Jackson Family Arrives at Forest Lawn, Body Will Be At Staples Center
A public memorial for the pop star will be held at Staples Center today
Forest Lawn Memorial (KTLA-TV)
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Numerous vehicles under California Highway Patrol escort headed out from the parents' home in Encino shortly before 8 a.m. and arrived some 15 minutes later.
The body of Michael Jackson will be transported to Staples Center for today's public memorial service.
Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton has confirmed that the King of Pop's casket will be taken to the memorial in downtown Los Angeles. A heavy motorcade with the LAPD's SWAT team is expected to escort the coffin. There's also said to be a contingency plan to helicopter the body to Staples if any safety issues arise.
It was not immediately known whether fans would be able to view Jackson's body.
The memorial is slated to begin at 10 a.m. local time with a lucky group of some 8,750 fans who each won two free tickets to watch the event in person. Some will view the event on a big screen at the nearby Nokia Theatre.
Despite being told they have no chance of getting in, many fans without tickets are still flooding the area to pay their final respects and witness history in the making.
All major networks are broadcasting the event live. Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. has also arranged to broadcast the service live at 88 movie theaters across the country, including in Los Angeles, Monrovia and Tulare. For a list of the theater locations, visit: www.cinedigm.com
The memorial is shaping up to be the largest celebrity send-off in entertainment history.
Police are out in full force -- even more so than the 1984 Olympics and the recent championship celebration for the Los Angeles Lakers at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, according to the LAPD.
Some 3,200 Los Angeles police officers were being deployed for the day's events in an effort to control crowds in and around Staples Center.
The event is expected to cost the city nearly $4 million.
The city started its fiscal year July 1, and the city budget includes money for unanticipated events such as celebrity funerals, according to LAPD Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell.
McDonnell called crowd control the city's responsibility, but said "if anyone steps up who wants to defray the costs, they're welcome to do so."
A private funeral service was expected to be held for Jackson at Forest Lawn in the Hollywood Hills prior to the public service. It's believed he will be laid to rest at Forest Lawn.
No details of the service have been released and the family has not confirmed the location, but police and Caltrans have announced street and freeway ramp closures in the area.
Caltrans will close the eastbound Riverside Drive offramp from the Ventura (134) Freeway, along with the eastbound and westbound Forest Lawn Drive offramps. Forest Lawn Drive will be closed between the freeway and Barham Boulevard from 6 to 10 a.m. to accommodate funeral traffic, according to Richard French of the LAPD's media relations office.
On the eve of the memorial, Jackson's friends and family gathered at Forest Lawn, reportedly for a viewing of the pop star's body.
A small handful of cars was seen coming and going from the Hall of Liberty, a circular building at the cemetery that contains a 1,200 seat auditorium.