Jackson fans told to stay away as tickets up for grabs

By AFP

June 18, 2010 Updated Jul 4, 2009 at 8:10 AM EDT

Fans heading to Los Angeles for Michael Jackson's memorial extravaganza have been urged to stay away, as organizers said tickets for the event would be allocated by an online lottery.

Pop icon Jackson's sudden death on June 25 sparked a worldwide outpouring of grief and hundreds of thousands of devotees are expected to descend on Los Angeles for Tuesday's memorial at the Staples Center.

But in a clear attempt to deter large numbers of ticketless fans from besieging the venue and creating a logistical nightmare, city officials said Friday the entire area would be put on lockdown.

"If you do not have a ticket ... not only will you not be allowed at these venues, you will not be allowed in this area," Los Angeles Police Department chief Earl Paysinger said.

The warning came as officials revealed tickets for the event would be distributed via an Internet lottery, with fans registering at the Staples Center's website to enter a draw from Friday onwards.

Some 11,000 tickets would be made available for the event inside the main venue while an additional 6,500 tickets would be distributed for fans watching a live feed at the neighboring Nokia Theater.

Within minutes of the draw being announced the Staples Center website had crashed. Representatives for the Jackson family later said the site had received 500 million hits in less than two hours.

Hoping to reduce the size of the crowd, city officials told The Los Angeles Times that there would be no funeral procession and that no one would be allowed inside a large area around the Staples Center unless they had a ticket and a wristband, a media credential or could prove they live or work there.

The decision to hold an online draw -- open only to US residents -- disappointed fans already gathered at the Staples Center, some of whom had flown into Los Angeles from overseas in anticipation of the event.

"Oh no, you mean it's useless to wait here?" said Tokyo resident Chi Sato. "I really, really love Michael Jackson."

Michael Jackson will be remembered Saturday in London where Madonna will perform a special tribute during her show at the venue where the late singer was due to stage his farewell concerts.

No information about where Jackson would be buried or what Tuesday's service would comprise was given.

The Jacksons earlier quashed the idea of a public viewing and private service at the singer's Neverland Ranch, which posed headaches due to its remote location in ritzy Santa Barbara wine country.

However, Jackson's elder brother Jermaine said he would still like the pop legend to be buried at Neverland, a tribute to Jackson's fascination with childhood that in its heyday had giraffes, tigers and a private amusement park.

"I feel his presence because this is his creation," Jermaine Jackson told CNN in an interview Thursday. "I really feel this is where he should be rested because it's him," he said. "It's serene."

As planning for Tuesday's memorial continued, legal battlelines were drawn over the fate of Jackson's offspring, with ex-wife Debbie Rowe declaring she planned to seek custody of the star's eldest two children.

A court hearing is scheduled next Monday to determine who will administer Jackson's estate, and another hearing is set for July 13 to discuss the guardianship of the singer's three children.

Rowe, who has remained largely silent since Jackson's death, told NBC television she would seek custody of Prince Michael, 12, and Paris, 11.

"I want my children," Rowe was quoted as saying in a 90-minute phone interview with the station. "I am stepping up. I have to."

Rowe, who was married to Jackson between 1996 and 1999, was omitted from a 2002 will filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday in which Jackson named his 79-year-old mother Katherine Jackson as guardian.

Jackson's mother was on Monday appointed temporary guardian of the two children and their seven-year-old sibling, Prince Michael II or "Blanket," who was born to an unidentified surrogate mother.

Rowe filed a petition in 2001 to give up her parental rights but later reversed her decision and secured visitation rights.

Rowe's lawyer Eric George later told reporters in a conference call Thursday no final decision had been made.

The investigation into Jackson's death has zeroed in on the star's possible use of prescription medications.

A law enforcement source confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that propofol, a powerful sedative commonly used as a general anesthetic, had been found by investigators at Jackson's home.




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