Jackson memorial tickets draw 500 million requests (Roundup)
By Andy Goldberg Jul 3, 2009, 23:47 GMT
A total of 17,500 tickets was made available via lottery for fans who register online at Staplescenter.com. EPA/SKIP BOLEN
Los Angeles - Los Angeles officials Friday braced for massive crowds after announcing details of Michael Jackson's memorial service and pleading with fans without tickets to stay away.
The memorial will take place on Tuesday at 10 am (1700 GMT) at the Staples Centre sports stadium in downtown Los Angeles - the scene of his final rehearsal the day before he died last week, organizers confirmed Friday. No details were announced on Jackson's funeral arrangements.
A total of 17,500 tickets was made available via lottery for fans who register online at Staplescenter.com.
Within minutes of the announcement the site had crashed, and was swamped by 500 million hits within the first two hours, the Jackson family said in a statement.
Some of those hits could have emanated from automated computer systems. But local television stations quoted police officials as saying they were bracing for more than 500,000 fans could try to get close to the tribute event.
The tribute was originally slated for Jackson's remote ranch Neverland several hours north of Los Angeles. But the family relocated plans to Los Angeles because of the huge crush of interest.
Los Angeles officials announced plans to close off a wide area of downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday to prevent the formation of crowds. There is to be no public viewing on jumbo screen televisions around the basketball stadium as had been expected, and police will not allow any mass gathering around the venue for fans without tickets.
'You must have a ticket to be admitted to the venue,' said Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger. 'There's no way to get to this venue if you don't have a ticket.'
'I want to stress to people who are thinking about coming: you might want to consider watching this from the comfort of your own home,' said Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry, the city's acting mayor.
The event is expected to be one of the most viewed funerals in history, and organizers are making available free live video feeds to broadcasters and websites around the world.
Jackson family spokesman Ken Sunshine told a press conference that there would be no memorial procession and that no details of the memorial service itself would be released prior to the event. He also declined to say whether Jackson's body would be displayed at the event.
The press conference was held a day after Jackson's promoter AEG Live released a 30 second clip of Jackson performing at the same venue in his last rehearsal just before he died. The video corroborated prior comments from numerous people who had been present and had said that Jackson appeared healthy and engaged before his death, and had been fit to go ahead with his planned 50-concert comeback engagement in London.
However there are growing indications that Jackson was abusing prescription medications which could have led to his death. Police reportedly found the powerful sedative Diprivan in a search of the rented mansion where Jackson died, according to local station KTLA and other sources. The drug is normally used as an intravenous anesthetic and can prove deadly if used in the wrong dose.
Celebrity website TMZ.com quoted local medical sources as saying that Jackson was an 'anesthetic addict' who would often be sedated for minor medical procedures even when it was not necessary.
Officials from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the office of the California Attorney General are helping police investigate the possible abuse of prescription drugs.