Michael Jackson won’t fade from limelight soon
Published 10:23 am Wednesday, July 8, 2009
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The public mourning of Michael Jackson may be done, but the saga that was his personal life is far from over.
Nothing made that more clear than the one surprise of Tuesday’s memorial service, watched by millions around the world: the emotional speech by Jackson’s 11-year-old daughter, Paris-Michael.
‘‘Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father I could imagine,’’ she said, dissolving into tears and turning into the arms of her aunt Janet. ‘‘I just want to say I love him so much.’’
Custody of Jackson’s three children is one of the biggest legal issues still unresolved. In his 2002 will, Jackson made his wishes clear — his three children should remain under the care of his mother, Katherine.
Debbie Rowe, the biological mother of Paris and her 12-year-old brother, Prince Michael, has indicated she may seek custody. The surrogate mother of Jackson’s youngest child, 7-year-old Prince Michael II, is unknown. A custody hearing was scheduled for Monday.
As the world paused to remember Jackson, authorities released his death certificate, which did not list a cause of death. The official determination will likely wait until toxicology results are completed, which could be weeks away.
Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said Jackson’s brain, or at least part of it, was still being held by investigators and would be returned to the family for interment once neuropathology tests were completed.
Investigators have honed in on drugs that were administered to the insomniac Jackson. The powerful sedative Diprivan, which is usually administered by anesthesiologists in hospitals, was found in his home, according to a law enforcement official.
Jackson’s final resting place was another unknown. Permission is needed to bury him at his former home, Neverland Ranch.
A private memorial was held at a cemetery in the Hollywood Hills that is the resting place of many stars, but it does not appear Jackson will be buried among them.
No plans have been announced for Neverland, but it’s already drawn comparisons as a potential West Coast version of Graceland.
Then there’s Jackson’s money. He died deeply in debt, but left an estate potentially worth $500 million and his enduring star power with its tremendous earning potential.
Former Sony Music chairman and CEO Tommy Mottola has said Jackson left dozens of songs that included newer material and leftover works from some of his biggest albums. Mottola predicted the potential playlist was bigger than the one left behind by Elvis.
The singer also left behind an elaborate production dubbed ‘‘The Dome Project,’’ which could be Jackson’s last complete video piece. Little is publicly known about the production, but its existence has been confirmed by two knowledgeable sources who spoke to The Associated Press on condition they not be identified because they signed confidentiality agreements.
There also is more than 100 hours of footage of preparations for his London concerts, which were canceled because of his death. Randy Phillips, president and CEO of concert promoter AEG Live, said last week that the company also has enough material for two live albums.
On Tuesday, about 20,000 people gathered inside the Staples Center on Tuesday for a somber, spiritual ceremony, watched by millions more around the world.
Crowds gathered outside Harlem’s Apollo Theater in New York to soak it in. In Santiago, Chile, national police band played ‘‘We Are the World’’ during the traditional guard change at the presidential palace. About 50 fans lit candles and laid flowers in the main square in Stockholm, as ‘‘Billie Jean’’ and ‘‘Earth Song’’ poured out of a small stereo.
In London, dozens of fans sheltered under umbrellas against the rain as they watched the event on a big screen outside the 02 Arena, where Jackson was to have performed 50 comeback shows starting next week. Many more stayed dry at home after the BBC announced it would cancel scheduled programming and show the ceremony live.
‘‘His whole life was a global broadcast in a way, so I suppose it’s fitting that his death also is,’’ said barista Robert Anderson, 26, in London.
Calculating just how many people in total watched the ceremony — around the world and across all platforms — will take several days and even then will likely have to resort to an approximation, given the huge variety of outlets.
At the ceremony, a star-studded lineup of performers closely linked to Jackson’s life and music remembered Jackson as an unparalleled singer, dancer and humanitarian whose music united people of all backgrounds.
‘‘Don’t focus on the scars, focus on the journey,’’ said the Rev. Al Sharpton, whose fiery eulogy was one emotional high point of the service.
‘‘There wasn’t nothing strange about your daddy. It was strange what your daddy had to deal with!’’ he said to Jackson’s three children in the front row, drawing the longest ovation of the service.
Outside, More than 3,000 police officers massed downtown to keep the ticketless at bay. Helicopters followed the golden casket as it was driven over blocked-off freeways from Forest Lawn cemetery to the Staples Center. A bazaar of T-shirts, buttons, photos and other memorabilia sprouted in the blocks around the memorial. Movie theaters played the service live.
Inside, however, the atmosphere was churchlike, assisted by an enormous video image of a stained-glass window with red-gold clouds blowing past that was projected behind the stage.
The Rev. Lucious W. Smith of the Friendship Baptist Church in Pasadena gave the greeting, standing on the same stage where Jackson had been rehearsing for a comeback concert before his death on June 25 at age 50.
The ceremony ended with Jackson’s family on stage, amid a choir singing ‘‘Heal the World.’’
‘‘All around us are people of different cultures, different religions, different nationalities,’’ Rev. Smith said as he closed the service. ‘‘And yet the music of Michael Jackson brings us together.’’
Deficit-ridden Los Angeles asked Jackson fans to help pay the bill for police and other public servants needed for the entertainer’s memorial service.
A Web site was posted Tuesday seeking donations to cover the costs, estimated at between $1.5 million and $4 million, according to Matt Szabo, a spokesman for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
But Jack Kyser, founding economist of the Kyser Center for Economic Research of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, estimates the city could rake in $4 million from the event, thanks to the throng of media and other visitors who stayed at hotels, ate at restaurants and shopped in Los Angeles.
Kyser believes the city also got a major image boost because the memorial service went off without any major problems. ‘‘This thing went off very smoothly,’’ Kyser said. ‘‘I think you had some good exposure for downtown and for the entire city.’’