/ 7 July 2009

Stars lined up for Jackson memorial

Some of the biggest names in pop music, from singers Mariah Carey and Stevie Wonder to Motown records founder Berry Gordy, will take part in Michael Jackson’s memorial on Tuesday, the family said.

In the first official details of the public memorial in the Staples Centre arena in downtown Los Angeles, Jackson’s family said singers Usher and Lionel Richie, civil rights leader Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, and basketball stars Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant would also be among the participants.

The statement from the family said the list was preliminary, subject to change and that there would be no further information on the programme. It was not clear whether singers like Carey and Wonder would perform at the event, which is expected to last two hours.

Lawyers for Jackson’s ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, said she had decided against attending because ”her attendance would be an unnecessary distraction”. Rowe has not decided whether to challenge the family for custody of Jackson’s three children.

Actress Elizabeth Taylor, one of Jackson’s closest friends, will also be absent. Taylor said in a Twitter message on Monday that she had been asked to speak but ”I cannot be part of the public whoopla. And I cannot guarantee that I would be coherent to say a word. I just don’t believe that Michael would want me to share my grief with millions of others,” she wrote.

While about 18 000 people will attend the memorial, police expect hundreds of thousands of fans to converge on the area. And officials estimate that beefed up public security and cleaning could cost the cash-strapped city up to $2,5-million.

About 1,6-million people registered to be among the 8 750 to receive two free tickets to the event. Successful fans lined up on Monday to collect their tickets, although some tried to auction their vouchers on websites like eBay and Craigslist.

Both websites were swiftly removing the listings, which carried asking prices of up to $10 000.

The Thriller singer, who died on June 25 of cardiac arrest at age 50, is expected to be buried in a private family service in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning, ahead of the public memorial.

Multimillion dollar estate
As the family and lawyers attempted to sort out Jackson’s complex business and personal affairs, a Los Angeles judge on Monday took temporary control of his estate away from the singer’s mother, Katherine Jackson, and handed it to two men named as co-executors in the pop star’s 2002 will.

Katherine Jackson (79) had won temporary control of his estate last week before the will surfaced.

But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff said ”the law compels” that he now put lawyer John Branca and music industry executive John McClain in charge temporarily.

Beckloff set another court hearing for August 3 and said Branca and McClain must keep Katherine Jackson apprised of their dealings.

In the 2002 will, Jackson left his estate, valued at more than $500-million, to a trust benefiting his three children, his mother and charities.

”We are relatively pleased with Judge Beckloff’s ruling this morning. He’s taken the unusual step of requiring that Ms Jackson be kept informed of the administration of his estate in this preliminary phase,” said Burt Levitch, an attorney for Katherine Jackson.

A separate hearing over the guardianship of Michael Jackson’s children has been postponed until July 13. In the meantime, Katherine Jackson has been named temporary guardian of Prince Michael Jackson Jr (12), Paris Michael Katherine Jackson (11) and Prince Michael Joseph Jackson, II (7).

An attorney for Branca and McClain said they would carry out the pop star’s wishes and maximise his estate’s value.

The value remains an open question. Although the 2002 will valued Michael Jackson’s holdings at more than $500-million, the singer was reported to be as much as $500-million in debt when he died unexpectedly.

Jackson owned one-half of Sony-ATV, which controls a music catalogue that includes songs from the Beatles and has been valued as high as $1-billion. Jackson also owned a company that controlled the rights to music he recorded during his solo career, and its value is expected to rise over time. – Reuters