — Two major cable networks — ESPN and Discovery — said Tuesday they plan to start beaming 3-D entertainment into peoples’ homes.

Riding what could be one of the next big waves in consumer electronics, ESPN said it will have a 3-D channel for broadcasting live sports events in time for the FIFA World Cup soccer match on June 11.

The channel will not operate 24 hours a day, but plans at least 85 live events in its first year.

Separately, Discovery Communications Inc., which owns Discovery, TLC and other cable channels, announced it will partner with Canada’s Imax Corp. and Sony Corp. to bring out its own full-time 3-D network. The companies did not say which shows it will air on the new channel, to launch in 2011.

It’s yet to be seen whether 3-D can make inroads in the home. For viewers it will likely mean buying new TV sets and wearing 3-D glasses.

But major electronics makers such as Sony Corp. and Panasonic Corp. are planning to market 3-D-capable TVs this year.

And the movie industry has already had some success with the technology, with 3-D films taking in more than $1 billion at box offices last year.

In an interview, ESPN’s vice-president for technology, Chuck Pagano, said the network is preparing for a “3-D tsunami” in the TV industry.


Johnson autopsy planned

LOS ANGELES — An autopsy is planned for Casey Johnson, the heiress to the Johnson&Johnson empire and daughter of the owner of the New York Jets who was found dead in her Los Angeles home.

Los Angeles County Chief Coroner Investigator Craig Harvey says the examination will be held Tuesday for the 30-year-old Johnson.

He says he cannot provide other details and didn’t immediately confirm police statements there were no signs of foul play.

Paramedics pronounced Johnson dead Monday. She was the daughter of Woody Johnson and the girlfriend of reality TV star Tila Tequila.


Google offers cellphone, but not here

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — It’s official: Google Inc. will sell its own mobile phone in an effort to protect its online advertising empire as people increasingly surf the web on handsets instead of personal computers.

But Canadians will have to wait.

The phone announced Tuesday has been widely anticipated since Google handed out the Nexus Oneto its own employees three weeks ago.

Consumers in the United States will be able to buy the Nexus One for US$179, if they commit to a two-year service contract, or $529 without a contract.

Verizon Wireless in the United States and Vodafone in Europe will begin offering subsidies on the Nexus One this spring, say Google executives.

On Twitter, a Google Canada spokesperson offered the company’s rationale for not launching the phone in Canada just yet.

“We’re gradually launching in different places to get user feedback and ensure smooth ordering,” the spokesperson said.

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