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Jackson service to include music, sports stars

Kobe Bryant, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Hudson and Stevie Wonder are among the celebrities who will participate in the late pop star's memorial service on Tuesday, but longtime Jackson friend Elizabeth Taylor will not attend.
/ Source: staff and news service reports

Kobe Bryant, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Hudson and Stevie Wonder are among the celebrities who will participate in the memorial service for singer Michael Jackson on Tuesday at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, the Jackson family announced on Monday.

Other participants include Motown record label founder Berry Gordy, Magic Johnson, Brooke Shields, Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie, Usher, Martin Luther King III, and Shaheen Jafargholi, a young finalist from “Britain’s Got Talent.” No information was released about the participants’ specific roles in the event, and the announcement said no further information would be forthcoming.

Actress Elizabeth Taylor, a longtime friend of Jackson's, wrote on Twitter that she will not attend the service. "I just don't believe that Michael would want me to share my grief with millions of others," Taylor wrote. "How I feel is between us. Not a public event."

Another person who will not be attending is Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe. Her attorney, Marta Almli, issued a statement saying "the onslaught of media attention has made it clear (Rowe’s) attendance would be an unnecessary distraction to an event that should focus exclusively on Michael’s legacy. Debbie will continue to celebrate Michael’s memory privately.”

Fans who don't have tickets will be able to watch the service live in high-definition in as many as 80 movie theaters in as many as 31 states.

Among those confirmed to show the service were cinemas in about 20 states, including venues in Atlanta; Las Vegas; Topeka, Kan.; Mobile, Ala.; Pensacola, Fla.; Lansing, Mich.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Utica, N.Y.

Locations and details will be updated on the company’s Web site, .
Admission will be free based on space availability.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles city councilwoman Jan Perry said she'd "love it" if the Jacksons helped defray some of the city's expected costs associated with Tuesday's memorial, but that officials hadn't heard from the family.

Perry said the city didn't immediately have an estimate of those costs. More than 1.6 million fans registered online for a chance to attend the Staples Center ceremony, and only 8,750 names were chosen. Los Angeles officials are concerned about other fans clogging city streets.

"We're encouraging people to stay away," Perry said on CBS' "The Early Show" on Monday.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, in an appearance Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America," made no mention of whether the Jacksons would help the city with some of the expected costs.

"The city is trying to do what it should do to secure people," said Sharpton, a family friend. "That's what cities do. Clearly, no one in the family are happy that the city is incurring any expense at all. You're talking about an historic figure that will have an historic celebration, probably one that we would not see similar in this generation."

Ticket-holders celebrateMeanwhile, lucky fans celebrated when they got an e-mail saying they had scored the hottest ticket in town. "Congratulations, your application was successful," said the message sent to Deka Motanya, 27, of San Francisco.

She immediately Twittered: "OMG OMG OMG OMG i got tickets to the michael jackson memorial service!!!"

It was a real-life version of Willy Wonka's golden tickets. Each selected person gets a pair of free tickets, with the odds of being chosen about 1 in 183.

Dozens of police officers and a fire truck were parked outside Dodger Stadium on Monday, where ticket winners could start picking up their coveted passes.

Nancy Kothari, 31, drove all night from Yuma, Arizona, to be at the stadium before the gates opened.

“I grew up with Michael Jackson, with his music,” Kothari said. “‘Thriller’ was the first album I ever had.”

Kothari said she expected the service to be “extremely sad.”

“I’m kind of nervous in a way, but also excited,” she said.

Tickets were handed out in a drive-through process. Voucher holders had to get past a police checkpoint outside the stadium, then drive into a parking lot where orange traffic cones marked about 20 lanes. A police officer and an event staffer stood at the end of each lane. Drivers pulled up, handed over their vouchers, had a band placed on their wrist and were given tickets and another wristband.

Ticket winners were to show up with a unique code and instructions, and organizers were to check IDs to make sure those picking up wristbands were the same people who originally applied online, said Staples Center spokesman Michael Roth. Fans must have both the ticket and the wristband to enter Staples Center on Tuesday. Wristbands that have been ripped, taped or tampered with will be voided.

But Roth acknowledged that high-priced scalping of the free passes was possible because winners were permitted to give anyone their second bracelet.

"Theoretically, the second wrist band can be sold," Roth said.

Organizers were considering how to distribute any unclaimed seats, but had not immediately decided on a plan, Roth said.

The memorial service will be broadcast live on five television networks.

David Gobaud, 25, who studies computer science at Stanford University, said he didn't believe his e-mail of acceptance was real at first. "It's Michael Jackson, one of the greatest musical stars of all time," he said.

Zach Moss, a 21-year-old ticket winner from Chicago who is working as a DJ in Las Vegas this summer, said clubgoers have responded strongly to Jackson's music since his death.

"You can play two, three Michael Jackson songs back to back and people are going to have this huge jubilation celebration," he said. "Everyone throws their drinks up and shouts, 'MJ!' It's extremely powerful."

The tickets will admit 11,000 people to the Staples Center plus 6,500 in the Nokia Theater overflow section next door. The streets around Staples Center will be closed to prevent those without tickets from trying to attend, police said.

Assistant Police Chief Jim McDonnell warned the ticketless to stay away. He would not say how many police would be on the job, but alluded to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and the recent championship celebration for the Los Angeles Lakers at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

"You'll be standing in the hot sun on a city street with a lot of other people," he said. "But not within eyeshot of Staples."

The ceremony will not be shown on Staples' giant outdoor TV screen and there will be no funeral procession through the city.