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Michael Jackson Remembered.....Review from Variety

In case you were at work....

Michael Jackson Memorial Service

Fans, friends pay tribute to the King of Pop


Presented by AEG. Reviewed July 7, 2009.
Live from Staples Center; 20,000 seats; free distribution by lottery from a pool of 1.6 million
Performers: Ron Boyd, Kobe Bryant, Mariah Carey, Andrae Crouch Choir, Berry Gordy, Jennifer Hudson, Shaheen Jafargholi, Magic Johnson, Martin Luther King III, Bernice A. King, John Mayer, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Brooke Shields, Pastor Lucious Smith, Usher and Stevie Wonder.

There was Elvis, there was John Lennon, there was Princess Diana and now there's Michael Jackson, the first celebrity to inspire global paroxysms of grief in the 21st century. Measured by his media coverage as well as his posthumous legal and medical issues, not to mention his mourning and desperate fans, it's possible that Jackson has topped them all. Jackson spokesperson Ken Sunshine said he hoped the service's lottery-based ticket distribution would be conducted with "dignity," a wish that might seem far-fetched for an event conducted in a space that would next host the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. However, while Tuesday morning's service was a spectacle, it also offered no shortage of sorrow, genuine emotion and, yes, dignity.

In a testament to the tight time frame necessary to assemble this event since its July 3 announcement, the morning wasn't without its glitches. As the first speaker at 10:10 am, Smokey Robinson appeared to jump the gun. After reading statements of sympathy from Diana Ross and Nelson Mandela, Robinson returned to his seat and the arena fell quiet for long minutes, silent enough to hear the purr of the a/c system.

Finally, as a choir filed onstage at 10:33 am, the Jackson family walked into the arena. With them were Michael Jackson's pallbearers, who wheeled in an enormous gold-plated casket covered in roses. Given the ornate presentation, it was a moment that could have threatened to tip the service into the baroque. Instead, the casket served as a valid reminder of what and who had been lost.

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