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City braced for Jackson memorial mayhem

OFFICIALS in Los Angeles were scrambling yesterday to try to figure out how to accommodate a public memorial service for Michael Jackson at a venue that can hold no more than 20,000 people.

The event has been set for 10am next Tuesday at the downtown Staples Center, according to a statement from the Jackson family's publicist. The service is expected to draw tens of thousands of spectators wanting to pay their respects to the King of Pop, who died on June 25.

How city officials will handle the massive crowd remains to be settled.

Randy Phillips, chief executive of AEG Live, which owns the Staples Center and was Jackson's promoter, said tickets would be free. He was not yet sure how they would be distributed.

Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine said plans for the memorial were clearly moving forward, but he wished there had been more time to work out the logistics.

"If you can imagine 100,000 people show up and you have 20,000 capacity, there is not sufficient room. Now you have a crowd-control problem," he said.

Since many people were on holiday this weekend because of Independence Day on July 4, "it's the worst time to work something out." He also said he was concerned about the cost of police overtime for the cash-strapped city.

Jackson's brother Jermaine said there would be a private ceremony for family and some special guests before the public memorial. He added that the family wanted to have other memorials around the United States.

Meanwhile, the future of Jackson's children was thrown into question when his ex-wife emerged and won a delay in a custody hearing while she decides whether she wants to raise her two offspring.

It was the first legal move from Deborah Rowe since the entertainer's death.

Meanwhile, a 30-second snippet of Jackson rehearsing for concerts in London two days before his death has been released. The footage includes Jackson performing "Thriller" and "Beat It." His voice was strong and he appeared in perfect health.


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