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Taking Names: Underwater filmmakers die in helicopter crash

- - Monday, February 6, 2012

Underwater filmmakers die in helicopter crash

Award-winning American cinematographer Mike deGruy and Australian television writer-producer Andrew Wight died in a helicopter crash in eastern Australia, their employer National Geographic said.

Police said two people - an Australian pilot and an American passenger - died Saturday when their helicopter crashed soon after takeoff from an airstrip near Nowra, 97 miles south of Sydney, but did not immediately release the victims' identities. Australia's ABC News reported that Mr. Wight was piloting the helicopter when it crashed.

National Geographic and "Titanic" director James Cameron confirmed the victims' identities in a joint statement Sunday that said "the deep-sea community lost two of its finest" with the deaths of the underwater documentary specialists.

Mr. deGruy, 60, of Santa Barbara, Calif., won multiple Emmy and British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards for cinematography.

Mr. Wight, 52, of Melbourne, Australia, was the writer-producer of the 3-D movie "Sanctum," which took in $100 million and was Australian cinema's biggest box office hit of 2010.

The joint statement said Mr. deGruy spent 30 years producing and directing documentary films about the ocean. An accomplished diver and submersible pilot who spent many hours filming deep beneath the sea, he was the director of undersea photography for Mr. Cameron's 2005 "Last Mysteries of the Titanic," the statement said.

"Mike and Andrew were like family to me," Mr. Cameron said. "They were my deep-sea brothers and both were true explorers who did extraordinary things and went places no human being has been."

Cannon celebrates good health with Super Bowl appearance

What do you do after recovering from a serious illness? If you're Nick Cannon, you celebrate by attending the Super Bowl.

The entertainer was hospitalized last month after suffering from a form of mild kidney failure, but he said he is now fully recovered.

"This is a great place to get back and debut the healthy Nick," he said Sunday during a break as the host of NBC's pre-game show. "Everybody's out here having a good time, and you know people were worried like, 'Is he going to be able to do the Super Bowl pre-show?' But I am 100 percent feeling good right now."

Mr. Cannon attributed his improved health to a change in diet.

Urban returns to stage after vocal cord surgery

Keith Urban is back. The country star returned to the stage during the Grand Ole Opry on Friday night, hitting a few high notes in his first public appearance since vocal cord surgery late last year.

Mr. Urban let loose with a "Yeehaw!" after a standing-room-only crowd at Ryman Auditorium leapt to its feet when he took the stage.

He played three songs and an unexpected encore. He was joined by a string quartet on "Long Hot Summer," then turned down the volume and sang "Making Memories of Us" microphone-free with the audience. His full band then joined him on stage for "You Gonna Fly" and "I Wanna Love Somebody Like You."

Mr. Urban didn't address the surgery while speaking with the crowd. The 44-year-old Australian had a polyp removed from a vocal cord in November.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports.