- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 5, 2009

LOS ANGELES — The more than 1.6 million fans who registered to attend Michael Jackson’s memorial service waited to learn Sunday whether they were among the lucky few to win tickets for the Tuesday ceremony.

Fans registered for free at the Staples Center Web site for the random drawing of only 8,750 names. Each person selected will receive two tickets and will be notified by e-mail after 11 a.m. PDT Sunday, according to a Staples Center news release.

The odds of getting a ticket were about 1 in 183.

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 the stadium will be closed to prevent those without tickets from trying to attend, police said Sunday.

The 50-year-old Mr. Jackson died June 25 after going into cardiac arrest in the bedroom of his rented mansion. The cause of hisdeath has not been determined. Autopsy results are not expected for several weeks.

Mr. Jackson’s family was planning a private ceremony at the Forest Lawn cemetery in the Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell said. He did not provide further details.

More than a week after Mr. Jackson’s death, tributes and accolades keep coming. Madonna had a Jackson impersonator dance to “Wanna Be Starting Something” at her concert Saturday in the same London arena where he was to stage his comeback.

Colin Powell said in an interview Sunday that Mr. Jackson had controversy in his life but in death his art should be celebrated.

“Yes, there were some challenges in his life,” Mr. Powell told CNN’s “State of the Union,” which released excerpts of the interview. “Yes, there was a great deal of controversy about him, but he’s now passed on. Let’s celebrate his art.”

The memorial service will be broadcast on five television networks, after NBC executives changed their minds Sunday and decided to air the service live. NBC joins ABC, CNN, MSNBC and E! Entertainment.

Before the ticket drawing, officials of AEG, the owner and operator of the Staples Center, will “scrub” the entries to eliminate duplicates and any suspected of being made by automated systems or “go-bots,” Jackson family spokesman Ken Sunshine said in a statement.

Winners will receive a unique code and instructions on how to pick up their tickets Monday at an off-site distribution center. When they pick up their tickets, a wristband will be placed on their wrists.

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.

Sunshine said those steps are being taken to prevent ticket-scalping.

City officials are preparing for huge crowds. Assistant Police Chief Earl Paysinger says as many as 700,000 people may try to reach the arena, even though a wide area around Staples Center will be sealed off to people without tickets.

City Councilwoman Jan Perry strongly urged people to stay home and watch the memorial on television. The ceremony will not be shown on Staples’ giant outdoor TV screen, and there will be no funeral procession through the city.

No details were given about the actual memorial events, which come as the nation’s second-largest city struggles with a $530 million budget deficit. Ms. Perry said the cost of police protection for “extraordinary” events like the memorial is built into the Police Department’s budget, but she still solicited help for “incremental costs.”

Last month, donations covered about $850,000 of the city’s $1 million cost for the Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA championship parade. Critics had blasted the idea of using city money when it is considering layoffs to close its budget gap.

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