The Daily Mail is reporting that Michael Jackson’s body will ‘lie in state’ at today’s memorial at the Staples Center
Michael Jackson is expected to go on show to his fans and a worldwide TV audience at today’s memorial service in Los Angeles. His gold-plated $25,000 coffin is set to be put on display open-topped at the Staples Centre sports and entertainment arena.
His body will ‘lie in state’ after being driven from the Forest Lawn cemetery in Hollywood Hills, where the family will attend a private service. Forest Lawn Memorial Park – the cemetery that is the final stop for some of Hollywood’s most legendary performers – is where the Jackson family attended a service last night. Among those present were the singer’s two older children Prince Michael, 12, and Paris, 11. His sisters Janet and La Toya Jackson, together with their parents Joe and Katherine and Jackson’s five brothers, were also there. The private service is scheduled to start at 11am EST before Michael Jackson’s body is transported to the Staples Center at 12pm EST.
The procession to the Staples Centre is being described as America’s “Princess Diana moment”. The Jackson brothers were said be keen on the body being driven in an open coffin so that mourners could throw flowers. A team of circus elephants and tigers were being lined up for a show at the Staples Centre.
At this time, arrangements have not been made for Jackson to be buried at Forest Lawn, so it will likely not happen on Tuesday morning. At 3pm EST, the body will be brought back to Forest Lawn for the time being until burial arrangements are finalized. Rumors that Jackson’s body could be cremated and his remains laid to rest at his beloved NeverLand Ranch near Los Olivos in Santa Barbara County have also been mentioned, but not confirmed.
Even for Jackson, whose over-the-top lifestyle was full of bizarre episodes, the memorial plan has been seen by some as ghoulish and the family was said to be divided over whether to make the ceremony more discreet. The Jacksons’ deeply religious mother, Katherine, was reported to be anxious for a more low-key affair.
The California Highway Patrol was preparing to provide an escort for the family motorcade to travel the 11 miles between the cemetery and the Staples Centre. A cordon has already been thrown around the area to keep at a distance the thousands of fans without tickets who are expected to turn up.
Dame Elizabeth Taylor, one of Jackson’s closest friends, said she was snubbing the ‘public hoopla’ of the event. The veteran film star, 77, was asked to speak at the memorial, but turned the organizers down. In a statement on Twitter, she wrote: ‘I just don’t believe that Michael would want me to share my grief with millions of others.’
Jackson’s brother, Jermaine, will headline the show at the Staples Centre and will be joined on stage by guests including Mariah Carey, Jennifer Hudson, Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Usher and Brooke Shields. ‘Everything about the memorial has to do with accommodating as many fans as possible,’ said Ken Sunshine, the Jackson family spokesman. Details of the service have been kept under wraps, but guests will mourn the singer with a program called ‘A Celebration of Life’, and one of the highlights a performance of Jackson 5 hit “I’ll Be There” by Mariah Carey.
One person who won’t be at the memorial is Debbie Rowe, Jackson’s ex-wife and the mother of his two oldest children. She had planned to attend, but backed out saying it would be a ‘distraction.’ Rowe’s lawyer, Marta Almli, said: ‘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.’
More than 1.6 million people registered to win the coveted free tickets, and only 8,750 names were chosen. Tickets are now being touted, with some being offered for as much as $100,000 on auction site eBay. But a spokesperson from the auction website warned in a statement: ‘eBay will not allow the sale of tickets to the Michael Jackson Memorial Service being held on Tues 7 July. All such listings currently on any of our sites are being removed.’