The tiny town of Los Olivos, California is expecting a huge crush of visitors this holiday weekend as Michael Jackson's body is returned to Neverland. By one local estimate, 200,000 people could show up to try to make their way up the windy two-lane road to Jackson's estate.
I have relatives who live down the road, and, for them, it's all a bit mind-boggling. There hasn't been this much of a to-do up there since Jackson celebrated his acquittal in a criminal trial in 2005. We've discussed what may happen if Colony Capital, which owns the mortgage to the property, decides to turn Neverland into a west coast Graceland.
In the meantime, locals are making a little money off the media. One guy, whose day job is working with vineyards made popular in the film "Sideways", has parked three vehicles outside Neverland to hold space for networks like the BBC. He's expecting to get paid $5,000. He's also lined up a fuel truck to resupply satellite rigs for $10 a gallon. Since it's expected that the road to Neverland will eventually be closed to all but media, local residents, law enforcement, and the Jackson clan, perhaps my relatives, who own a Vespa, could start up a two-wheeled taxi service for fans. A win-win.
Meantime, Michael Jackson's will may soon be entered into the public record. We have a producer at the courthouse waiting in case that happens. The will may give us a better understanding of the state of the singer's estate. That estate, by the way, continues to generate revenue. The Wall Street Journal reports that retailers sold more than 400,000 albums by the King of Pop last week in the four days following his death. The week before, fewer than 10,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen's SoundScan. More than half the albums sold after Jackson's death were digital downloads off sites like Apple's iTunes and Amazon.com. The Journal also reports that 2.3 million individual songs were downloaded after Jackson's death, compared to 37,000 songs the week before. That is a 6,000 percent increase.
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