Jackson viewing in Neverland set for Friday (Roundup)
Jun 30, 2009, 23:36 GMT
Props of a hat, gloves and sunglasses representing late US singer Michael Jackson sit on a stool before an all day Public Tribute to the late pop star at the Apollo Theater in New York, As plans for a public viewing of Michael Jackson\'s body were revealed Tuesday, the tussle for control of his children and estate took on some new twists. EPA/PETER FOLEY
Los Angeles - As plans for a public viewing of Michael Jackson's body were revealed Tuesday, the tussle for control of his children and estate took on some new twists.
Jackson's body is to be returned to his home at Neverland on Thursday for a public viewing for fans on Friday, broadcaster CNN reported.
The family is to hold a private memorial at Jackson's fabled central California refuge on Sunday, but no details were released on funeral arrangements for the former King of Pop, who died last week from cardiac arrest at the age of 50.
Jackson's family is expected to leave from Los Angeles in a 30- vehicle convoy Thursday morning for the roughly 200-kilometre drive to the remote and sprawling ranch in the Santa Barbara hills.
On Tuesday, thousands of Jackson fans gathered at the famous Apollo Theatre in New York for a memorial, which included a video tribute. Carrying Jackson posters and flowers, they were allowed into the theatre in batches of 600 people.
The Apollo Theatre in Harlem is a special place for Jackson fans - that's where the Jackson 5 got its start when Michael was a child. As news of Jackson's death spread Thursday, fans started gathering at the Apollo late into the night, both mourning their loss and celebrating his life.
'Let's spread the word - it was Michael who opened the door ... who broke down race barriers, national barriers and made a way for Tiger Woods, made a way for Oprah Winfrey, made a way for Barack Obama,' said civil rights activist Al Sharpton. He blamed the press for the many controversies that engulfed Jackson. 'You can scandalize him, but we know better,' he said.
Meanwhile, authorities near Neverland fear than an influx of fans could overwhelm roads and infrastructure in the bucolic farming region and were meeting to make arrangements for the thousands of fans expected to pay their respects.
Details of the Neverland memorial arrangements came as reports surfaced that Jackson was not the biological father of his three children and his family acknowledged the existence of a will made by Jackson in 2002, which reportedly names his mother Katherine Jackson, 79, as executor of his estate.
Jackson family lawyer Londell McMillan confirmed the existence of the will, but declined to detail its contents. The Wall Street Journal said the will named Jackson's mother Katherine as the administrator of his estate. Other reports said that the will left nothing to Jackson's father or his siblings.
Celebrity website tmz.com and gossip magazine Us Weekly reported that neither Jackson nor his ex-wife Debbie Rowe were the biological parents of the two children born during their marriage - Michael Joseph Jackson Jr, known as Prince Michael, 12, and Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, 11.
His third child, Prince Michael II, 7, was also conceived outside the womb and delivered by an unknown surrogate mother and is also not Jackson's biological child, the reports said.
Us Weekly reported that the father of Jackson's two older children is his dermatologist Arnold Klein, who has also been identified as a potential source of the prescription medications that have been linked with his death.
The claims were refuted by veteran showbiz journalist Roger Freidman who said that Rowe and Jackson were the biological parents of the older two children. He said he had spoken to Rowe, who planned to wait till after the funeral to contact Jackson's family to discuss the custody of the children.
On Monday, a judge granted temporary guardianship of the three children to Jackson's mother, but scheduled a further hearing for next Monday on her request to become their permanent guardian. She has also filed a petition to be named the executor of Jackson's tangled but valuable estate.
The assets in Jackson's estate are valued at over 1 billion dollars, though he had amassed more than 400 million dollars in debt. The value of his estate is likely to soar in the coming years as fans flock to buy his records and other merchandise associated with him.
Jackson had 13 of the top 20 selling albums on iTunes Monday and 40 of the top 100 songs.