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Fans Beat It To Michael Jackson's Star

Michael Jackson
AP
Michael Jackson

I drove into Hollywood at 2:15a, and as I walked up to Michael Jackson's star on the Walk of Fame, I had to navigate a small throng. Jackson's star has prime real estate on Hollywood Boulevard. It's right in front of Graumann's Chinese Theater, and the star had been closed off from fans, along with the rest of the sidewalk, for most of the night. Last night they premiered the Sasha Baron Cohen film, "Bruno", at Graumann's, and the block was closed off.

In a case of mistaken identity, many fans rushed to another star for Michael Jackson on Vine Street, but that's a different Michael Jackson (a prominent LA radio personality).

Shortly after 2am, security officials uncovered the star and let the public move in. They were allowed to come near in small groups to place flowers or candles on the star, and take a photo. Given the hour and the place, things were pretty cordial.

    • More CNBC.com Coverage of Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson Vigil
CNBC.com
Michael Jackson Vigil

I would say half the fans here are not Americans. I met a man from the Congo who works in Pasadena, who rushed here when he heard the news. Three German women were in tears. Many of the fans weren't even alive when Jackson was at his peak, like the young artist who sat by the star and immediately began painting Jackson's likeness. All of the controversy and strangeness of Jackson's final years matters little to them.

Then there were the cameras. I was here first, allowing me to get as close as I could to the star. A hour later, I was going live the same time as CNN and "The Today Show". An hour after that I was surrounded by seven other cameras and reporters, all of us doing the delicate dance of doing live shots at the same time without ruining each other's reports. I got a lot of practice doing that during O.J.

And the sun's not even up yet. Jackson Lived Like King But Died Awash in Debt


Michael Jackson Vigil
CNBC.com
Michael Jackson Vigil



And the sun's not even up yet. Jackson Lived Like King But Died Awash in Debt


Michael Jackson Vigil
CNBC.com
Michael Jackson Vigil



And the sun's not even up yet. Jackson Lived Like King But Died Awash in Debt


Michael Jackson Vigil
AP
Michael Jackson Vigil

UPDATE: Leaving Hollywood Blvd. to head back to the CNBC Los Angeles bureau, and I'll leave you with this story.

I've covered news in Los Angeles for over 20 years, and one thing I've learned is that when covering a big story in a small space with dozens of other reporters and photographers, you've got to get along. Yes, there are renegades who ignore everyone else and take over a scene, but they are usually shouted down and shoved away by the larger media beast. What looks awfully chaotic to you on the air is actually not nearly as bad as it could be. So, yes, I was a little surprised when I was doing a live shot for our sister network MSNBC this morning and a female still photographer jostled me a bit as she tried to gain a better position (apparently my speaking in a loud voice into a camera wasn't enough of a clue that I was on the air).

But my favorite mental memory of the day comes courtesy of a young reporter from a local TV station who stationed himself right next to Michael Jackson's star, in the middle of every camera shot--including mine--and stayed there. As I was doing a live shot, the reporter decided to make a move right behind me. I was unaware until I heard a large noise and turned around. He ended up getting tangled in his microphone cable and tripped right into the center of the star, sending lit candles flying and smashing a model of Peter Pan which a fan had left. The watching journalists suppressed smiles, but the sobbing Michael Jackson fans nearly killed him. I didn't see him again.

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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