Michael Jackson to be Buried in Famed Hollywood Cemetery

Sources tell ABC News that the pop star will be buried early Tuesday morning.

ByABC News via logo
July 3, 2009, 11:15 AM

July 6, 2009 — -- A burial service for Michael Jackson will take place early Tuesday morning at the famed Forest Lawn Cemetery in Hollywood Hills, Calif., sources close to the Jackson family have confirmed to ABC News. Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe, who may fight for custody of the couple's children, won't attend.

The service is set to begin at 8 a.m. PST and could delay the start of the memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. PST.

Earlier today, Rowe, who is threatening a custody fight over Jackson's two oldest children, said that she will not attend Jackson's public memorial service, in an effort to keep the attention on the late pop icon.

Rowe's decision to skip her ex-husband's service came just hours after she said she would attend.

"The onslaught of media attention has made it clear her attendance would be an unnecessary distraction to an event that should focus exclusively on Michael's legacy," attorney Marta Almli said in a statement this afternoon. "Debbie will continue to celebrate Michael's memory privately."

Marc Schaffel, a former Jackson associate and friend of Rowe's, told "Good Morning America" today that Rowe had tried unsuccessfully to reach the Jackson family before the court hearing.

"There has been outreach. Unfortunately, like so many cases there's so much going on that they have not been able to make contact," he said, blaming outdated phone numbers and full voice mail boxes.

Elsewhere in Los Angeles, Michael Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson, was denied control of her son's multimillion dollar estate, at least temporarily, in a ruling by a Los Angeles judge today.

Judge Mitchell Beckloff named former Jackson attorney John Branca and record executive John McClain as temporary administrators of Jackson's estate until an Aug. 3 hearing to determine the validity of Jackson's 2002 will, which names the men as executors of his trust.

Beckloff said in court that he would hold off finalizing control of Jackson's estate until it is proved that no other will exists. Jackson's attorney said they have found another will written before 2002, but any provisions would be superceded by the more recent document.

"Frankly, Mrs. Jackson has concerns about handing over the keys to the kingdom," John E. Schreiber, an attorney for Katherine Jackson, told The Associated Press.

Lawyers for Katherine Jackson had hoped to convince Beckloff to delay a decision on who would control Jackson's tangled finances until after Tuesday's burial and elaborate memorial service.

Instead, Beckloff ruled that Branca and McClain should take charge, at least for now.

Paul Gordon Hoffman, an attorney for Branca and McClain, told the court that some of Katherine Jackson's concerns were unfounded.

Hoffman said Jackson's mother had more of a potential conflict administering the estate because she is a likely beneficiary.

"If there are any conflicts by the parties, Katherine Jackson rather than Mr. McClain and Mr. Branca have them," Hoffman said.

The judge also required Branca and McClain to take out $1 million surety bonds in part to ensure their new responsibilities are carried out properly.

Because Jackson included a no-contest provision in his will, Katherine Jackson risks losing the 40 percent in assets bequeathed to her by her son if she contests the will. Her lawyers were quick to point out in court today that Katherine Jackson isn't contesting her son's will, just trying to preserve her role as administrator.

Beckloff acknowledged the parties' early dissension by noting that "this is getting off to a rocky start out of the gate."

A separate hearing will be held July 13 on the custody of Jackson's three children, who are currently living with Katherine Jackson.

Beckloff today said that he might appoint a lawyer to represent the children.

As the battle for Jackson's assets begins, workers are hurriedly putting the finishing touches on Tuesday's lavish Michael Jackson memorial service.

ABC News will broadcast the Jackson memorial service live at 1 p.m. ET Tuesday, July 7

Jackson, 50, died June 25, leaving behind three young children and a complicated trove of debt, licensing rights, memorabilia and his 2,800-acre Neverland ranch.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been at the family's side since Jackson's death, criticized the timing of Katherine Jackson's date in probate court.

"I think it has been very insensitive, particularly to this family, that you would even schedule a court hearing on the status of the mother the day before she has to go to the cemetery for her son," Sharpton told "Good Morning America's" Robin Roberts. "I mean it's almost insulting."

One week from today, Katherine Jackson's attorneys will head to court for a separate, more personal battle for custody of Jackson's three children.

Katherine Jackson has been granted temporary custody of Michael Joseph Jr., 12; Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson, 11; and Prince Michael Jackson II, 7, who is known as Blanket. But Rowe, who was divorced from Jackson in 1999, is expected to lay claim to at least the two oldest children.

Schaffel, who was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in Jackson's 2005 molestation trial and later awarded a multimillion dollar judgment against the singer for back payments and loans, declined to comment on Rowe's plans for seeking custody of Jackson's children, but adamantly denied growing public sentiment that her taking a multimillion dollar settlement and signing away her custody rights makes her an unfit parent.

"Debbie did not sell the rights to her children. What I don't think most people realize ... Debbie Rowe has been a very close friend of Michael's for over 25 years," Schaffel said. "She wanted him to have children. They made a deal. Michael would raise the children. Obviously that's changed."

Schaffel said that Rowe has seen the children over the years, but he would not say when or how often.

But for now, the Jackson clan is focusing on saying goodbye.