Family and friends gather tonight for Michael Jackson burial in Glendale
Authorities will be out in force for the funeral, though they don't expect huge crowds of spectators. The funeral begins at 7 p.m.
Jackson will be interred in the expansive cemetery's Great Mausoleum. The pop singer's remains will be placed in a crypt in the Holly Terrace section of the mausoleum, a massive building that is the final resting place for stars from film's golden age, such as Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard and Clark Gable.
The burial caps months of rumors about where he would be laid to rest. One report had his body stored in a crypt owned by Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr., and there was widespread speculation that an elaborate grave -- and ultimately, a Graceland-style museum -- would be constructed at the entertainer's Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara County.
But Jackson's family, led by his 79-year-old mother, Katherine, selected Forest Lawn, a 20-minute trip across the San Fernando Valley from their Encino home.
On Wednesday, it was decided that Jackson's estate will pay the undisclosed expenses for the singer's funeral today -- a sum one attorney called "extraordinary."Probate Judge Mitchell Beckloff approved the payment at a hearing Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles after an attorney for the estate's administrators assured him that the estate had the financial resources to pay for the funeral and that it would not affect its solvency.
"The expenses are extraordinary; however, Michael Jackson is extraordinary," said attorney Jeryll S. Cohen, who told the judge that the administrators did not object to the expenses. "They may not be appropriate for an ordinary person, but Michael Jackson was not ordinary."
Attorneys for the singer's mother filed papers under seal late Tuesday asking that the estate foot the bill for the funeral she has planned. Burt Levitch, Katherine Jackson's attorney, said outside of court that he did not find the expenses extraordinary.
The bulk of the cost was going to the fee for Jackson to be interred at the cemetery, Levitch said. There, Jackson will be laid to rest amid lavish decorations, including statues and stained glass windows.
Margaret G. Lodise, an attorney representing Jackson's children, said she had no concerns that the funeral costs would overburden the estate. The sum is "not going to be the straw that breaks the camel's back," Lodise said.
Glendale city officials have said the public costs associated with the burial, including traffic control and other police services, would be passed on to the family.
Police spokesman Tom Lorenz said the cost of police services for Jackson's funeral would be $150,000 at most. Under a contract with Forest Lawn, police will provide "elaborate" security, including dogs and air support, he said.
He declined to specify how many officers would be deployed for the funeral, but said it would not affect the department's ongoing fire efforts, which he said were now down a handful of officers dealing with street closures.
Photo: Michael Jackson will be interred today in Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale, where stars such as Clark Gable have also been laid to rest.
Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times