Fans worldwide tuned in to the Michael Jackson memorial on Tuesday, a Hollywood-style ceremony that unfolded over two hours at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.
It was a star-studded, bittersweet event in a place where, less than two weeks ago, the entertainer had been rehearsing for a concert tour to begin in London.
The most unexpected moment came at the very end, when Jackson’s daughter Paris — for so long shielded from the media — stood on stage and addressed her father: "Ever since I was born, Daddy was the best father I could ever imagine," she said. "I just want to say I love him so much."
The ceremony began with pastor Lucious Smith welcoming the millions watching around the world. “To millions, MJ was an idol, a hero, even a king,” he said.
Mariah Carey and Trey Lorenz sang an emotional version of “I’ll Be There,” and Lionel Richie, wearing a yellow rose and backed by a gospel choir, sang a hymnal. Jennifer Hudson, left, sang a moving version of "Will You Be There." Jermaine Jackson, above, sang a sad, a capella version of the song, "Smile."
His brother Marlon Jackson alluded to the singer’s controversial life when he said at the end of the ceremony, "Michael, maybe now they will leave you alone."
Queen Latifah saluted Jackson’s symbolism as an African-American hero. “He let me know that as an African-American, you could travel the world, there was a world outside of America, all you people who came here to pay respects to someone who was one of you, a human being first. “
In a spotlight at the front of the arena, Michael Jackson’s golden coffin, heaped with roses, stood where just 13 days ago he was rehearsing.
Berry Gordy, left, the legendary Motown producer, hailed Jackson as “simply the greatest entertainer who ever lived.”
The Jackson brothers were dressed in darks suits, yellow ties, and sequined gloves on their right hands. Jackson’s three children sat between Jackson’s parents Katherine and Joe.
Basketball star Magic Johnson recalled going to Michael Jackson’s house and ordering grilled chicken, and finding that the singer had instead gotten Kentucky Fried Chicken.
“That made my day,” he said. “That was the greatest moment of my life. We had the greatest time, sitting on the floor eating that bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.”
He added: "I want to thank Michael for opening up so many doors for African-Americans. For Kobe (Bryant) and I to have our jerseys in homes all over the world. He opened all those doors for us."
Brooke Shields, left, weeping, recalled a friendship that went back three decades to when she was 13; While many thought their friendship odd, she said, “It was the most natural and easiest of friendships — Michael knew he could count on me to support him, be his date, we’d have fun wherever we were.”
She recalled teasing him when Jackson began wearing a glove. “I was like, ‘What’s up with the glove? If you’re gonna hold up my hand, it better be with the nongloved one.’ He’d just shake his head and smile.”
She said the Michael Jackson she knew had the “purest, sweetest laugh I’ve ever known.”
Some of the speakers elevated Jackson to a status that would have been unheard of before his death. Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., praised him as a humanitarian. “He epitomized that an individual hasn’t started living until he can rise above (and address) the broader concerns of humanity — Michael was always concerned with humanity.”
Referring to the accusations of child molestation, King hailed Jackson for being a humanitarian “despite accusations and persecution.”
And Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex), left, said she would be introducing a resolution into Congress to recognize Jackson as “an American legend, music icon, world humantiarian, someone who will be honored forever and forever and forever.”
LIVE-BLOGGING THROUGH THE CEREMONY:
The memorial ended with a live performance from what was to be MJ’s upcoming London tour "This Is It." A group of singers came together to sing "We Are the World" and Janet Jackson clutched the shoulder of MJ’s daughter, Paris.
The tone became more reflective when Martin Luther King III and his sister Bernice talked about MJ’s impact on diversity. They were followed by Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who, referring to MJ’s child molestation charges, said that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.
As Stevie Wonder was led to the stage, he drew the loudest applause of the morning. He spoke about MJ in a quiet, shaky voice and said that God must have needed MJ more than society did. His performance was also the most emotional of the morning, as the audience was silent except for the sound of sniffles from those who let tears stream down their face without hesitation.
Dozens of people were still being seated nearly 30 minutes after the ceremony was scheduled to begin. The Staples Center appeared to be full, however — from the floor to nosebleed seats, fans whispered quietly, wondering of who was walking past and when the proceedings would begin.
Smokey Robinson was the first to take the stage to read a statement from Diana Ross and Nelson Mandela, neither of whom were in attendance. Meanwhile, friends and family walked in on a red carpet, and the event had the strange hybrid aura of a Hollywood premiere, mixed with the sadness of a funeral. Among those seen arriving were Jesse Jackson, Brett Ratner and Lou Ferrigno all came in late, joining Magic Johnson, Usher and Brooke Shields.
With police blockades keeping fans away from Michael Jackson’s private burial at Forest Lawn, a small but devoted group gathered to mourn from a distance. On a bank of grass facing the cemetery from across the L.A. river bed, a crowd trickled in throughout the early morning reaching its largest during the service. Just as the media covered Forest Lawn with their fans, cars lined several blocks of Riverside Drive. The scene did not resemble the atmosphere at, for example, UCLA Medical Center the day he died. There were no signs or stereos, no impromptu dances.
On the media line-up between the Staples Center and the Nokia Theaters, hundreds of reporters gathered to broadcast news of the funeral worldwide. Jackson’s former trainer Lou Ferigno was surrounded by reporters as fans shouted to him from behind the barricades. Brian Oxman, Jackson’s former lawyer who has taken heat for his recent criticism of the singer and his drug habits, spoke to a Fox News camera for nearly an hour.
As fans with coveted gold wristbands made their way towards the Staples Center early Tuesday morning, many broke out in song and others shed tears of disbelief over finally making it to the King of Pop’s memorial. Vendors lined the street shilling t-shirts plastered with the singer’s iconic face, buttons, and shiny silver sunglasses. One couple, who said they had won their tickets from Canada via the online raffle, bought an extra ticket for a friend from a scalper for $250.
A trail of black sedans carried the Jackson family to Forest Lawn cemetery in the Hollywood Hills on a glaringly bright Tuesday morning for the private funeral of Michael Jackson, whose death nearly two weeks ago set off a worldwide wave of shock and mourning.
Along with family and friends, cable news networks from around the world, radio and print reporters were clustered at the funeral home, where many Hollywood figures are laid to rest.
Jackson, who was 50 when he died of heart failure just before he was to set out on a world concert tour, was to be transported to the Staples Center immediately after the ceremony at Forest Lawn.
Thousands of fans were already milling about the Staples Center, where superstars including Stevie Wonder, Usher and Mariah Carey were scheduled to perform at a memoriam quite unlike the city has ever seen.
More to come…
A city official tells E! that the Jackson memorial could cost debt-ridden Los Angeles over $2.5 million. City officials have asked AEG to pay for some of the public costs, but the company has declined, according to L.A. City Councilman Dennis Zine. He also said that the city attorney’s office is considering taking unspecified action over the public outlay of funds.
So what is the city paying for?:
-At least 1,400 police officers
-Department of Transportation officers to enforce street closures
-Department of Public Works workers to keep area clean
-Fire and rescue specialists
– E! Online, 5:57 p.m. ET July 6
Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, John Mayer Among Stars to Perform at Memorial
Usher, Stevie Wonder, John Mayer and Mariah Carey are among the stars who have been confirmed to partake in Michael Jackson’s memorial service at the Staples Center on Tuesday. Lionel Richie, Jennifer Hudson and Smokey Robinson will also appear at the event. An official press release from the Jackson family said that also in attendance would be: Brooke Shields; Kobe Bryant; Magic Johnson; Rob Boyd (family friend); Andrae Crouch Choir; Berry Gordy; Shaheen Jafargholi (finalist on "Britain’s Got Talent"); Martin Luther King III; Bernice A. King; Rev. Al Sharpton and Pastor Lucious Smith (family friend). The line-up is subject to change, and a number of high-profile celebrities — like Justin Timberlake — are rumored to be unveiled Tuesday. — TheWrap, 5:15 p.m. ET July 6
photo by j.h. mchale
Michael Jackson’s memorial service will be broadcasted live in around 80 movie theaters. Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. reached an agreement with the Jackson family and LA-based Anschutz Entertainment Group Sunday evening to offer the telecast to theater chains for fans in 31 U.S. states to be able to watch a cinema-quality hi-definition broadcast. The live program will not have commentary or interruptions. — Bloomberg, 3:15 p.m. ET July 6
Despite public plans to attend Jackson’s memorial, the mother of Jackson’s children will not attend the event to commemorate the singer on Tuesday. "The onslaught of media attention has made it clear her attendance would be an unnecessary distraction to an event that should focus exclusively on Michael’s legacy," Rowe said in a statement. "Debbie will continue to celebrate Michael’s memory privately." — TMZ, 2:40 p.m. ET July 6
Press Gather to Pick Up Credentials at Dodger Stadium
Before the anticipated onslaught of fans were to line up in their cars Monday morning to retrieve coveted tickets to Michael Jackson’s memorial, the press gathered over the weekend to pick up their credentials in a Dodger Stadium parking lot. Journalists from outlets from around the world — New Zealand, the U.K. and France — lined up at a small tent and presented their identification in exchange for a gold wristband, a blue wristband and the hard ticket they will need to attend the proceedings on Tuesday at the Staples Center. — TheWrap, 1:00 p.m. ET July 6
Scalpers Offering Up Tickets on eBay
Despite a plea by the LAPD last week for holders of prized tickets to Tuesday’s Michael Jackson memorial service not to sell them, scalpers on eBay have been asking as much as $100,000 to see the event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
With less than 24 hours before the memorial is schedule to start, other scalpers, desperate to feed the hunger for Jackson memorabilia, are selling their mere notification that they had been selected to get the tickets for $2.99. There appeared to be little interest in this offer.
The $100,000 "Buy It Now" offer, however, has been taken down from eBay and is no longer available for purchase or for bidding, suggesting that it might have been sold or there may have been some issue about the bid.
But, as the clock ticks, there are plenty more offers at a much more reduced rate ranging from $3,800 to $8,500.
While high-priced offers for tickets and wrist bands to gain entry into the area surrounding the Staples Center are plentiful, there appear to be few bidders.
There are no bids on a $5,000 offer, but there are 10 bids at one for $12,099.99. Business if brisker at scalped offerings at $127.50.
One offer for an auction on the Internet buying service carried this blurb:
“This auction is for a "Michael Jackson Memorial Ticket" voucher. It is already redeemed so you do not need to worry about getting the ticket within the time limit and taking a chance you may not get a ticket.The PDF will be emailed to you upon payment! IMMEDIATE payment thru Paypal MUST be received in full before voucher will be released.You must be able to present the voucher at Dodger Stadium today, July 6th between 8am – 6pm to receive the official tickets/wristbands. This voucher entitles you to two (2) seats at the Staples Center memorial Tuesday, July 7th.”
About 1.6 million people signed up to receive the free tickets, which grant entry either to the live event at Staples Center or to neighboring Nokia Theatre in Hollywood, where the memorial will be shown on a live feed. Holders of vouchers have already begun to stand in line for their tickets.
Despite the selection of the Staples Center, the Jackson family, according to a family insider, requested the police on Sunday to reschedule the memorial service at McArthur Park, a vast part north of the sports arena that could hold more people who could watch the event on giant television screens.
The family source said the police rejected this plan because “it was too little, too late.”
The source said there continues to be growing concern by some of the Jacksons that chaos could unfold at the Staples Center when thousands to fans show up without tickets and get turned away.
“I don’t think the authorities understand the fervor and love these fans have for Michael,” he said.