LIVE: Online Coverage of Michael Jackson Memorial Broadcast

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

2:50 p.m. OK, reviewing what we learned today: Michael Jackson liked Kentucky Fried Chicken and the Three Stooges. Brooke Shields didn't want to hold his gloved hand when they went out. Berry Gordy Jr. kind of upstaged Smokey Robinson. But the moment we're going to see over and over? His heretofore unseen and unheard pre-teen daughter, Paris, call him "the best father you can ever imagine."

Time to rejoin the world. Hope nothing important happened in the last few hours. Thanks for watching along with me. Clutterland Ranch, out.

2:48 p.m. And we're done. No curtain calls.

2:47 p.m. "The King of Pop must bend his knee to the King of Kings," Pastor Lucius Smith says.

2:42 p.m. The casket is carried out and a spotlight shines on the microphone on the empty stage.

2:41 p.m. The most emotional moment of this whole thing, by far, is when daughter Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson chokes back tears as she says: "Ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father you can ever imagine. And I just wanted to say I love him so much." Aunt Janet Jackson hugs her.

2:39 p.m. Marlon asks Michael to give brother Brandon (Marlon's twin who died at birth) a hug for him.

2:35 p.m. Brother Marlon Jackson is overcome with emotion. Talks about watching "The Three Stooges" with Michael.

2:34 p.m. Brother Jermaine Jackson thanks everyone on behalf of the Jackson family.

2:38 p.m. The Rev. Jesse Jackson is among those swaying on stage.

2:28 p.m. Children enter stage holding hands for "Heal the World." Big picture of planet Earth on screen behind them in case you aren't sure which world we're being urged to heal. Those on stage who aren't part of the "This is It" company seem uncertain what they're supposed to be doing, although some to have discovered the lyrics are on a prompter.

2:25 p.m. It's "We are the World." Looks as though it's the dancers singing it. But the stage is filling up with the Jackson family (including Michael's rarely seen children) and those who performed earlier.

2:21 p.m. Choreographer Kenny Ortega says Shaheen Jafargholi -- yes, I double-checked the spelling -- was to have joined Jackson in his London shows. Then Ortega introduces a number that would have been featured in those 50 sold-out "This is It" shows.

2:18 p.m. Shaheen Jafargholi, a 12-year-old from Wales who gained a measure of fame as a finalist of "Britain's Got Talent," belts out "Who's Lovin' You."

2:13 p.m. Smokey Robinson, who wrote and recorded"Who's Lovin' You," comes back on stage to tell a variation of the story Berry Gordy Jr. already told about Michael doing the song better than Smokey did. "I love you, my brother," Smokey says.

2:12 p.m. Vintage video of Michael Jackson, then 11, and the Jackson 5 performing "Who's Lovin' You" on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

2:07 p.m. Usher performs "Gone Too Soon." He comes down off the stage to touch the coffin, and sings to it. Although he's wearing sunglasses, he seems to be crying at the end.

2 p.m. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) invokes Jackson song titles in her tribute to him, talks about his visits to Capitol Hill and Walter Reed Hospital. Slams critics and wants Michael Jackson honored as an American legend and musical icon.

1:52 p.m. Martin Luther King III, flanked by sister Bernice King, says Michael Jackson was the best at what he did.

1:47 p.m. Jermaine Jackson sings "Smile."

1:46 p.m. Brooke Shields says Michael Jackson's favorite song was "Smile," which was written by Charlie Chaplin. "Smile, though your heart is aching ..."

1:44 p.m. Some called Michael Jackson "The King." Brooke Shields says he always reminded her of "The Little Prince," and now she's reading from the book.

1:42 p.m. Brooke Shields tells a story of sneaking into Elizabeth Taylor's bedroom with Michael the night before one of Taylor's weddings. While Liz was sleeping. Is that fun or scary?

1:41 p.m. Shields: "His heart would burst out of him when he was laughing." Not sure that's best choice of words, in retrospect.

1:38 p.m. Brooke Shields is trying to keep emotion in check. She notes the press always referred to them as an odd couple when they went out together in public in the 1980s. "To us, it was the most natural and easiest of friendships ... two little kids having fun," she says.

1:33 p.m. John Mayer picks "Human Nature" on his electric guitar.

1:31 p.m. Sharpton to Jackson's children: "There was nothing strange about your daddy. It was strange what he had to deal with." Think Blanket buys it?

1:30 p.m. Sharpton: "Michael never stopped! Michael never stopped! Michael never stopped!"

1:25 p.m. The Rev. Al Sharpton speaks. He looks good. He's lost a lot of weight. "Michael never let the world turn him around from his dreams," he says. "It was that dream that changed culture all over the world. When Michael started, it was a different world. But because Michael kept going, becausehe didn't accept limitations, because he refused to let people decide his boundaries, he opened up the whole world."

1:24 p.m. Michael's words are heard -- "For you're always in my heart" -- heard in the song's bridge as a celestial scene is shown on screen.

1:21 p.m. Jennifer Hudson, wearing white, sings "Will You Be There." Paula Abdul would love it.

1:18 p.m. Magic Johnson says the greatest moment of his life was having Kentucky Fried Chicken with Michael Jackson. Original recipe or extra crispy?

1:15 p.m. Magic Johnson, whose retired Lakers number hangs from the rafters of the Staples Center, and Kobe Bryant, whose Lakers number someday will, talk about the MJ who isn't Michael Jordan. Magic says Michael was a Lakers season ticket holder and says Michael made him a better point guard.

1:06 p.m. Stevie Wonder says, "This is a moment that I wish that I didn't live to see come." He adds that "God must have needed him far more" than we did, then performs "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer."

1 p.m. Video montage of Michael as he would like to be remembered. We all know what that leaves out.

12:56 p.m. The Jacksons all seem to be wearing a single sparkly glove, a la Michael.

12:55 p.m. Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr. says Michael was like a son to him, tells a story about Michael singing "Who's Lovin' You." "Motown was built on love and competition, and sometimes the competition won got in the way of the love," Gordy says. "But the love always won out. We competed on everything."

12:54 p.m. A pleasant surprise is that the crowd doesn't seem to be going berserk. Polite applause after performances, but no standing ovations so far.

12:50 p.m. Lionel Richie performing "Jesus is Love."

12:45 p.m. Queen Latifah recalls that one of the first records she ever bought was "Dancing Machine" and does a robot move it inspired. Then she reads a poem by Maya Angelou, who has inspired many to do many things. But it's unlikely Ms. Angelou ever moved anyone to do a robot move.

12:39 p.m. Mariah Carey sings "I'll Be There," dressed in black -- sparkly but black. She's joined by Trey Lorenz, whose mike is slow to come on. Technical problems, aside, it's lovely.

12:36 p.m. Pastor Lucius Smith sets a somber tone.

12:34 p.m. The casket gets applause as it's brought out.

12:32 p.m. And we're back, with a gospel choir. "We are going to see the King ..."

12:27 p.m. Long pause continues.

12:22 p.m. "I don't mean to put down the wedding bands I've heard over the years," Gibson adds.

12:21 p.m. ABC's Charles Gibson said that listening to a wedding band mangle Michael Jackson's songs made you appreciate how good he was.

12:19 p.m. If this were actually a Michael Jackson concert, there wouldn't be this long gap between Smokey Robinson and whatever follows. There might be an announcement to turn off your cell phones and pagers, but you wouldn't send someone out on stage, like this.

12:16 p.m. CNN showing a handful of people in lawn chairs, watching its coverage on a big screen in New York's Times Square. Somehow Times Square doesn't seem like it has a Ravinia vibe.

12:15 p.m. Long pause.

12:11 p.m. Smokey Robinson is center stage reading letters from Diana Ross and Nelson Mandela. Katie Couric can't cut off an Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, so CBS joins in progress. NBC is a little late to join, too.

12:08 p.m. C-SPAN is carrying a Senate Environment Committee hearing on a climate change and energy bill? Don't people in Washington know the Jackson memorial is about to start? Priorties people.

11:57 a.m. I always love it when figures get tossed out like 1 billion viewers are watching. Doesn't seem likely. The total population of Earth is around 6.769 billion, and close to one-fourth is likely to be asleep at the moment. So you're talking about one in five people who are awake on the planet watching this?

11:45 a.m. Clutter reduced enough to see all four sets. Floor now a mess. Nothing interesting discovered, although there were a lot of unread magazines. We are, alas, down a TV. Power cord keeps cutting out on one. With luck, that will be the only casualty of the day.

11:36 a.m. “I remember when 'The King,' Elvis Presley died," Fox News Channel's Shepard Smith says. "They were bringing his funeral procession down Union Avenue in Memphis -- but I mean, nothing, nothing like this."

11:29 a.m. Traffic stopped on the freeway to make way for the slow-speed pursuit, er, procession.

11:20 a.m. Motorcade is on the move at Forest Lawn. Hearse does not have tinted glass on the side windows, so the casket can be seen inside.

11 a.m. Casket is being placed into a hearse. I don't imagine them hitting a lot of red lights.

10:47 a.m. Based on the fact that the Jackson family motorcade hasn't left Forest Lawn in the San Fernando Valley, the suspicion is that the memorial won't begin on time (around noon Chicago time) downtown at Staples Center.

10:44 a.m. Satellite trucks are apparently three deep outside Los Angeles' Staples Center. That's nothing compared to my desk.

10:27 a.m. Burbank Airport's air traffic control reports 19 helicopters hovering in the vicinity of Forest Lawn cemetery, according to report from one of the reporters in a helicopter hovering in the vicinity of Forest Lawn cemetery.

10:15 a.m. Just getting set up at the Clutterland Ranch, also known as my desk at work. I have four TVs set up here, but only 1 1/2 are visible at the moment. I will need to throw many things out before this thing starts. If I find anything interesting, like prescription drugs, I'll let you know. With luck, I'll beat TMZ with the news.

10 a.m. Much like election night and the Super Bowl, Michael Jackson's memorial service looks to be something of a media happening.

Just because umpteen networks will be carrying the event live doesn't mean every perspective will be taken into perspective. Mine, for instance. So the plan here is to live blog it, and add to the saturation coverage.


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