Eyes around the world focused on a sports arena in Los Angeles, as hundreds of thousands of fans and a throng of celebrities congregated for the final salute to the man known as the “King of Pop.”
Up to one billion people — one out of every seven souls on the planet — were expected to tune in Tuesday for the televised remembrance spectacle for Michael Jackson.
“As in Jackson’s life, Tuesday’s public memorial at the downtown Staples Center includes the spectacle surrounding the show — legal drama, screaming fans, star power, live worldwide broadcast, unsavory accusations, even a parade of elephants — all adding up to what could be the biggest celebrity send-off of all time,” Billboard magazine reported.
NewsHour special correspondent Jeffrey Kaye was in Los Angeles to report on the massive event. Here is his report, which aired on Tuesday’s NewsHour:
Here are extended interviews with some of the fans:
Among the stars expected to be involved in the memorial were Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Kobe Bryant, Jennifer Hudson, Smokey Robinson and Brooke Shields.
In Los Angeles, some 3,200 police officers were deployed — the most since the 1984 Olympics — to control a crowd that was predicted to swell to some 750,000 or even 1 million outside the arena.
Across the United States, more than 50 theaters opened their doors for a free broadcast for fans who couldn’t make it to Los Angeles.
During the height of Tuesday’s morning rush hour in L.A., police shut down portions of major freeways, including the 134 and the 110, to allow Jackson family members to attend a private ceremony at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills before the main event of the day.
LAPD Chief William Bratton said Jackson’s body would be at the Staples Center for the memorial service, the Los Angeles Times reported. Since the cost to the city is expected to top several million dollars, Bratton said police officers would be released from duty if things go smoothly outside the Staples Center.