Debbie Rowe will no longer attend Jackson memorial

July 6, 2009 2:34:44 PM PDT
An attorney for Debbie Rowe says Michael Jackson's ex-wife is backing out of plans to attend the pop superstar's memorial service. Former Jackson business associate Marc Schaffel said on ABC's "Good Morning America" that Rowe was confirmed for VIP seats. Rowe is the mother of Jackson's two oldest children.

Rowe, the mother of Jackson's two oldest children, had originally planned to attend Tuesday's memorial service at the Staples Center.

But Rowe attorney Marta Almli said Monday her attendance would be "an unnecessary distraction" and that Rowe will "celebrate Michael's memory privately."

Meanwhile, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry said she'd "love it" if the Jacksons helped defray some of the city's expected costs associated with Tuesday's memorial, but that officials hadn't heard from the family.

Perry said the city didn't immediately have an estimate of those costs. More than 1.6 million fans registered online for a chance to attend the Staples Center ceremony, and only 8,750 names were chosen. Los Angeles officials are concerned about other fans clogging city streets.

"We're encouraging people to stay away," Perry said on CBS' "The Early Show" on Monday.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, in an appearance Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America," made no mention of whether the Jacksons would help the city with some of the expected costs.

"The city is trying to do what it should do to secure people," said Sharpton, a family friend. "That's what cities do. Clearly, no one in the family are happy that the city is incurring any expense at all. You're talking about an historic figure that will have an historic celebration, probably one that we would not see similar in this generation."

Meanwhile, lucky fans celebrated when they got an e-mail saying they had scored the hottest ticket in town. "Congratulations, your application was successful," said the message sent to Deka Motanya, 27, of San Francisco.

She immediately Twittered: "OMG OMG OMG OMG i got tickets to the michael jackson memorial service!!!"

It was a real-life version of Willy Wonka's golden tickets. Each selected person gets a pair of free tickets, with the odds of being chosen about 1 in 183.

Ticket winners were told to head to Dodger Stadium on Monday with a unique code and instructions to pick up tickets. A wristband will be placed on each person's wrist. Organizers will check IDs to make sure those picking up wristbands are the same people who originally applied online, said Staples Center spokesman Michael Roth.

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.

But Roth acknowledged that high-priced scalping of the free passes was possible because winners were permitted to give anyone their second bracelet.

"Theoretically, the second wrist band can be sold," Roth said.

Organizers were considering how to distribute any unclaimed seats, but had not immediately decided on a plan, Roth said.

The memorial service will be broadcast live on five television networks.

David Gobaud, 25, who studies computer science at Stanford University, said he didn't believe his e-mail of acceptance was real at first. "It's Michael Jackson, one of the greatest musical stars of all time," he said.

Zach Moss, a 21-year-old ticket winner from Chicago who is working as a DJ in Las Vegas this summer, said clubgoers have responded strongly to Jackson's music since his death.

"You can play two, three Michael Jackson songs back to back and people are going to have this huge jubilation celebration," he said. "Everyone throws their drinks up and shouts, 'MJ!' It's extremely powerful."

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 Staples Center will be closed to prevent those without tickets from trying to attend, police said.

Assistant Police Chief Jim McDonnell warned the ticketless to stay away. He would not say how many police would be on the job, but alluded to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and the recent championship celebration for the Los Angeles Lakers at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

"You'll be standing in the hot sun on a city street with a lot of other people," he said. "But not within eyeshot of Staples."

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 available about the actual memorial events.

The joyful anticipation among the chosen fans comes as the courts continue to untangle the future of Jackson's estate and police probe the circumstances of his death.

Jackson died at age 50 on June 25 after going into cardiac arrest in the bedroom of his rented mansion. The cause of Jackson's death has not been determined. Autopsy results are not expected for several weeks.

Jackson's family was planning a private ceremony at the Forest Lawn cemetery in the Hollywood Hills, McDonnell said. He did not provide further details.

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Associated Press Writers Jacob Adelman and Michael R. Blood, and Television Writer David Bauder contributed to this report.

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