Michael Jackson’s Memorial: Who Bailed and Why Some of the King of Pop’s most famous friends didn’t show up at his memorial.
By SHEILA MARIKAR
8 July 2009, 00:20
4 min read
July 8, 2009 — — It was expected to be the who’s who of everyone in the entertainment industry, bigger than President Obama’s inauguration, more star-studded than Princess Diana’s funeral.
A number of them came, like Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and Lionel Richie. But many of the most famous people in the music world didn’t show up to Michael Jackson’s memorial Tuesday.
Among the stars expected to attend who did not: Quincy Jones, who produced some of Jackson’s biggest hits, Beyonce Knowles, who paid tribute to Jackson at June 28’s BET awards, and Macaulay Culkin, who spent time at Jackson’s Neverland ranch as a boy.
Some of Jackson’s closest friends also shunned the service. Diana Ross, the soul legend Jackson emulated and the potential guardian of his three children, declined to attend and instead issued a statement to the media as the memorial began.
“I am trying to find closure,” Ross said in her statement. “I want you to know that even though I am not there at the Staples Center, I am there in my heart. I have decided to pause and be silent. This feels right for me. Michael was a personal love of mine, a treasured part of my world, part of the fabric of my life in a way that I can’t seem to find words to express.”
“Michael wanted me to be there for his children, and I will be there if they ever they need me,” she continued. “I hope, today brings closure for all those who loved him. Thank you, Katherine and Joe, for sharing your son with the world and with me. I send my love and condolences to the Jackson family.”
Dame Elizabeth Taylor announced via her Twitter page Monday that though she’s mourning Jackson’s passing, she had no desire to participate in or attend his memorial.
“I just don’t believe that Michael would want me to share my grief with millions of others. How I feel is between us. Not a public event,” she said. “I said I wouldn’t go to the Staples Center and I certainly don’t want to become a part of it. I love him too much.”
Did Some Stars Have Good Reason for Not Going?
Screen and stage legend Liza Minnelli, a longtime pals of Jackson’s, was also a no-show.
Then there’s the bevy of successful musicians who count Jackson as their contemporary and/or inspiration (if not their personal friend) who were notably absent from the proceedings: fellow legends Madonna, Prince and Elton John, pop stars Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, and Sheryl Crow, who began her career as a back-up singer for Jackson in the 1980s. They all sang Jackson’s praises to the press in the days following his death — why not show up to the main event?
For some, said Us Weekly senior editor Ian Drew, there were good reasons: schedule (Madonna and Spears are on tour — skipping a show could cost them millions), spectacle (Taylor and Ross made it clear they didn’t want to steal the show from Jackson) and spite.
“Prince and Michael Jackson always hated each other,” Drew said. “He wouldn’t even make a statement when Michael died. He’s always had to take a backseat to Michael, which for him, being so prolific, is very insulting.”
But according to E! Online columnist Ted Casablanca, some of the big-wigs had no excuse.
“The big ones: Diana, Liza, Madonna — no excuse is good enough,” he said. “Just show up. These are incredibly rich people. It can be arranged. You get escorted in, you get a limo, you don’t talk to anybody, you hide behind your sunglasses, you get back on your private jet, you’re gone. They’re hiding behind excuses. This is when you drop everything.”
No one will contest that Jackson’s memorial moved his family, friends and fans and paid tasteful tribute to the pop icon. But for better or for worse, Tuesday’s ceremony lacked the fireworks and spectacle that characterized Jackson’s career, an over-the-top quality the King of Pop himself surely would have appreciated.
Casablanca blames the celebrities for that.
“It’s another tragedy, in a way. You arrange this big, glittery send off and not all the glitter shows up,” he said. “I thought it smacked of letting him be buried a bit lonelier than he should’ve been. He should have been sent off better than this.”