September 3rd, 2009
04:30 PM ET

Michael Jackson laid to rest at last

Update #10: Michael Jackson's funeral is over and his family has departed in their fleet of Rolls.  One can only imagine what they are thinking as they drive away from their loved one, after saying a final farewell to him.

At the service Gladys Knight performed; his father Joe Jackson made remarks and others came to the podium to speak spontaneously about him, according to the family's p.r. representatives.

Among the other stars in attendance: Mila Kunis, Corey Feldman, Jackson's former wife Lisa Marie Presley and Motown founder Berry Gordy.

The Jackson family hired a sophisticated video crew to record the event, triggering speculation that some footage may be included in the upcoming concert movie about Jackson.  It's supposed to come out next month.

Update #9: The Jackson family has arrived (most of them in Rolls Royces).  Michael's children have taken their seats.  They look composed, but Janet Jackson seemed to be bearing her grief more heavily.

Michael's parents, Katherine and Joe Jackson, are seated next to each other.

Update #8: The service still hasn't started.  There are empty chairs in front, reserved for Jackson's family members.

Macaulay Culkin is here.  Johnny Mathis is NOT.  I confused him with actor, singer and ordained minister Clifton Davis (they look a lot alike, at least to me).  Apologies.

Update #7: The burial service is delayed.  It was supposed to start 20 minutes ago.  We haven't seen any family members arrive.

Elizabeth Taylor was brought in by wheelchair.  Her hair is dyed black.

Update #6: More stars arriving now: Johnny Mathis, Chris Tucker(who imitated Michael in the "Rush Hour" movies).  Also here: Attorney Tom Mesereau, who defended Jackson during his molestation trial a few years ago, and Rev. Al Sharpton.

Update #5: Per Larry King, Elizabeth Taylor has arrived at Forest Lawn for the burial service.

The sun will be setting soon and it's down to 89.4 degrees outside. 

Update #4: T-minus 44 minutes until the service starts.  Limos are arriving, although we haven't seen who's inside.

Elizabeth Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Rev. Al Sharpton and Gladys Knight will be here, along with other friends and of course family.

The invitation sent to guests was nine pages long and includes these lines from Jackson:

    "In our darkest hour/In my deepest despair/Will you still care?/Will you be there?"

His family and friends will be there.


Update #3: It's down to 99.5 degrees.  Thank heavens for small mercies.  T-minus three hours and six minutes.


Update #2: T-minus three hours and 22 minutes.  It's 100 degrees outside.

No family or friends have arrived yet. 


It's T-minus four hours and 30 minutes until Michael Jackson's burial service begins. 

Jackson's body has been lying in a refrigerated mortuary awaiting this day.  Outside Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, Calif., it's 99 degrees, according to a website I just checked.

A platoon of police officers is on hand to keep order, some of them skimming along the boulevard outside Forest Lawn on Segway-like scooters (they're called "T3 Motion" vehicles, one of the officers told me).  At least they're feeling a breeze.

Just inside the grounds a fountain shoots a beam of water into the air that diffuses into mist on its downward arc.  I suspect I'm not the only one who wishes he was standing underneath it.

The guest list for the burial service is being kept secret, but we do know Gladys Knight will perform.   There are reports Aretha Franklin will too.

We've seen the invitation that was sent to a select group of friends and family.  It includes this quote from Jackson's 1992 book "Dancing the Dream":

        "If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with."

Watch this space for updates!  And watch a special live edition of Showbiz Tonight at 11pm eastern tonight for an inside look at the service.

September 3rd, 2009
12:17 PM ET

The Summer of Death

"Ooooh, that smell / Can't you smell that smell / Ooooh, that smell / The smell of death surrounds you..."      - Lynyrd Skynyrd

At first, I told myself it was a combination of coincidence and getting older: the longer you cover celebrities, the more of them you know and the more you know about them, so the more you notice.  But it can't be denied any longer: celebrities have dropped at an alarming rate this summer.  We lost Dom DeLuise on May 4 - you may not consider early May to be summer, but Hollywood does: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, this year's first "summer blockbuster," opened May 1 - and ever since, it's been an incredibly funereal season.  With both Michael Jackson's funeral and DJ AM's memorial service tonight, it seemed a good time to recap the Summer of Death.  In order of expiration:

  • Dom DeLuise
  • veteran basketball coach Chuck Daly
  • basketball star turned jazz artist Wayman Tisdale
  • blues legend Koko Taylor
  • actor David Carradine
  • guitarist Bob Bogle of the Ventures
  • Ed McMahon
  • Farrah Fawcett
  • Michael Jackson
  • TV huckster Billy Mays
  • comedian/impressionist Fred Travalena
  • actor Karl Malden
  • NFL star Steve McNair
  • Walter Cronkite
  • author Frank McCourt
  • dance legend Merce Cunningham
  • writer/director/producer John Hughes
  • guitar innovator Les Paul
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver
  • political pundit Robert Novak
  • "60 Minutes" creator Don Hewitt
  • Sen. Edward Kennedy
  • author Dominic Dunne
  • Adam Goldstein aka DJ AM

Anyone who reads an entertainment news blog certainly remembers most of these figures, if not all of them, and while you can't equate the loss of a celebrity to that of a friend or loved one, their fame makes their passing something we can share as a society.  With hundreds of television channels, nearly as many genres of music, and the entire Internet increasingly fragmenting our common entertainment experience, I think it's worth noting the things we still share - and sadly, this summer's celebrity death toll fits that bill.

September 3rd, 2009
11:02 AM ET

Your pop culture cheat sheet

DJ AM was remembered Wednesday in a small funeral attended by family and friends, including Travis Barker, People reports. A larger memorial service will take place today at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles.

Katherine Heigl

Katherine Heigl is taking a short leave of absence from "Grey's Anatomy" to film the romantic comedy "Life as We Know it," according to The Web site reports that Heigl will miss five episodes and her character's absence will be explained on the show.

The 3D craze hitting theaters will soon extend into your living room. The Hollywood Reporter says that consumer electronics manufacturers are working on 3D television sets. Bob Perry, the executive vice president of Panasonic Consumer Electronics, tells the paper that this is "the new frontier of television."

"Will & Grace" star Megan Mullally is joining the cast of the Starz series "Party Down" after the departure of cast member Jane Lynch (now on "Glee"), according to The Hollywood Reporter. The show's new season is scheduled for April.

People reports that Lisa Loeb is expecting a baby with husband Roey Hershkovitz. Their first child is due in the winter.

September 3rd, 2009
08:51 AM ET

From comics to film

Robert Downey Jr.'s next comic-to-film role: "Cowboys and Aliens." The film tells the story of an alien invasion in the Old West. Guy Ritchie also turns to comic books for his next project. CNN's Douglas Hyde catches you up on Hollywood news, including Colbie Caillat's no. 1 album.

Filed under: Robert Downey Jr.
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Our daily cheat-sheet for breaking celebrity news, Hollywood buzz and your pop-culture obsessions.