By Gabriel Bouys, AP, pool photo
A large image of Michael Jackson appears at his memorial service as his brother Jermaine sings.
At Jackson Memorial, Tears, Cheers And 'I Love You, Michael'
By Maria Puente, USA TODAY
LOS ANGELES — His was a tumultuous life and a chaotic death, but Michael Jackson's funeral and memorial Tuesday were orderly and celebratory, moving and bittersweet, as family, friends and fans around the world joined in lamenting the loss of the King of Pop.
It was one of the most-watched celebrity sendoffs in history, telecast across multiple channels and streamed across the Internet. But the predicted traffic and crowd-control nightmares did not materialize. Thousands of police officers helped keep the ticketless crowd to a minimum — about 1,000 people vs. the 250,000 feared — and the motorcade with Jackson's hearse encountered few problems traveling blocked-off freeways to downtown.
The goodbye to Jackson started early with a private service for family and close friends at Forest Lawn in the Hollywood Hills. (A crash was heard as drivers slowed to watch the procession leave the cemetery).
A star-crowded memorial program followed, at the downtown Staples Center, that was spiritual, smoothly entertaining and jubilantly roof-raising as Jackson was hailed as a superstar and humanitarian.
GALLERY: The world bids farewell to an icon
VIDEO: Watch the memorial again
THE FANS: An unforgettable day for thousands
ON STAGE: Some memorable moments
"The King of Pop has gone to meet the King of Kings," intoned the Rev. Lucious Smith, pastor of the Friendship Baptist Church in Pasadena.
It was a day filled with touching moments, perhaps the most poignant when Jackson's daughter, Paris, 11, took the microphone. "I just want to say ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you can ever imagine. And I just wanted to say I love him so much," she said, breaking into tears.
That followed two hours of farewell tributes from musicians, athletes and friends of Michael Joseph Jackson, who died suddenly June 25 at age 50.
The crowd of 20,000 was alternately reverent and boisterous. They watched in solemn silence as the likes of Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie and Mariah Carey sang sweetly, and older brother Jermaine crooned Smile, the theme from Charlie Chaplin's classic film Modern Times. Usher sang Jackson's sadly prescient Gone Too Soon as he caressed the golden casket spotlighted in front of the stage and draped in flowers.
But when Kobe Bryant walked in, many jumped to their feet and started cheering and taking pictures; some reached over for high-fives. They cheered loud approval for the Rev. Al Sharpton's fiery eulogy and laughed at a story Magic Johnson told about fried chicken. And they snapped photos with phones and rained shout-outs of "I love you, Michael!" during lulls.
Singer Akon told USA TODAY that he worked with Jackson in the studio recently and that Jackson was hoping to release another album. Its concept would have been "a righteous movement to bring the people of the world together. It would have been songs with positive messages."
Akon said Jackson's mood was similarly upbeat. "Any time he was around music, he was happy. Music was his sanctuary." Jackson's children were in the studio, helping to lift his spirits.
Other celebrities in the crowd: Cicely Tyson; P. Diddy; Rick, Kathy and Nicky Hilton; Lil Kim; Chris Brown; and Tatum O'Neal.
Diana Ross and Nelson Mandela sent messages. Also absent: Jackson's longtime pal Elizabeth Taylor, who said in a Twitter post she couldn't bear to be part of the public hoopla, and Debbie Rowe, Jackson's ex-wife and mother of Jackson's two oldest children.
Outside the Staples Center, the mood was festive. Vendors hawked T-shirts, buttons, photos and other memorabilia.
"I just think he is an amazing artist and talent, so (this) is a one-of-a-kind experience," said Heidi Golledge, 39, who came with daughter Lauren, 12, from Ladera Ranch, Calif., wearing matching white fedoras.
Dozens of fans had congregated earlier in the day at the Encino family compound as well, some with T-shirts and signs that said "Michael 4ever" and "You are not alone." They gathered along Hayvenhurst Avenue to watch as the family left in a phalanx of Bentleys, Range Rovers and Escalades.
Meghan Romero, 47, of Bakersfield, Calif., said she drove with husband Albert to Encino when she didn't win tickets. "They were saying that you couldn't see anything downtown, so we took our chances here," she says. "I grew up on Michael. I have to say goodbye somehow."
As the memorial service ended, Jackson's three children and eight siblings — his brothers were all wearing one beaded white glove in his honor — gathered onstage to say thanks. "We will never understand what he endured ... being judged, ridiculed," said brother Marlon, choking up. "Maybe, now, Michael, they will leave you alone."
The Rev. Smith closed by noting: "All around us are people of different cultures, different religions, different nationalities. And yet the music of Michael Jackson brings us together."
After the memorial, the family went to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel for a private reception. It was unclear whether Jackson's casket would be returned to Forest Lawn for burial or taken to another final resting place.
Contributing: Arienne Thompson, Scott Bowles, Kelley L. Carter, Kelly Carter, Edna Gundersen, Bill Keveney, William M. Welch, Chris Woodyard and The Associated Press
'I Love Him So Much': Paris Jackson's Heartfelt Goodbye
By Bryan Alexander TIME
Mariah Carey's voice cracked in emotion during "I'll Be There." Brooke Shields broke down recalling Michael Jackson as the Little Prince. Even Usher took off his sunglasses, revealing how pained he was by the sight of Michael Jackson's brilliant gold casket on the floor of the Staples Center.
But the most indelible moment in the 2½-hr. memorial ceremony was the sight of Jackson's daughter Paris on the podium. The 11-year-old unexpectedly took the microphone and spoke for the first time to a worldwide audience, bidding her father farewell. (See pictures of people around the world mourning Jackson.)
"I just wanted to say, ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine," she said. "And I just wanted to say I love him so much."
With that the sobbing girl fell into the arms of her aunt Janet Jackson. Many of the 21,000 audience members audibly choked back tears. Some wept. (See pictures of places to honor Jackson's memory.)
"It broke me down," said Cynthia Moutin, 43, from Fremont, Calif. "When Paris spoke, when she called him 'Daddy' — that was the last straw."
"I've never seen a girl love her daddy as much as Paris loved Michael," longtime Jackson collaborator Kenny Ortega told TIME, speaking about the emotional moment. "It wasn't planned. She was also his No. 1 fan. And it came through there." (See TIME's top 10 Michael Jackson moments.)
Michael's three children, who sat just feet away from his casket, have been the subject of intense curiosity and mystery throughout their short lives. The sons and daughter of the world's most intriguing and often bizarre performer, even their exact origins are a mystery. Before today, they have almost always worn masks or veils in the rare times they have been photographed.
But to the surprise of the memorial organizers, the children took front-row seats at an event broadcast live on every major network as well as around the world. And Paris' words made it abundantly clear that Jackson — a controversial subject in life and in death — was also someone's beloved father. (Hear TIME's top 10 Michael Jackson songs.)
Randy Phillips, CEO of promoter AEG Live, was directing events offstage when Paris took the microphone. "I lost it," he told TIME afterward. "I almost short-circuited my walkie-talkie crying into it. That made the whole thing personal."
"I didn't even know they were coming," said Ortega. "That surprised me. It was wonderful that the family felt they had the strength to get through this."
While the stage cameras kept away from the children, most eyes in the auditorium were fixed on the three in the front row next to their grandparents Katherine and Joe Jackson. Seven-year-old Prince Michael II, known as Blanket, held a Michael Jackson doll. Eldest son Michael Joseph Jr., 12, held the memorial program and chewed gum vigorously. Paris kept close to her grandmother.
The Rev. Al Sharpton addressed the children directly, after a surprisingly stirring speech on Jackson's cultural and race-relations impact that had the audience on its feet cheering. "There wasn't anything strange about your dad," he said, moving his eyes to the three. "What was strange was what he had to deal with." The children applauded along with the rest of the crowd.
Such moments of poignancy were there from the moment Jackson was carried into the auditorium, in a flower-draped casket on the backs of his brothers, to the sounds of stirring gospel music. While the casket appearance was not a total surprise, the effect on the audience was one of awe. Before a voice shouted, "I love you, Michael," the auditorium was positively still.
There were odd moments as well: acts, including the final number, that didn't work and unexplained delays. In fact, the family's private ceremony at Forest Lawn kept the televised world waiting half an hour past schedule. "I probably lost two inches of height over that [delay]," Phillips said.
But in the end, the memorial hit more right notes than wrong. "I gauge it from the reactions I got looking at the front row and looking into the rafters and seeing the fans," said Ortega. "I felt like we got a little closure today. We remembered our boy."
There was very little time to reflect once the lights went up after the ceremony. Ushers gently directed the audience to exits as black bunting was pulled from Velcro rail attachments. Scores of Staples Center workers snapped up folding chairs. The memorial set gave way to the Ringling Bros. Circus, with a new spotlight scheduled to go on in just a few hours. The circus elephants had been walked into holding facilities in the arena earlier in the morning, before the first memorial ticket holder was let in.
"Michael Jackson, if anyone, would have loved the irony of that," Phillips said.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The extravagant mourning for Michael Jackson has some critics wondering whether the pop singer's global superstardom could ever be duplicated in an Internet era offering endless entertainment choices. Jackson's sudden June 25 death caused an outpouring of praise for the singer, whose 1982 "Thriller" album is the best-selling of all time with estimated sales of 50 million copies. In death, Jackson's personal scandals no longer seemed so important to his fans and those caught up in the moment.
"In the world of YouTube, no one could occupy the worldwide effect of Michael Jackson's 'Thriller,'" said Jonathan Taplin, a University of Southern California professor. "I was scouting a movie for Walt Disney in 1983 in Congo, Gabon and Ivory Coast. All you heard on the radio was Michael Jackson," said Taplin, a former television and film producer. The Internet has joined the world together in new ways and can elevate unknowns to stardom in an instant, as illustrated by Susan Boyle, the dowdy British singer who shot from obscurity to international fame when her performance on a British talent show was posted on YouTube. But such fame is fleeting and one Internet sensation is quickly replaced by another. "There will be thousands of Susan Boyles, but no Michael Jacksons or The Beatles," Taplin said. Before the emergence of cable TV and then the Internet, tens of millions of people regularly tuned into the same hit shows at the same time.
Now, the Internet has flooded the world with choice and diluted audiences. Dubbed the "King of Pop," Jackson, 50, sang with his brothers in the "Jackson 5" before achieving solo stardom with hits like "Billie Jean" and "Beat It," which he promoted with boundary breaking videos on cable music video network MTV. JACKSON WOULD FIND IT HARDER But MTV no longer plays hours of prime time music videos and the Internet allows anyone to post songs and videos online. The New York Times's David Segal wrote that this probably spelled the end of fame on the level achieved by Jackson. "That's why even Michael Jackson would have a hard time becoming Michael Jackson these days," he wrote. "There is something sad about our infinite menu of options. It could very well mean the end of true superstardom." Jackson won 13 Grammy Awards and during his lifetime sold an estimated 750 million albums. But although he was poised to attempt a comeback, his best years appeared far behind him when he died. In recent years, he won more headlines for his bizarre behavior and in fighting off sexual abuse charges than for his music.
Susan Ohmer, who teaches modern communication at the University of Notre Dame, likened Jackson's fame to that of Britain's Princess Diana, saying that while people may not have known the real Jackson or Diana, the personas they portrayed on camera captured the world's attention. "Michael Jackson came of age when music was becoming more international," Ohmer said "Like Princess Diana, his style and movements seemed to come alive on camera." Robert Thompson, professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, said it would be more difficult for another global icon to be created in a "fragmented era of modern technology," -- but still possible. "The Internet has allowed a new route to fame," Thompson said. "But becoming truly famous is still something that happens very rarely." Thompson and Ohmer both pointed to U.S. President Barack Obama as one of the world's new icons, but based on a record of political achievement and real intellectual power rather than songs and dance moves.
"In any new medium, stars emerge," Ohmer said. "Celebrities become global icons because they interact with media in ways that fascinate the public and because they speak to us in some way about our lives and times."
(Editing by Mark Egan and Alan Elsner)