Michael Jackson memorial set for Tuesday

A public memorial for pop star Michael Jackson took shape on Thursday when a concert backer and family spokesperson said the event would take place next week, even as doubt lingered over the guardianship of the singer’s children.

The pop star’s former wife, Debbie Rowe, told a Los Angeles TV station she wanted to care for her two children with Jackson, but her attorney said her words were distorted and a court hearing over custody was delayed by one week.

A public memorial for Jackson, who died suddenly last week, will be held on Tuesday in Los Angeles, and about 11 000 tickets will be given away free of charge for the 20 000-seat Staples Centre arena, said concert promoter AEG Live and family representative, Sunshine Sachs & Associates.

The pair said in a statement issued late on Thursday the memorial was set for 2pm GMT at the rock concert and sporting venue in downtown Los Angeles, and that further details would be unveiled on Friday morning.

AEG Live is part of a group of companies that controls events at the Staples Centre.

Jackson’s death on June 25 after suffering cardiac arrest at his rented Los Angeles mansion has provoked worldwide tributes from fans and musicians and sent many of his records back into the top of music charts.

Meanwhile Rowe—the mother of Jackson’s two eldest children, Prince Michael Jackson Jnr (12) and Paris Michael Katherine Jackson (11)—appeared to set the stage for a legal tussle with Jackson’s parents over their future.

“I want my children,” Rowe was quoted as telling NBC4 television in Los Angeles.

But her lawyer, Eric George, told reporters on Thursday that Rowe was still considering her position.

“I am representing to you now, Debbie has not reached a final decision concerning the pending custody proceedings,” George said.

‘Distortion of the truth’
“I have no reason to doubt that what was reported from that conversation was accurately and ethically recorded, but that said, it would be a distortion of the truth to allow that single snapshot of a single conversation to stand as the truth of Debbie’s position,” he said. A court hearing on guardianship originally set for July 6 has been changed to July 13.

Temporary guardianship was granted earlier this week to Jackson’s 79-year-old mother, Katherine Jackson. A 2002 will signed by Jackson specifically cut Rowe out of his estate and asked that his mother take care of the children.

Jackson did not mention his funeral wishes in that will.

The Staples Centre is the site of the singer’s last rehearsals for a planned 50-concert comeback tour in London that was due to start on July 13 and was backed by AEG Live.

Video clips of a rehearsal two nights before he died, which showed Jackson looking thin but performing more like his old superstar self, were released to CNN on Thursday.

An official autopsy has been performed but toxicology tests won’t be ready for weeks.
Results of a private autopsy by a Jackson family doctor have not been released.

Law enforcement sources said the US Drug Enforcement Administration had been asked to help Los Angeles police in their investigation. Several bags of medicines have already been removed from Jackson’s house by coroner’s officials.

Speculation has swirled in the media that the 50-year-old pop star was abusing prescription drugs and perhaps intravenous drugs before the comeback concerts this month in London.

His brother, Jermaine, said on Thursday that reports of Michael Jackson’s possible drug use had hurt his family.

“Michael has always been a person who was against anything like that ... But in this business the pressures and things that you go through, you never know what one turn[s] to,” Jermaine said on NBC’s Today show.—Reuters

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