LEE MENDELSON DIES; BROUGHT “CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS” TO TV
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Lee Mendelson, the producer who brought “A Charlie Brown Christmas” to television in 1965 and wrote the lyrics to its song, “Christmas Time Is Here,” died on Christmas day. Mendelson’s son Jason tells The Associated Press Friday that his father died at age 86 in his California home after a long cancer battle. Lee Mendelson, who won 12 Emmys, headed a team that included “Peanuts” author Charles Schulz and pianist Vince Guaraldi. Mendelson had said he wrote the lyrics to Guaraldi’s composition “Christmas Time Is Here” in about 15 minutes. It would help make the show a holiday classic.
UK HONORS OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN, SAM MENDES, STEVE MCQUEEN
LONDON (AP) – Britain has released its New Year’s Honors list, featuring a number of film and music stars along with achievers from the worlds of research, politics and community service. “Grease” star Olivia Newton-John was made a dame in recognition of her support of cancer research and her stellar career. Prominent directors Sam Mendes and Steve McQueen were made knights. Singer Elton John was appointed to the Order of the Companions of Honor to go with the knighthood he received two decades ago. The honors are published twice a year by Britain’s Cabinet Office.
‘SKYWALKER’ RISES AGAIN; ‘LITTLE WOMEN’ GO BIG AT BOX OFFICE
LOS ANGELES (AP) – “Star Wars” was still rising at the box office, while “Little Women” opened big. Studio estimates Sunday showed that “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” brought in $72 million over the weekend to remain the top-earning movie, well ahead of second-place “Jumanji: The Next Level.” Director Greta Gerwig’s re-imagining of the literary classic “Little Women” had a $16.5 million weekend and a five-day total of $29 million since its Christmas opening, a major performance for a smaller-audience film with a budget dwarfed by the top two. The drama is gaining momentum as an awards-season favorite.
DON IMUS, MADE AND BETRAYED BY HIS MOUTH, DEAD AT 79
NEW YORK (AP) – Don Imus, whose career was made and then undone by his acid tongue during a decades-long rise to radio stardom and an abrupt public plunge after a nationally broadcast racial slur, has died. He was 79. Imus survived drug and alcohol woes, a raunchy appearance before President Clinton and several firings during his long career behind the microphone. But he was vilified and eventually fired after describing black women on a college basketball team as “nappy headed hos.”