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    Friday, July 10, 2009

    Pop King, Michael Jackson’s Funeral Thrills The World

    Paying their respects: Queen Latifah shared her memories of Jackson

    Breaking down: Paris cries after paying tribute to her father Michael Jackson at his memorial concert, surrounded by his family; (L to R) Marlon, Tito, Jermaine, Randy, Paris, Rebbie, Janet and Prince Michael

    Brotherly love: Marlon Jackson gave a speech about his brother Michael as the memorial ended
    Following Wonder were light-hearted reflections from Jackson's sporting friends Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson.

    Missing daddy: Paris (L) and Prince Michael Jackson I (R) watch the crowd while Their brother Prince Michael Jackson II hides between them

    On the big stage: 12-year-old Shaheen with Jennifer Hudson and Lionel Ritchie

    Close: Paris and Blanket are comforted by their aunts Janet (L) and LaToya (R

    MJ Lives: These vendors are selling shirts with a cheeky caption

    Joe Jackson travels to his son's funeral

    Brothers in sorrow: Randy Jackson and Tito Jackson console each other after the funeral service
    Women in black: Janet Jackson, La Toya Jackson and Rebbie Jackson after the ceremony at Staples Center

    Performance of his young life: 12-year-old Britain's Got Talent star Shaheen sings Jackson's song Who's Lovin' You in tribute

    The show's finale: Jackson's backing singers and a children's chorus sang We are the World

    Saying goodbye: The rose covered coffin holding the remains of Michael Jackson rests in the front of stage

    All the glitz: Michael Jackson fans packed into the Staples Center for the memorial

    Praying at the altar of Michael: A back-lit window gives the Staples Center a church-like effect

    The Rolls-Royce motorcade makes its way to the Forest Lawn Memorial Park

    Stevie Wonder serenaded Jackson's coffin with the song Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer

    In tears: Loyal fans are moved to tears during the memorial

    Lionel Richie sang Jesus Is Love

    Tribute: Mariah Carey sang I'll Be There with Trey Lorenz at the Michael Jackson tribute concert

    I think he is simply the greatest entertainer that ever lived: Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr
    Touching goodbye: Usher performed at the casket

    Balancing the delicate choices about entertainment vs. eulogy, the Michael Jackson memorial worked incredibly well as both without bowing to the expectations of either.Tuesday's event as Staples Center was under a global microscope of fans, media and harrumphers, and few in the house -- and likely at home -- could argue its elegance, sense of purpose and breadth of emotions.There was no glitzy entertainment in the interim, nothing really for the crowd to do. It was a surreal experience to be among 17,000-plus people sitting quietly for the first dozen minutes or so, until many felt comfortable talking among themselves.Overall, there were many more smiles and laughs than tears during the two-hour-plus event. There also was a deliberate and noticeable lack of flash, again straddling that line between the showbiz so many craved and the sorrow so many felt.Once the speakers and singers began, there was an unhurried pace -- far from the showbiz spectacle many expected, even assumed. A performance followed each eulogy, and the song choices mostly eschewed Jackson's huge hits for lesser-known material sung with a purpose.Everyone who stepped to the podium seemed to have a singular purpose in their words. The Jackson family's pastor, Lucious Smith, offered words of comfort after loss. Queen Latifah spoke for the legions of Jackson's fans, recalling how she and her brother tried to master the Robot after buying the "Dancing Machine" 45. Kobe Bryant stressed the King of Pop's huge-scale humanitarian efforts.Sharpton focused on Jackson as a bridge builder and a barrier smasher between races and cultures.There was a little buzz in the room as he took the stage. The fiery orator seized the room immediately. "It was Michael Jackson who brought blacks and white and Latinos and Asians together," he boomed, earning one of the biggest cheers of the day.He also offered one of the event's best lines in any context. Speaking directly to Jackson's three children -- and likely to his many detractors -- he said, "Wasn't nothing strange about your daddy; it was strange what your daddy had to deal with."The three most affecting speakers -- Berry Gordy, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Brooke Shields -- offered up very succinct and very different points about Jackson's life. Shields gave a perspective with which few can really identify: the loss of innocence of a child star. Her remembrances of their laughing together and just being "two little kids having fun" were particularly moving, driving home the fact that Jackson never really had a childhood -- and won't get a chance at golden years either. The performances ranged from outstanding to "thanks for coming out." Stevie Wonder began by saying, "This is a moment that I wished I didn't have to see coming." His soulful, sorrowful, heart-wrenching delivery of "They Won't Go When I Go" easily was the best of the day. At the other end of the spectrum, Mariah Carey made a number of missteps during her version of the Jackson 5's "I'll Be There" early on.The service had an undeniably Christian tone, which might raise a few eyebrows because of Jackson's high-profile conversion to Islam. But the service worked on so many levels: memorial and entertainment, mourning and celebration, remembrance and farewell. And after a finale of "We Are the World" that featured a stage packed with performers, the Jackson family was alone onstage.Jermaine and Marlon lamented the loss of their brother, but it was Michael Jackson's daughter, Paris, who left the crowd -- and the world -- with the most moving words of the ceremony."Ever since I was born," she began, sobbing and barely mustering the strength to speak, "Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine. And I just want to say I love him so much."The wave of emotion washed over the room, with many audibly crying. It was an incredibly affecting end to an alternately somber and joyous day.

    The memorial service for singer Michael Jackson cost the city of Los Angeles $1.4 million, the mayor's office said Wednesday.Costs included putting extra police on the streets, trash pickup, sanitation, traffic control and more for the Tuesday event, spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said.Three thousand police officers -- almost one-third of the Los Angeles police force -- were on hand to ensure the Jackson events proceeded smoothly, Los Angeles Assistant Police Chief Jim McDonnell, said Tuesday.The city, which is $530 million in debt, set up a Web page asking Jackson fans to donate money to help with the expenses.On Tuesday morning, hundreds of donors contributed more than $17,000 through the Web site. But then, the high volume of traffic caused it to crash frequently and for long periods of time, the mayor's office said.The city, therefore, was unable to collect contributions for several hours on Tuesday. The site also crashed for 12 hours, beginning at 8 p.m. Tuesday -- and again, periodically throughout Wednesday morning, the office said.Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich does not want taxpayers to pay a penny for the service, his spokesman said Wednesday.The city attorney does not want something like this happening again, the city paying [the initial costs] for a private event," spokesman John Franklin said. "That's especially in a cash-strapped city, where people have been furloughed or even lost jobs."During the Los Angeles Lakers championship parade this year, nearly 2,000 police were called in, at a cost of $2 million. The Lakers and private donors reimbursed the city for most of the expenses.
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