Funny Business with Jane Wells

Jackson Memorial: Behind The Blue Wall


I am a Los Angeles native who has covered every major story here over two decades. I have never seen so many Los Angeles police officers as I do this morning at the Staples Center.

Police at the Staples Center

But, so far, the gathering crowd for Michael Jackson's memorial is cordial, festive, manageable.

Police are not letting anyone without special bracelets designating they have tickets anywhere near the place, and officers are immune to cajoling.

Outside that perimeter there is a brisk business in T-shirts, and near the media camp, the Liberty Cafe opened early, really early, putting out its first breakfast buffet at 1am. The waiter told me this will be a good day.

Michael Jackson funeral at Staples Center

Not only will the city be out a couple million in costs for police, sanitation, and communications, but AEG is out millions donating the Staples Center and Nokia Theater venues, plus staff.

The Los Angeles City Attorney has told AEG it thinks the company should also foot some of the bill for taxpayers.

"We obviously disagree," AEG CEO Tim Leiweke told me. "This is not our service, it's the family's, and, again, with the city attorney, I respect him. He's new, so I will chalk this up to being in his first week or two, but not on the day of the funeral, that's very inappropriate."

I've only seen one "freak" so far, a man dressed as a cross between Michael Jackson and Alice Cooper (not a good look) and shouting. He became a TV magnet.

Perhaps the most amazing thing is that the CHP is reportedly shutting down the 101 freeway during rush hour to escort the family to a funeral service in the Hollywood Hills.

The 101 isn't good at 8am ever.

This will not cheer commuters.

And while we talk about the cost to the city, there is also a loss in productivity. LAPD Chief Bill Bratton suggested people who work downtown might consider taking the day off to avoid the mess.

Yet, overall, outside Staples , it's more festive than messy. "Enjoy the sights today," one LAPD officer told me. So far, I am.

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