Michael Jackson Memorial Will Be Somber, Producer Says
Michael Jackson's sendoff will include some of music's biggest stars. It will be produced by the man long responsible for the Grammys, and broadcast across the world. The streets of downtown Los Angeles will be filled with many of the 1.6 million people who registered for free tickets to the event — which went to only 17,500 fans.
Despite the potential for chaos, producer Ken Erlich says it will be a tasteful, somber affair.
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"It will be a celebration of Michael's life [but] we're not approaching it as a TV show," Ehrlich told the Daily News of New York. "In the future, there may be a tribute to Michael Jackson," he said. "This is really a memorial service. It's not going to have all the bells and whistles. We want to keep it low-key."
In a statement, the Jackson family confirmed a preliminary list of participants that includes Kobe Bryant, Mariah Carey, Berry Gordy, Jennifer Hudson, Magic Johnson, John Mayer, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Brooke Shields, Usher, and Stevie Wonder. People is reporting that Beyonce Knowles and Whitney Houston will also appear, but will not perform. The family statement indicated that the list was subject to change, but that no further information would be available in advance of the service.
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"People who are watching it, both live and on TV, can expect to see people who have played a role in his life, who will both be reminiscing about him and speaking to the impact he's made," Ehrlich said.
One person who won't be attending the memorial is Jackson's ex-wife, Deborah Rowe, the mother of his two older children. "Although Debbie had originally planned to attend tomorrow's Staples Center memorial service, we have concluded with Debbie that she will not be attending," her attorney, Marta Almli, said in a statement to TVGuide.com on Monday. "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. Debbie will continue to celebrate Michael's memory privately."
The program will follow a private ceremony with Jackson's family. His casket, reportedly the same $25,000 model used for James Brown, will not make any procession through the streets, and Los Angeles police told fans they would enjoy better views of the event in front of their televisions. Officers planned a massive deployment to handle the surge of people and keep them from the event.
"There's no way to get to this venue if you don't have a ticket," said Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger.
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Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of promoter AEG Live, admonished the lucky 8,750 people awarded two tickets each not to scalp them.
"We're hoping people have dignity," he said." "Those who would take advantage of this, shame on them."
TV Guide Network, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC and E! Entertainment will air the event, which begins at 1 pm ET/10 am PT. (TVGuide.com will also be live-streaming the service.)
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In other developments:
—The Los Angeles Times reported that the LAPD has executed at least three search warrants in an attempt to reconstruct Jackson's medical history and determine whether prescription medication were a factor in his death.
—Madonna paid tribute to Jackson by having a dancer dressed as the singer moonwalk across the stage. She and her dancers later slipped jeweled gloves onto their right hands for the final song of her concert at O2 arena, where Jackson had been scheduled to perform in 50 comeback concerts.
—A judge denied a request by Jackson's mother, Katherine, to remain in temporary control of his estate. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff appointed two longtime Jackson advisors — John Branca and John McClain — as temporary administrators pending a hearing for August. Katherine Jackson did not dispute Jackson's 2002 will, in which he named the men the will's executors.
TV Guide Network's coverage of Michael Jackson's memorial begins at noon ET/9 am PT and includes the entire memorial service, live and commercial-free beginning at 1 pm ET/10 am PT. Then watch the memorial's most moving moments at 8.
And remember to check in for TVGuide.com's live updates — from inside the memorial — on Twitter.