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Jackson memorial service under way

Posted July 7, 2009

— A public memorial service for Michael Jackson has begun in downtown Los Angeles.

Smokey Robinson opened the memorial Tuesday morning in the Staples Center arena by reading comments from Jackson friends.

Singers Mariah Carey and Trey Lorenz sang their successful cover of the Jackson 5 hit "I'll Be There."

Motown founder Berry Gordy described Jackson as the "greatest entertainer" of all-time.

Rapper and actress Queen Latifah honored Jackson by reading a poem written for him by poet Maya Angelou.

Jackson's golden casket was placed on stage during the service.The casket was brought into Staples Center as a choir sang in front of a backdrop of stained-glass windows.

The public event followed a private service for family and friends in a cemetery hall in the Hollywood Hills.

Jackson's golden, flower-draped casket was brought to Staples Center in a motorcade under law enforcement escort.

Earlier in the morning, Jackson's family members and dozens of friends, led by his parents, Joe and Katherine, were seen entering a building at the cemetery. News reports estimated as many as 20 helicopters circled overhead.

Jackson's gold-plated casket, draped in crimson flowers, was placed in a the hearse by pallbearers in dark suits and gold neckties. Fans with a ticket wore gold wristbands and picked up a gold program guide on their way in.

The public memorial was to be televised live around the world. Among the celebrities expected to attend the memorial were Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, Usher, Lionel Richie, Kobe Bryant, Jennifer Hudson, John Mayer and Martin Luther King III.

Outside the Staples Center, Claudia Hernandez, 29, said she loved Jackson's music as a girl growing up in Mexico. Now a day-care teaching assistant in Los Angeles, Hernandez said she cried watching TV coverage of his death.

"I'm trying to hold in my emotions," said Hernandez, wearing a wristband to allow her admittance to the service and holding a framed photograph of Jackson. "I know right now he's teaching the angels to dance."

Police blocked off perimeter roads and warned those without tickets to stay away because they would not be able to get near the downtown venue.

Inside the Staples Center, a stage was bathed in blue light and a spray of yellow and orange flowers was placed in front of a podium. The backdrop featured a photo of a smiling Jackson looking up toward the sky and the words: "In loving memory of Michael Jackson King of Pop. 1958-2009."

Outside the arena, video billboards showed a montage of pictures from Jackson's life, including those of the singer as a child, with celebrities such as Luciano Pavarotti and Marcel Marceau, and with members of his family.

Some fans were allowed past street barriers into the immediate area around the Staples Center early Tuesday. Dozens of street vendors sold T-shirts, photos, buttons and other Jackson memorabilia.

More than 1.6 million people registered for the lottery for free tickets to Jackson's memorial. A total of 8,750 were chosen to receive two tickets each.

Los Angeles was the epicenter of Jackson-mania, but the outpouring of emotion was worldwide. Belgium's two national public broadcasters planned to broadcast the memorial live, and several hundred Jackson fans gathered at a Hong Kong mall late Tuesday.

Holding white candles, Hong Kong singer William Chan and Taiwanese pop star Judy Chou led the audience in observing a 30-second silence. Many of the fans clutched red roses and wore black; some donned Jackson's trademark fedora hats.

In America, about 50 movie theaters across the country, from Los Angeles to Topeka, Kan., and Washington, D.C., planned to show the memorial live, for free. Jackson died at age 50 on June 25.

"There are certain people in our popular culture that just capture people's imaginations. And in death, they become even larger," President Barack Obama told CBS while in Moscow. "Now, I have to admit that it's also fed by a 24/7 media that is insatiable."

The city of Los Angeles set up a Web site Tuesday to allow fans to help the city pay for his Staples Center memorial service. Mayor's office spokesman Matt Szabo estimates the service will cost $1.5 million to $4 million.

The Web page reads: "Help the City of Angels provide the extraordinary public safety resources required to give Michael the safe, orderly and respectful memorial he deserves."

It was not known what will happen to Jackson's body. The Forest Lawn Memorial Park Hollywood Hills cemetery is the final resting place for such stars as Bette Davis, Andy Gibb, Freddie Prinze, Liberace and recently deceased David Carradine and Ed McMahon.

---

AP Entertainment writer Sandy Cohen, AP Music writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody, AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch, Associated Press writers Solvej Schou, Christina Hoag, Amy Taxin, Andrew Dalton, Anthony McCartney and Danica Kirka contributed to this report.

17 Comments

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  • jagjoe31 Jul 7, 2009

    PERFECT COMMENT FROM FELLOW GOLOER:

    Elvis NEVER performed outside the US....#2...Let's get real, not many other races, other than White know Elvis's music..Look at the history of who goes to GraceLand, mostly white, Look at who went to MJ concerts, ALL RACES. If you go to ANY club and put on a MJ record, the whole place will start rocking. Can't do that with Elvis. MJJ Thriller 50 million sold...thousands of concerts sold out. Can Elvis top that? NOPE
    -----
    To add, --that's why there is so much coverage, because it is not just the "White" US, but other cultures and nations that highly supported him...

    That's the reason he sold the most records than ANY other artist EVER--- because the whole world grew up on him.

    So the Elvis comments doesn't make sense to me-- Elvis didn't touch the whole world like Michael. Michael set solid impressions with other people, not just white or black America. Michael was for all people, Elvis was only looking out for his own. Be Real!

  • gregbscis Jul 7, 2009

    I agree that Michael Jackson did a lot for many people. However, what about all of the child molestation accusations? If the accusations are not true, shame on the accusers. And if the accusations are true, shame on Michael Jackson and the rest of American who is currently worshiping him. The guy was obviously in pain most of his life and let him die in peace. I hope he is in a happier place now. If anything, I hope the monies earned today pays off his large debt and the rest goes to charity.

  • hdew2 Jul 7, 2009

    If i tried real hard i could not care less.

  • lillann15 Jul 7, 2009

    Yes, MJ was the King of Pop...we understand that...but why so much coverage?

    I agree with a prior comment on the fact that he gets all this coverage and the entire nation and world stops and the dern senate had a moment of silence for him, yet the men and women who SACRIFICE their lives receive no such respect. Senate leaders and politicians, I sure hope you have the decency to hold a moment of silence for EACH and EVERY soldier, marine, sailor, police officer, fire fighter, etc who has lost their life to protect and serve for this country to provide the freedom which we still stand...

  • alwaysconcernedmom Jul 7, 2009

    Our service men deserve the same coverage.

  • offconstantly Jul 7, 2009

    i cant believe all you selfish and rude people on golo. this man was a national icon and donated so much to a wide variety of charities. he was more than the king of pop, he was an american icon. yes he did have issues during his life but he still opened the doors for so much in entertainment and music world. maybe when this memorial is done yall can go back to watching your so important "young and the restless" soap opera

  • AC Man Jul 7, 2009

    SORRY For The Mispell it's " let him rest in peace"
    hope it is the end of it. The man is dead let him rest in peace. My prayers goes out to the family. lets move on. this is dead news. report something that is news.

  • AC Man Jul 7, 2009

    I hope it is the end of it. The man is dead let me rest in peace. My prayers goes out to the family. lets move on. this is dead news. report something that is news.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Jul 7, 2009

    "I can't believe all of the TV coverage showing this!"

    Showing what? Is it over yet?

  • jagjoe31 Jul 7, 2009

    Everyone.. Don't be mad that he left an impression on the entire world and not just one particular group of people. He touched GLOBALLY which is huge. Listen to the artists from all cultures say how much they appreciate Michael because he opened up the doors to their own careers. Look at your favorite performers and they will tell you that they got all types of ideas from Michael in regards to choreagraphy.

    Try to do something that touch everyone, not just your own race. Michael's music (WE ARE THE WORLD, MAN IN THE MIRROR (AIDS), BLACK OR WHITE-He didnt care what color because we are all humans. The people that you may characterize to be the greatest... did they A)Represent other races and have that support factor or B)Sold the most records EVER than any other performer I DON'T THINK SO. Why do you think there is coverage on every major and small network since he died? That is no cooincodence. Michael ran the show. At 10 yrs. old, he was remarkable with hits after hits. Be Real...

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