31 Million Watched Jackson Memorial
July 9, 2009 at 5:07 AM (PT)
More than 31 million Americans watched the public memorial for MICHAEL JACKSON live on television -- well below the TV audience for former U.S. Pres. RONALD REAGAN's burial and the funeral of BRITAIN's PRINCESS DIANA.
NIELSEN MEDIA RESEARCH said on WEDNESDAY that JACKSON's two-hour memorial in LOS ANGELES was carried live on TUESDAY by 18 U.S. television networks and cable channels, drawing an audience of 31.1 million.
Although the figure did not include millions more who are thought to have watched on the Internet or in replays, the audience paled in comparison to the 37.8 million who watched a full day of Pres. BARACK OBAMA's inauguration in JANUARY, and the 49.5 million Americans who tuned in for OBAMA's first WHITE HOUSE news conference in FEBRUARY.
Still Making News -- Now It's 'Where's Michael?'
MICHAEL JACKSON's glimmering casket took center stage at THE STAPLES CENTER, sitting for more than two hours as celebrities memorialized THE KING OF POP under the watchful eyes of millions. And when the ceremony was over, it was gone.
By law, the golden casket that presumably held JACKSON's body should be exactly where his death certificate says it is: back at FOREST LAWN MEMORIAL PARK HOLLYWOOD HILLS cemetery, the site of a private family memorial service held before the Staples ceremony. LOS ANGELES COUNTY records show the cemetery as the temporary location, where it must stay until those records are officially updated.
But where JACKSON's body will eventually be laid to rest remained a mystery, fed by the same level of rumor and speculation that surrounded much of his life. Will he be interred at FOREST LAWN? Is NEVERLAND RANCH still a possibility?
What if he's not buried at all, but cremated? The family isn't talking -- and may not even have decided yet.
The casket was first seen leaving the mortuary at FOREST LAWN, where it got into a hearse for the 10-mile trip to THE STAPLES CENTER. But before the service even started, the hearse was seen leaving the facility -- empty -- and wasn't spotted again. But to keep in good standing with the law, the casket would have needed to return to FOREST LAWN at some point, presumably after the crowds went home and the television cameras were long gone.
ROBERT J. BIGGINS, a former President of the NATIONAL FUNERAL DIRECTORS ASSOCIATION, said JACKSON's body is likely in his casket which he identified it as a custom-made, top-of-the-line coffin made by the INDIANA-based BATESVILLE CASKET COMPANY that is called a "Promethean." The casket is probably in a temporary holding area -- perhaps a mausoleum -- pending a final location, he said.
L.A. Up In Arms Over Cost Of Policing Memorial
"The talent has exited stage left and the tears have been dried, but the discord over the cost of the memorial service for MICHAEL JACKSON held in downtown LOS ANGELES on TUESDAY appears to be escalating," writes THE NEW YORK TIMES. "On TUESDAY, the city attorney, CARMEN TRUTANICH, took the highly unusual step of appearing during the public comment period of a City Council hearing to announce that his office was investigating how LOS ANGELES taxpayers came to foot a bill for police protection and other city functions at the service, at a time when the city and state are running out of money.
"On WEDNESDAY, the city controller, WENDY GREUEL, sent a stern letter to the LOS ANGELES emergency management department demanding to know why it had spent $48,826 on sandwiches from a deli 80 miles from LOS ANGELES to feed police officers. (Sandwiches from SUBWAY would have cost $17,491.25, she pointed out.)
"Rest assured our office is investigating how this whole phenomenon occurred from the get-go," TRUTANICH said when addressing the council.
"Two council members have also suggested that the JACKSON family help defer costs. JESSE DERRIS, a spokesman for the JACKSON family, said the family was unavailable for comment.
"The ANSCHUTZ ENTERTAINMENT GROUP, the owner of STAPLES CENTER and the promoter of JACKSON’s planned concert series in LONDON, donated the center for the event, but has also been a focus of requests for help to pay for its related costs. (Tickets were free and distributed via lottery.)"