LOS ANGELES — A motorcade that began at the home of Michael Jackson’s parents reached a cemetery in the Hollywood Hills early Tuesday for a private service in advance of a star-studded memorial in downtown Los Angeles.
Numerous vehicles under California Highway Patrol escort headed out from the parents’ home shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday and reached Forest Lawn Memorial Park Hollywood Hills about 15 minutes later.
Authorities shut down sections of freeways during the height of Los Angeles’ morning rush hour to allow the motorcade to pass.
Jackson’s family members and dozens of friends, led by his parents, Joe and Katherine, were seen walking into a hall at the cemetery where a small viewing was apparently held the night before.
After the private ceremony, Jackson’s body was to be taken to the singer’s public memorial. Among the celebrities expected to attend the memorial were Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, Usher, Lionel Richie, Kobe Bryant, Jennifer Hudson, John Mayer and Martin Luther King III.
Police blocked off roads and warned those without tickets to stay away because they would not be able to get near to the downtown venue.
Some fans were allowed past street barriers into the immediate area around the Staples Center early Tuesday. Dozens of street vendors lined up selling T-shirts, photos, buttons and other Jackson memorabilia.
More than 1.6 million people registered for free tickets to Jackson’s memorial, but only 8,750 people were chosen to receive two tickets each.
Los Angeles was the epicentre of Jackson-mania, but the outpouring of emotion was worldwide. Belgium’s two national public broadcasters were to broadcast the memorial live later Tuesday and several hundred Jackson fans gathered at a Hong Kong mall late Tuesday.
Holding white candles, Hong Kong singer William Chan and Taiwanese pop star Judy Chou led the audience in observing a 30-second silence. Many of the fans clutched red roses and wore black; some donned Jackson’s trademark fedora hats.
In America, about 50 movie theatres across the country, from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., were planning to broadcast the memorial live, for free. Jackson died at age 50 on June 25.
“There are certain people in our popular culture that just capture people’s imaginations. And in death, they become even larger,” President Barack Obama told CBS while in Moscow. “Now, I have to admit that it’s also fed by a 24/7 media that is insatiable.”