I can’t decide what my favorite memory of the sensational Michael Jackson memorial is. I do know that it oozed class and that I want Jennifer Hudson to sing at my memorial, which I hope is not any time soon.
From the Oscar winner, who makes singing look so effortless, belting Will You Be There to Rev. Al Sharpton being at his best to Paris Michael Katherine Jackson speaking from her heart and reminding all of us that Michael was just “Daddy” to her to Jermaine Jackson’s teary-eyed rendition of Smile to the Andrae Crouch Choir singing We Are Going to See the King as the pallbearers wheeled in MJ’s exquisite casket to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s words (possibly meant for Rep. Peter King) to Marlon Jackson pulling himself together then making me cry (for the umpteenth time) to the Jackson concert singers reminding us what a humanitarian MJ was by dazzling us with We Are the World and Heal the World, today’s memorial was one that I won’t soon forget. Too bad I couldn’t get from Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, which I was assigned to cover for USA Today, down to the Staples Center in time to see it in person but it was just as fantastic on television. Yes, I know I should have asked Joe Jackson if I could ride in the family car but I refrained.
I chatted with Angela, my neighbor who invited me to be her +1 at the memorial, as soon as she got home and she told me how the Staples Center buzzed with energy. She was still jazzed up hours after it ended. We both agreed that Al was incredible. Why I can argue the validity of Al’s words to Michael’s three children, “Wasn’t nuthin’ strange about your daddy. It was strange what your daddy had to deal with,” there is no denying the power of his words during his nearly 7-minute sermon. I even jumped to my feet like I was in church. And didn’t you just love the way the Rev., after saying his final “Thank ya Michael!” quickly turned to his right and strode off the stage, like he knew he had nailed it?!
It would be nice if now we can let Michael rest in peace but that isn’t going to happen. Toxicology reports, Debbie Rowe, MJ’s business affairs and even the burial still loom. It’s my guess that the owners of Neverland are deciding whether to turn Neverland into another Graceland and have requested permission from the appropriate people to bury Michael at the place he loved so much. I know MJ said he never wanted to go back there but did that mean in his death too? Jermaine sure thinks it is the appropriate final resting place for his brother. When I lived in Italy, I interviewed Colony Capital honcho Thomas Barrack, the guy who bought the $23.9 million loan on Neverland a year ago, and he’s a helluva businessman. Just ask Forbes, which has him listed as one of the 400 wealthiest Americans. I interviewed him because he owns the oh-so-fabulous Costa Smeralda, a billionaire’s playground and where I was fortunate enough to visit a couple of times.
I read somewhere that it costs $10 mil a year to maintain Neverland, which Thomas saved from being sold at a public auction. (He co-owns the ranch with MJ.) I see that investment paying off big time for Colony Capital, known for buying undervalued assets and turning them into moneymakers. I also read somewhere that it takes about 30 days to get permission to bury someone in a backyard. I don’t know if paperwork has been filed but I can see it happening. What’s unclear though is where MJ is until then. Don’t let this turn into a Where’s Waldo circus.
At Forest Lawn, I had a chance to catch up with Shaun Robinson of Access Hollywood and Kevin Frazier of Entertainment Tonight. Gawd, I look fat next to Shaun! Should crop but will let it go this time.
The media was out in full force at Forest Lawn.
The family car leaves Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills and heads to the Staples Center.
The hearse carrying Michael Jackson’s body followed the family car. It was sad watching it go by.