Jackson’s 3-D tribute is a hit at Grammy Awards

Brittni DeHart

From The Associated Press

In a mix of the mystical and gimmicky, Michael Jackson posthumously paid tribute to both Mother Earth and 3-D video on Sunday’s Grammy Awards telecast.

The occasion was a lifetime achievement award for Jackson from the Recording Academy.

But the much-awaited spectacle was the 3-D live-and-film number with the King of Pop heard performing his “Earth Song,” accompanied by on-stage stars as well as images from nature that had multitudes of Grammycast viewers peering through the red-and-blue-lensed 3-D glasses they scored beforehand from their local Target store.

This big event arrived about two-thirds into CBS’ three-hour live shindig from Los Angeles’ Staples Center.

It was introduced by Lionel Richie, who said the performance was meant by Jackson as a call to action against the destruction of Nature and animals by humans.

The performance began with footage of waterfalls and rain forests with Jackson heard declaring, “I respect the secrets and magic of Nature,” as the song began its message of preserving the planet.

The lyrics were affecting enough: “Did you ever stop to notice all the blood we’ve shed before? Did you ever stop to notice this crying Earth, its weeping shores?”

But with the sight of a little girl blowing the seeds of a dandelion seemingly right into a viewer’s living room, every viewer had to be captivated — at least, viewers with the 3-D glasses.

Viewers without glasses saw slightly offset red and greenish images. Not so captivating.

In turn, the background panoramic visuals were supplemented by onstage singers Celine Dion, Usher, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and Smokey Robinson to powerful effect — and, when captured at the proper angles, they stood in distinct 3-D relief against the film background.

Through it all, Jackson reigned in photos across the sprawling panorama.

As Richie explained in his introduction, the performance piece was produced as a key element of Jackson’s planned comeback concerts in London in July 2009 — shows that never happened because of his June 25 death in Los Angeles.

A part of the clip was included in Jackson’s movie documentary “This Is It,” but the full production of “Earth Song” had not been seen before and was billed by the Grammys as the first time an awards show had featured such a 3-D sequence.

Of course, the 3-D effect, however much still a novelty, is no stranger to TV. A year ago, NBC aired an episode of its action-adventure series “Chuck” in 3-D, as well as a commercial during the Super Bowl promoting the animated feature “Monsters vs. Aliens.”

Recently, two major cable networks — ESPN and Discovery — said they plan to start beaming 3-D entertainment into homes regularly.

And earlier in the day Sunday in Britain, pub-goers in nine pubs became the first public audiences to witness a live sports event broadcast in 3-D as they watched a soccer match: Manchester United beat Arsenal 3-1.