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Michael Jackson Memorial coverage notes: Will biggest news be who doesn't show up?

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    Jackson1996_1431493c  Watching Smokey Robinson read an awkward tribute from Diana Ross at Michael Jackson's just-underway memorial at the Staples Center, it strikes me: The biggest news from this event may be who doesn't show up.

    Already, longtime Jackson pal Elizabeth Taylor has said she won't appear, sending messages through Twitter -- Liz Taylor is on Twitter?!? --  ""I've been asked to speak at the Staples Center. I cannot be part of the public whoopla....And I cannot guarantee that I would be coherent to say a word...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."

    Snarkier minds may theorize that Taylor just doesn't want to appear before a worldwide audience these days -- she has been seen in a wheelchair in public recently. But I wrote this morning about how Jackson's story can seem to corrode whomever it touches -- perhaps friends such as Ross and Taylor just don't want to share space with obvious parasites like dad Joe Jackson.

    B4s_etc_jackson07070_75202c Though the coverage has just begun, we've already seen a few interesting moments: an NBC reporter who had to be reminded that Betty White is not buried in Forest Lawn cemetery -- in fact, she's not dead -- but Bette Davis is; Fox news anchor Shep Smith sounding a little irritated as the channel tracked the progress of Jackson's casket through traffic noting "they're shutting down freeways for this funeral?" and ex-MTV VJ John Norris wearing a hairstyle (or hairpiece) which looks like a toupee stolen from Donald Trump and stapled to his forehead.

    Commentators are comparing the spectacle to Princess Diana's death -- but this may be even bigger thanks to the worldwide audience funneled in by Facebook, Twitter and loads of Web sites. Shades of coverage seems to vary little -- though black-focused BET seems to be very deliberately avoiding any talk about the seamier sides of Jackson's life or legacy.

    And it makes a certain kind of sense that the memorial for Jackson, who always seemed to exist in a time a bit apart from everyone else, would start late and have a huge pause in the beginning.

    [Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:59pm]

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