Deaths | Diana Ross | Janet Jackson | Los Angeles | Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson Memorial Notes


Stage In loose order, some highlights from the service for Michael Jackson held today at L.A.'s Staples Center, which might very well go down in HIStory as the most-watched broadcast of all time. I thought it was more reserved and tasteful than it might have been:

 roadAlong with Elizabeth Taylor, Quincy Jones and Liza Minnelli, Diana Ross also bowed out of participating.

 roadThe entire highway was shut down to facilitate the transport of Jackson's body and the arrival of a fleet of A-listers. This was the largest public event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympics.

Janet  roadJackson's brothers were wearing his trademark single gloves. Sister Janet cut a striking figure of grief alongside her parents.

 roadFans were not above shouting out, "I love you Michael!" and other things through any lulls in the program.

 roadCorey Feldman arrived dressed like his former friend, just like he did when he was an adolescent.

 roadMariah Carey performed an emotional (or overwrought, depending on your taste) version of "I'll Be There." Will she be able to get away with releasing this version as a single?

 roadJohn Mayer, who had nothing to do with Jackson, performed a mostly instrumental version of "Human Nature."


 roadJennifer Hudson belted out "Will You Be There," which ended with a haunting use of a recording of Jackson's own voice. This and Stevie Wonder's performance of "I Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer" and "They Won't Go When I Go" might be among the program's artistic highlights.

 roadThe Rev. Al Sharpton's short eulogy proclaimed that Jackson had broken the color barrier, paving the way for Oprah Winfrey's and Barack Obama's success and said, "I want his children to know—wasn't nothing strange about your daddy. It was strange what your daddy had to deal with."

SafariScreenSnapz001  roadThe Rev. Bernice King—daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and an avowed foe of marriage equality—spoke alongside her brother Martin Luther King III at the memorial, focusing on the healing power of his music when her mother, Coretta Scott King, was in ill health.

SafariScreenSnapz002  roadGay-friendly Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), stating she represented the House in appearing and expressing her condolences and promoting a bill to recognize Michael Jackson's humanitarian contributions, strongly made the point that everyone in this country is innocent until proven guilty, an unusual reference to legal controversies that dogged Jackson.

SafariScreenSnapz003  roadFollowing an alternately raw, sad and funny remembrance by Brooke Shields, Jermaine Jackson delivered a surprisingly touching take on Charlie Chaplin's "Smile," which was covered by his brother in 1995.

 roadUsher offered up his version of the prophetic "Gone Too Soon."

 roadDirector and collaborator Kenny Ortega presented a (maudlin, if I may) performance of "We Are the World" from the This Is It comeback show as performed by the show's troupe. (A blonde, white female sang Michael Jackson's part from the original song.) As the song progressed, Smokey Robinson (who'd spoken of his respect and affection for Jackson), sister LaToya and other celebrities joined did his grieving children.

SafariScreenSnapz005  roadThe final number in the concert memorial was "Heal the World," complete with another stageful of children.

 roadThe moment everyone will be talking about: Jackson's emotional 11-year-old daughter closed the service by saying, "I just wanted to say, ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine...and I just wanted to say I love him so much," before burying her face in Aunt Janet's arms.

 roadLos Angeles is asking citizens to donate money to "help give Michael the world class memorial he deserves."

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  1. I'm going to throw a brick through the television if I hear another word about Michael Jackson. What does "the latest on Michael Jackson's death" mean? "Still dead?"

    Posted by: Butch | Jul 7, 2009 4:13:13 PM

  2. I'm disappointed. I was hoping it would end with the coffin opening, Michael emerging dressed in a zombie costume, and Thriller beginning to play on the speakers.

    It would have been the greatest prank ever.

    Posted by: crispy | Jul 7, 2009 4:24:12 PM

  3. First -- the WORST EVER was Mariah showing off with her hand in the air -- "look at me! look at me!" -- a camera hog and phoney!

    Second -- M.J. was NOT the "savior of the world" as so many said.... He was perhaps the GREATEST pop star of his generation, but not God. In his later years (after 1990??) what did he do but bring shame to his name -- not by the charges (he was found innocent, but so was OJ!) -- but by his statements themselves regarding sleeping with children. But he was NOT "GOD"... now let him and us go in peace.

    Posted by: WizardBoy | Jul 7, 2009 4:24:39 PM

  4. crispy

    too soon

    but lol

    Posted by: jimmyboyo | Jul 7, 2009 4:28:15 PM

  5. I'm not a MJ fan but you hatters need to stop. The worst part is that three children lost their father, the only parent they've ever known. My heart breaks for them.

    Posted by: Paul | Jul 7, 2009 4:34:58 PM

  6. Its funny how we as gay people are constantly asking to be respected and not judged, even if you don't agree with us, but we are SO quick to throw all that out the window.

    Give the guy and his family and children their day and be silent in your judgements.

    Posted by: Brent | Jul 7, 2009 4:41:52 PM

  7. I know that my post is going to draw nothing but the ire of this board, but so be it:

    The deification of Michael Jackson has reached levels that I find absolutely outrageous. I always thought he was wildly overrated in life, but that didn't even begin to touch the rapturous praise he has received in death. And why, I ask?

    Yes, I know...'Thriller' is the best selling album of all time. But take a look at the ten albums that are just below 'Thriller' in terms of sales: You'll notice they include albums by Backstreet Boys, Bee Gees, Meat Loaf and the soundtrack from the movie 'Dirty Dancing'. That is hardly a list of fine musicianship if you ask me.

    As for the remainder of Jackson's discography, most of it is forgettable and not exactly critically acclaimed with the exception of 'Off the Wall' (released in 1979), 'Bad' (released 1987) and Dangerous (released 1991). If you throw in HIStory (released in 1995), a dubious decision in my opinion, given that the first disc is merely a 'greatest hits' album while a quarter of the second disc features songs written by other artists, you'll see that Jackson hasn't released anything that was critically acclaimed in 14 years (18 years if you nix HIStory from the list)!

    And apparently the title of the King of Pop is no longer good enough because Berry Gordy stated that Jackson is "the greatest entertainer that ever lived". I wonder if Mr. Gordy has ever heard of John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Marvin Gaye, Prince, Mick Jagger, Cher, David Bowie, Elton John, James Brown or a woman named 'Madonna'? I also wonder how much Berry Gordy stands to make off of his statement given that continued sales of Jackson's Motown era albums will surely line Gordy's pockets?

    Finally, as a resident of Los Angeles, I'm offended that the City of Los Angeles is requesting donations to defray the cost of Jackson's memorial service. Let the Jackson family pay for! Jackson made hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars off sales of albums, concert tickets and memorabilia. Why on earth should the rest of us be asked to pitch in?

    Posted by: peterparker | Jul 7, 2009 5:04:03 PM

  8. Brent: We as gay people are being asked to not be judged for things we have no control over, our sexuality. And we will not judge others based on their gender, sexuality, or race.

    But I reserve the right to mock and disdain a man who most likely molested young boys. All this puffery is so out of proportion to his actaul accomplishmentsm, and the networks seem to be just whitewashing over the serious and credible allegations o f child molestation.

    Posted by: paul | Jul 7, 2009 5:06:27 PM

  9. One more thing: I've heard it said that Michael Jackson 'broke the color barrier' between white Americans and black Americans. I'd say that distinction belongs to a man known as The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Posted by: peterparker | Jul 7, 2009 5:07:52 PM

  10. Damnit, i will say it again, there are some HEARTLESS ASS people on this site. How in HELL can we expect understand and respect from homophobes, when some of us can't even show respect for others. If you can't say anything nice about Michael Jackson, then don't say a GODDAMN THING at all.

    Posted by: sonnie | Jul 7, 2009 5:12:57 PM

  11. "First -- the WORST EVER was Mariah showing off with her hand in the air -- "look at me! look at me!" -- a camera hog and phoney!"

    The sad thing is, her hand hits the notes but her voice doesn't.

    And, Brent, please . . . one can respect Michael Jackson's significance as an entertainer without buying into the media orgy that has surrounded his death. Even my 84 year old (and straight, as far as I know) mother has said if Larry King devotes one more hour to this she'll throw her TV out the window. Should we be jailed and forever stripped of civil rights for the crime of cattiness? I'm guessing neither Michael nor his children are going to be devastated by comments on Towleroad.

    Posted by: Ernie | Jul 7, 2009 5:16:20 PM

  12. Everything else aside, it sickens me that the City of Los Angeles would ask ordinary citizens to 'pitch in' to help cover the cost of his funeral services. It just goes to show how, tacky, materialistic and self-centered the Jackson Family and those who profited from his misplaced largesse are.

    Couldn't someone else or, at the very least, his 'close friends' (Quincy Jones, Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Ross, an Arab Sheik) get together and cover this cost so that California taxpayers, who weren't invited and couldn't even attend, don't have to foot this bill? Such effrontery...

    Posted by: P | Jul 7, 2009 5:22:44 PM

  13. I could go into a litany of observations. Here are just some...

    First, having someone as divisive as Al Sharpton give a eulogy is even further reason to steer clear of all this hoopla.

    Second, they say broke the race barrier about so many people...James Brown, Diana Ross, Sidney Poitier. It is becoming a tired catchphrase.

    Third, I resent MJ getting so much attention when an icon like Farrah Fawcett was regulated to the back pages. She never became a recluse like he did and battled a brave fight against cancer. And one can argue that Micheal Jackson has not had hits in years and years. Cher ("Beleive"), Madonna, Elton John...all have stayed on the charts much longer.

    I like Michael Jackson and his music. Yes, he was one of the bestselling acts of all time. I am not saying he was bad guy. Strange, yes. I have no animosity towards him. But all this press coverage is just really, really overdone.

    Posted by: Andy | Jul 7, 2009 5:30:01 PM

  14. I think the donations are brilliant. The city of LA might make it's annual budget.

    Killing off pop stars could just be the solution to our economic crisis.

    Posted by: crispy | Jul 7, 2009 5:32:02 PM

  15. RIP Michael Jackson, under-appreciated in life, over-sanctified in death. The world will know no such individual as yourself.

    Posted by: 7SK | Jul 7, 2009 5:34:02 PM

  16. I just hope that one day his children can forgive him for thinking more about sleeping using a drug that made him stop breathing than he thought about them. I wonder if his last thoughts before he let that killer drug drip into his arm was that he would never see his children again, and that the last time they would see him would be to see his lifeless body on an ER gurney with a tube in down his throat.

    Posted by: Jessica Naomi | Jul 7, 2009 5:35:59 PM

  17. I loved Thriller and much of his work prior to that album, so that's the Michael I will remember. His latter work, sans a single here and there, didn't do much for me and his personal life personally frightened me.

    As for the memorial, Mariah should have bowed out, she was dreadful. Stevie Wonder was amazing as always. I always think of my brother who passed away when I hear that song -Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer, so it was a fitting tribute indeed. My condolences to the family grieving a son and sibling. To lose a parent is heartbreaking but expected in the scheme of things. To lose a child or brother too early is a grief that's hard to comprehend unless you've had the misfortune to experience it.

    But even in death, the media frenzy will continue. I only hope it moves from prime time to Inside Edition and TMZ to stay real soon. It's garish.

    Posted by: Marco | Jul 7, 2009 5:38:01 PM

  18. Just to clarify...My comment was directed at the media's breathless, overdone, endless coverage and lack of perspective (North Korea firing missiles? Iran? Health care? Nah, all Michael Jackson all the time), not at the man.

    Posted by: Butch | Jul 7, 2009 5:42:37 PM


    Posted by: GINO | Jul 7, 2009 5:50:50 PM

  20. What a bunch of schoolmarms! Have you never seen a spectacle before?? What did you expect to happen?
    Here's a tip. Turn off the stupid television and do something else for a change

    Posted by: hall | Jul 7, 2009 6:08:53 PM

  21. @Paul: you are mad about the "hatters"? Well, hatters are usually mad already--I read it in "Alice in Wonderland." So your work is done.

    Posted by: Thomasina | Jul 7, 2009 6:43:45 PM

  22. I was not a fan and I really couldn't care less about Michael Jackson, but his daughter's words broke my heart. It was the most honest sentiment anyone has ever said about him.

    Posted by: Rob | Jul 7, 2009 6:49:39 PM

  23. Cremate the creep and dump the ashes on Bernice King's head.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jul 7, 2009 7:30:17 PM

  24. I think the over-hyped nature of MJ's death was illustrated perfectly today when the "anticipated" crowd of 250,000 turned out to be only about 1,000.

    As for the service itself, it seemed like an odd mismash of memorial and tribute concert that couldn't decide what it wanted to be. And given the lengths that Jackson went to keep his children out of the media all these years I had to wonder if he would have really wanted them dragged onstage like that.

    Posted by: e.c. | Jul 7, 2009 7:45:31 PM

  25. Why is this thread here?

    Posted by: Kyle Sullivan | Jul 7, 2009 7:46:40 PM

  26. 1 2 »

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