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Jackson to stay in limelight even after mourning is done

THE public mourning of Michael Jackson may be done, but the saga that was his personal life is far from over.

Nothing made that more clear than the one surprise of Tuesday's memorial service, watched by millions around the world: the emotional speech by Jackson's 11-year-old daughter, Paris-Michael.

"Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father I could imagine," she said, dissolving into tears and turning into the arms of her aunt Janet. "I just want to say I love him so much."

Custody of Jackson's three children is one of the biggest legal issues still unresolved. In his 2002 will, Jackson made his wishes clear - his three children should remain under the care of his mother, Katherine.

Debbie Rowe, the biological mother of Paris and her 12-year-old brother, Prince Michael, has indicated she may seek custody. The surrogate mother of Jackson's youngest child, seven-year-old Prince Michael II, is unknown. A custody hearing was scheduled for Monday.

Death certificate

As the world paused to remember Jackson, authorities released his death certificate, which did not list a cause of death. The official determination will likely wait until toxicology results are completed, which could be weeks away.

Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said Jackson's brain, or at least part of it, was still being held by investigators and would be returned to the family for interment once neuropathology tests were completed.

Investigators have honed in on drugs that were administered to the insomniac Jackson. The powerful sedative Diprivan, which is usually administered by anesthesiologists in hospitals, was found in his home, according to a law enforcement official.

Jackson's final resting place was another unknown. Permission is needed to bury him at his former home, Neverland Ranch.

A private memorial was held at a cemetery in the Hollywood Hills that is the resting place of many stars, but it does not appear Jackson will be buried among them.

No plans have been announced for Neverland, but it's already drawn comparisons as a potential West Coast version of Graceland.

In debt

Then there's Jackson's money. He died deeply in debt, but left an estate potentially worth US$500 million and his enduring star power with its tremendous earning potential.

Former Sony Music Chairman and CEO Tommy Mottola has said Jackson left dozens of songs that included newer material and leftover works from some of his biggest albums. Mottola predicted the potential playlist was bigger than the one left behind by Elvis.

The singer also left behind an elaborate production dubbed "The Dome Project," which could be Jackson's last complete video piece. Little is publicly known about the production, but its existence has been confirmed by two knowledgeable sources who spoke to The Associated Press on condition they not be identified because they signed confidentiality agreements.

There also is more than 100 hours of footage of preparations for his London concerts. Randy Phillips, president and CEO of concert promoter AEG Live, said last week that the company also has enough material for two live albums.

On Tuesday, about 20,000 people gathered inside the Staples Center for a somber, spiritual ceremony, watched by millions more around the world.

At the ceremony, a star-studded lineup of performers closely linked to Jackson's life and music remembered Jackson as an unparalleled singer, dancer and humanitarian whose music united people of all backgrounds.

Helicopters followed the golden casket as it was driven over blocked-off freeways from Forest Lawn cemetery to the Staples Center.


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