Entertainment

Jackson memorial set for Staples Center

Thursday, July 02, 2009
Jackson memorial at Staples Center Tuesday Jackson Estate Jackson fans Jackson Encino Jacksons body at Forest Lawn cemetery? Michael Jackson rehearses before death

A public memorial for Michael Jackson will be held Tuesday at Staples Center, and the city of Los Angeles is bracing for massive crowds.

AEG Live, which owns Staples Center and was Jackson's concert promoter, has confirmed the service will take place at the arena at 10 a.m.

ABC News is reporting that officials are expecting crowds of up to 750,000 people. Randy Phillips, chief executive for AEG Live, says AEG will provide a simulcast on big screens outside the arena to accommodate the overflow crowd that is expected.

AEG says 11,000 tickets will be distributed to the public, all free of charge.

Fans believe the memorial will be massive, similar to the outpouring of love and grief after the death of Princess Diana.

"I think it's wonderful. I believe it's a good thing. It's a place where his fans can come, large amounts of people can come," said Jackson fan Rhonda Glaude.

In front of Staples Center on Thursday morning, police already posted barriers, and preparations appear to be underway. ABC News reported that L.A. city officials met on Thursday to work on plans for the memorial.

Police have already blocked off Chick Hearn Court, which runs between the arena and LA Live. Many think that it is to keep fans from camping out in anticipation of a memorial.

Fans said they are grateful that it appears they'll be able to say a final goodbye at Staples.

"This is Los Angeles, and Michael Jackson was an idol for us, all of us, and we think it's very important for us to participate in his memorial," said Jackson fan Loly Guilino.

The event will feature live music performances that will be recorded and made into a CD and DVD, according to ABC News.

There's word that Jackson's body is at Forest Lawn Mortuary in the Hollywood Hills. There is at least one media report of a private funeral being held for Michael Jackson at Forest Lawn mortuary on Tuesday morning. The unconfirmed report says that after the private service a motorcade will go from the mortuary to Staples Center in downtown L.A. for a public service.

Eyewitness News has learned that businesses around Forest Lawn have been contacted by the LAPD and asked if their facilities can be used on Tuesday by authorities.

Staples Center is where Michael Jackson conducted rehearsals for his "This Is It" comeback concert series in London, which was set to begin next month. New video from AEG shows Jackson rehearsing at Staples just two days before the 50-year-old died.

"He seemed like he was at home, he was really comfortable. That would have been a great show," fan Clarke Stewart said after watching the newly released video.

AEG says a tribute show based on the canceled concerts is likely, with members of the Jackson family and other musicians taking part. Jackson fans say a tribute on that scale is more than well deserved.

"It's very hard to accept it, but I'm very, I know God has him wrapped up in his arms and he's just holding him and loving him and giving him everything that he needed, that he didn't feel that he got here on Earth," said fan Gloria Harvey.

Jackson fans are flocking to Los Angeles to honor the fallen superstar. An LAX worker tells Eyewitness News that fans have been flying into the airport from all over the world over the last few days.

Jackson's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame continues to buzz with activity.

"We came as soon as we heard about the tragedy of Michael Jackson," said Annette from Norway. "So we wanted to come and bring flowers, maybe go see Neverland."

ABC news has learned that there are as many as 12 unreleased Michael Jackson songs, which will likely be released on a CD.

Meanwhile, the federal government has joined the investigation into the singer's sudden death.

Some of the key questions that authorities are looking into is whether Jackson was addicted to prescription pain killers.

Investigators removed more evidence from Jackson's rented Holmby Hills mansion, including prescription drugs. One of them was reportedly Diprivan, a powerful sedative often used for surgery.

Psychic entertainer Uri Geller, a former Jackson confidant, said Thursday he tried to keep Jackson from abusing painkillers and other prescription drugs, but others in the singer's circle kept him supplied.

"When Michael asked for something, he got it. This was the great tragedy," Geller said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from his suburban London home.

Michael Jackson's older brother Jermaine said on Thursday that he hates anything with drugs, and would be hurt if reports of prescription drug use are true.

It's not uncommon for the Feds to look into doctors or pharmacies, and it's expected to take several more weeks to determine which drugs, if any, contributed to Jackson's death.

In the meantime, the battle heats up over the Jackson estate.

The will filed on Wednesday makes Jackson's mother Katherine the guardian of the three children. The estate is put into a trust which is not being made public, and singer Diana Ross is named as the backup guardian if anything happens to the grandmother.

Debbie Rowe, the mother of the two oldest children, is believed to have a claim on custody, but that will be up to a judge. The attorney for Debbie Rowe held a press conference on Thursday and says Rowe "has not reached a final conclusion on the pending custody of Michael Jackson's children."

In reference to a report Wednesday night that Rowe would in fact seek custody, the attorney said, "Debbie shared her thoughts late last night with a local reporter. It was accurately and ethically reported. Debbie has not reached a final decision concerning the custody hearing."

The attorney declined to answer any further questions and concluded the conference call.

Rowe was paid $8.1 million in a court settlement when she and Jackson divorced nine years ago.

She hasn't spent much time with the two children, and it's not known if she will contest the will giving the grandmother sole custody.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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