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Michael Jackson Memorial Service: Latest News and Preview

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Sharon Waxman
Founder and CEO, TheWrap
Tuesday, July 7, 2009; 12:00 PM

Sharon Waxman, journalist and founder and CEO of TheWrap, a Web site that reports on the business of entertainment and media, was online from Los Angeles on Tuesday, July 7, at Noon ET to preview the memorial service and report the latest news in the Michael Jackson saga.

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Waxman is an award-winning journalist and author best known for her work as a Hollywood correspondent for The New York Times and The Washington Post.

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Sharon Waxman: Hey it's Sharon Waxman here, editor of TheWrap.com, and former writer for The Washington Post for many years. Nice to be back at my old haunt (used to do this weekly and talk to readers at Hollywood & Vine, for those who might remember). Our new site, launched in January of this year, does deep original reporting about the entertainment industry, and we've broken many stories about Michael Jackson, including the fact that his last rehearsal was taped in multicamera HD and 3D, which we now know is confirmed by AEG Live.

Today's funeral and memorial is quite an extraordinary phenomenon. We now have reporters fanned out on the Michael Jackson story both at Forest Lawn and the Staples Center. I'm in our newsroom in Santa Monica, and would be happy to take questions, meanwhile I hope you'll check out our coverage at thewrap.com.

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Atlanta, Ga.: Let's confront the facts head-on so that something positive can come from Michael's untimely death. Michael was killed by his untreated drug addiction. Those addicts (and alcoholics) who are listening today should know that, left untreated, your addiction will kill you. Reach out and get help now.

Sharon Waxman: You make a very good point. We broke a major piece of this story in today's edition, publishing confidential police reports of Jackson's former employees who named the doctors that supplied him with drugs, and the method by which he would get them. He would go from one city to another, and have the prescriptions made out to the names of his employees - bodyguard Chris Carter, Frank Cascio, etc. This all came from documents filed in the 2004 child molestation trial, but the drug abuse aspect, while outlined in great detail, was largely ignored. here's the link to the story.

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D.C.: Why is California wasting so many tax dollars to police 80,000 people who should be contributing labor to end a recession? What if those 80,000 people expressed their mourning by volunteering to do habitat restoration on the L.A. River? Or by cleaning up schools? What is it with American culture and dead celebrities? MJ had fallen into the category of the macabre before he passed. What's with this misplaced energy?

Sharon Waxman: Have pity on the LAPD. They are responding to an extraordinary outpouring of interest by the public. The police department has basically cleaned out and roped off downtown, shut down highways and are bracing for possible crazies.

All that is really necessary given the heightened emotion and number of bodies out there. I personally can't quibble with fans who want to celebrate a musician they loved. It's an historic moment.

Meanwhile, LA has asked for donations to help defray the cost of city services for today.

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Fairfax, Va.: Did Debbie Rowe want to be at memorial today? Does she speak with any Jackson family members? She was pretty angry at that paparazzi ambush the other day. What will she do now? Will she fight for the kids?

Sharon Waxman: I haven't spoken to Debbie Rowe. I highly doubt she is in direct touch with anyone in the Jackson family. Any communications are undoubtedly going either through the media (much of which I don't trust - there have been two or three interviews already completely debunked) or through lawyers.

But she isn't at the memorial. One reported interview had her saying she would try to get custody of the kids. This of course makes sense from a financial perspective, as anyone who has custody will get a rich child support budget from the Jackson estate.

I don't have a lot of sympathy for Debbie Rowe. She voluntarily accepted cash to give up the rights to her children.

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washingtonpost.com: Photo Gallery: Honoring a Pop Icon

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Washington, D.C.: Two quick comments: First, I'm fascinated with all the "How Are You honoring MJ's memory" sites and news media stories. I could understand if it were "how are you observing his memory." Entirely different things. Second, heard on radio this morning Rev. Sharpton believes a U.S. stamp honoring Mr. Jackson should be issued immediately, heard several suggestions from celebrities and others asked about him for a national day of mourning, and nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize for his good work around the world (a second person suggested "at least a Nobel Prize of some sort") and that if you're critical of "Michael the man" or "Michael the artist" and/or the "extended" coverage, you're racist; apparently you're expected to accept he was a "virtuous man of international humanitarianism" (a phrase heard minutes ago in a video interview).

Sharon Waxman: That' completely fascinating. Thanks for sharing that.

It's amazing how Michael Jackson's image has completely reversed with his death - he has acquired a real halo of virtue, whereas before he was a curiosity, a wacko, some kind of alien creature we all regarded as endlessly weird.

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Arlington, Va.: An unfair question, perhaps, because I know nothing about Ms. Rowe, but it seems to me that if Mr. Jackson was adamant about his having exclusive custody of their children, I would think that he would have his way and money was simply a way to placate her, rather than being a golddigger. But I'm saying that without knowing about her.

Sharon Waxman: Not an unfair question. Everything about Michael Jackson's life seemed mysterious and complicated. In truth, Rowe did do Jackson a kindness in carrying his children - he very much wanted to be a father. But like everything else, it became complicated, and is more complicated in death.

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Manassas, Va.: Will this memorial special also be shown in its entirety at night a few times?

Sharon Waxman: i don't know about that. The beauty of the Internet is you'll undoubtedly be able to watch it on YouTube forever and ever.

We are getting caught up in coverage now, so I'll have to go.

Thanks, and hope you'll follow our coverage.

Sharon

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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